In August 2008, Troy Widgery’s morning commute will get a lot more scenic. Instead of driving the five miles from Cherry Creek, Colo., to his office in downtown Denver, he’ll fly it, wearing a crash helmet and a jetpack strapped to his back.
Widgery’s company, JetPack International, has spent the past two years developing a device that fulfills those Jetsons-era fantasies – and can keep you airborne for all of nine minutes.
The original jetpack, introduced by Bell Aerosystems in 1961, could fly for a mere 23 seconds and was not commercialized. It wasn’t just the short flight time that hampered development of jetpacks. The hydrogen-peroxide fuel – like the disinfectant but in far stronger concentration – was prohibitively expensive at $2,000 a flight, to say nothing of the risk of running out of fuel in midair. No wonder only 11 people have ever piloted such machines.
His quest for a jetpack that wouldn’t bankrupt the company soon took on a life of its own, eating up more than $1 million in development costs and spawning JetPack International.
Soon he hit upon the idea of using three small jet turbine engines, powered by jet fuel, and a pack constructed with lightweight carbon fiber. Fuel for a single flight would now cost just $20. “That’s huge. No one has done that before.”
VIDEO: See jetpack in action, click here.
Photo by Go Fast Sports