It's only been three years since David Mayman first flew his JB-9 jetpack around the statue of liberty, announcing the official opening of the jetpack age. Three years! It feels like an eternity in an age of rapid technological advancement where products seem to be iterated every six months.
Things are coming along quickly though, with Mayman now flying a heavily upgraded six-engine JB-11 for his many public appearances, while working on flying car designs in his downtime. But while Jetpack Aviation is ready to sell these wild, 150 mph, 18,000-foot altitude capable machines to the brave, it's taking the path of caution until it can come up with a fool-proof safety system that can take over as a final resort in the case of catastrophic failure.
That doesn't mean you and I can't have a crack at flying one, though. While Mayman was the only one flying the JB for a while, soon he began training others in his company, then the odd outsider. And now, he's opening up his training facility and letting the public have a go.
For US$4950, you can spend a day learning how to fly the JB-10 with Mayman, the world's only FAA certified jetpack instructor (there's a nifty bullet point for the CV) and qualified pilot Boris Jarry. You'll do takeoffs, landings, hovering, forward, backways and sideways flight – Mayman says it's more or less a Segway in the sky and should be very intuitive for most people.
All flights will be tethered to a safety wire and the instructors have the ability to remotely shut off the engines if things start going pear-shaped. Pilots will get to keep their own custom-tailored flight suit made just for the occasion, as well as photos and videos of their aerial exploits.
The program is running in the outer reaches of Los Angeles, among scenic citrus trees, and Mayman tells us there's a nice view right out to the ocean to enjoy when you're not bricking yourself because you're floating 20 feet in the air with jet turbines roaring either side of you.
Total flight time will likely be around 20 minutes, and while it won't be enough to train most pilots up to the point where they could safely fly off tether, Mayman says successful pilots may have the option to come back and "take their training further."
It's not cheap, but it promises to be an unique experience. As the company points out, more people have walked on the moon than flown a jetpack to date. And Mayman and the Jetpack Aviation team are right on the cutting edge of a new personal flight category that people have been dreaming about for many, many decades. If you decide to go for it, let us know how it feels!
Take a look at Mayman giving it the berries at this year's Red Bull Air Race below.
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