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Why you might soon have a $100,000 jetpack

One of the potential drawbacks of having your own jetpack is safety. However, a video shows the Martin Jetpack successfully going through an emergency parachute test.

The idea of human beings flying around in the sky like Michael Jackson used to fly into concerts--via jetpack--might seem a trifle outlandish.

However, those crafty souls at the Martin Aircraft Company have flapped one more wing toward the idea of your own personal, $100,000 jetpack, on which you can avoid traffic and soar into (or at least onto) your well-deserved corner office.

One of the potential drawbacks of jetpacks revolves around the idea that if the engine fails, you might just fall out of the sky.

This would not be terribly good for business. So Martin decided to test a ballistic parachute that might give buyers a touch of reassurance as they fly through the sky.

They tested it at 5,000 feet above Canterbury, New Zealand, so at least there weren't too many houses around, just in case things went a little awry.

Still, when one looks at this video, it seems that at least the parachute offers a little comfort.

In the giddy words of the Martin Web site: "There is no height where a catastrophic failure needs to lead to significant injury."

This will be a great relief to those who fear not only catastrophic failure while they are flying around with the seat of their pants flapping in the wind but also significant injury.

Martin is positively aloft at the success not only of the parachute test but also of the height that the jetpack managed to attain.

The Jetpack's inventor, Glenn Martin, said on the Web site: "In this test we limited the jetpack to 800 ft/min climb so the chase helicopters could keep up." 8,000 feet now apparently seems very possible.

Perhaps you, too, will find this film full of splendid possibilities. However, speaking as a mere human, it seems to me that the Jetpack does have one potentially annoying aspect: its water-cooled piston engine seems mighty noisy.

I know that quite a few people are used to going to work wearing a crash helmet. But I wonder whether those who will be able to afford this little machine would be prepared to fly for very long with such a strident amount of buzzing.

Still, with the world becoming an ever more choked place, perhaps people will do anything to avoid having to gear their lives around radio traffic reports.

So the fact that Martin claims it will be ready to market this personal flying thing in 18 months time--and that it is supposedly 90 percent cheaper to run than a chopper--will have enterprising individuals racing to put in their orders.

Just imagine flying to a first date in one of these. It would give an entirely new significance to the line: "Can I give you a lift home?"