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Thunderbolt's jetpack: Just $100,000 for 75 seconds of flight

Start-up has begun taking orders for its Thunderpack "personal propulsion system." Potential customers include those fed up with "snail-paced commutes."

Thunderbolt Aerosystems

First Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo unveiling and now a new jetpack? Somebody forgot to tell me that it's Worldwide Wacko Futurist Pipe-Dream Week.

A company called Thunderbolt Aerosystems announced this week the release of the Thunderpack, which "represents more than a decade's worth of effort to apply modern rocket fuels and propulsion technologies to create a practical and economical personal air vehicle." It'll fly you around for a total of 75 seconds. That's certainly an improvement over a jetpack at the Wirefly X Prize Cup in 2006 that could stay aloft for a mere 30 seconds.

Thunderbolt, which was founded by San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneur Carmelo Amarena as a strategy for dealing with a stressful commute, hopes that technological improvements within a year will enable up to 35 minutes of flight.

The machine can run on either "specially promoted" hydrogen peroxide in a dual-fuel mode (available starting in August) or standard high test peroxide (available in May). A dual-fuel capable jetpack has a longer flight time (the full 75 seconds, as opposed to 45 seconds) and can go faster (75mph compared with 65mph), giving it the ability to go twice as far on one tank--but that's still only about 3,600 feet.

With further development, though, Thunderbolt hopes that its jetpacks will ultimately be used for a "host of defense, commercial, and personal purposes, including support of military missions, disaster relief efforts, border patrol assignments, and even overcoming those snail-paced commutes." That's good, seeing as most of us live farther than 3,600 feet from our offices.

The market price for the dual-fuel Thunderpack is expected to be in the $100,000 range, with the high test peroxide model selling for $90,000.

Oh, please. For just twice that, I could spend a whole four-to-five minutes weightless in space aboard Richard Branson's suborbital party plane.