Inventor gets off the ground with homemade jetpack

This 160-horsepower winged flying kit needs a runway to lift its pilot off the ground. It's just made its first hop.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read

It might look like a recipe for disaster, or at least a trip to the hospital, but a German inventor is trying to take to the skies with a jetpack that's designed to race along a runway before flying.

Inspired by daredevil Felix Baumgartner, Fritz Unger wants to soar like a bird by strapping wings and two jet engines to his back.

That hasn't happened yet, but his Skyflash jetpack has lifted him off the ground for an instant as he rolled along at 34 mph.

Face down, Unger lies on four wheels strapped to his body while the jetpack propels him horizontally, as seen in the Daily Planet vid below, as well as this one. He has also used it to travel over snow on a sled.

The wings are made of wood and weigh about 9 pounds each, with the entire kit weighing about 55 pounds. The outer wing parts can bend and create lift.

If the 160-horsepower jetpack gets him off the ground, Unger says it could fly at about 110 mph. Control would be maintained, hopefully, through an iPhone mounted on the pilot's arm as well as an RC pistol-grip controller in his hand.

Landing? Well, that's where he'll really need a helmet.

"The gear which you can see on our pictures is permanently attached," Unger wrote on the Skyflash Facebook page. "You land just the way you took off. We'll use a more optimized gear later, but for now the one you see is the best solution for what we want to do."

Let's just hope Unger doesn't hurt himself in his quest for flight. At least he has an emergency parachute.