In the 1965 movie "Thunderball," James Bond uses a jetpack to escape clutches of agents from the evil organization Spectre. That moment ignited in the minds of millions of moviegoers the idea of flying around with little more than a rocket-powered backpack strapped to your body.
Forty years later,, the idea of a jetpack that could turn ordinary citizens into high-flying men and women of mystery is gaining more speed than ever.
The most recent step forward in the personal jetpack arena comes from Jetpack Aviation. Its CEO, David Mayman, recently took a ride out over New York Harbor using his company's JB-9 jetpack, while the Statue of Liberty looked on, unfazed, in the background.
According to Jetpack Aviation, the JB-9 can climb to heights above 10,000 feet (about 3,048 meters), travel at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour (about 161 kilometers per hour) and fly for about 10 minutes before needing to be refueled.
The company calls the JB-9 "the world's only true jetpack," but that seems a bit more of a semantic difference than an actual one. The jetpack Bond wore in 1965 actually did exist, although it was technically more of a belt than a pack. Called the Bell Rocket Belt, it was powered by hydrogen peroxide and could only fly for about 20 seconds before needing more fuel. The same guy who flew that contraption in the movie as one of its stuntmen, Bill Suitor, later flew a similar jetpack into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1984 as part of the Olympic Opening ceremonies.
Just last month, a team of jetpack-wearing daredevils, after having .
Still, those are some pretty specialized and hard-to-get pieces of equipment. The makers of the JB-9 say their product is relatively lightweight and can fit into the back of a car, and they're aiming for a world where jetpacks are available to all. In fact, the JB-9 jetpack is already approved for flight by the United States' Federation Aviation Administration and Coast Guard.
"It would be wonderful if one day this opens the door to a vast new industry of affordable personal air transportation with applications for search and rescue, law enforcement, disaster relief and recreation," said Nelson Tyler, the company's chief designer, in a statement.
A company called Martin Jetpack is set to go on sale next year for around $150,000, and it can fly for over 30 minutes at 74 kilometers per hour (about 46 miles per hour), according to Reuters. It is, however, quite a bit bigger than the JB-9may, though, beat them to the punch. The
Maybe a few more Bond films down the road you just might be able to zip over to the theater by rocketing through the sky instead of crawling along in traffic.