Personal flying machine
Jet packs, the ultimate comic book fantasy machine, have been made. but if we can’t even drive safely, can we fly safely?
YOU know how some things seem like a good idea until they’re actually realised? Things like communism, high-waisted pants, and making a movie out of John Carter probably all seemed like good ideas on paper (well, maybe not the high-waisted pants, too uncomfortable!) but didn’t do so well when actualised.
This is what I’m thinking after reading that the Martin Aircraft company in Christchurch, New Zealand could be as little as six months away from producing a jet pack.
Yes. A jet pack! The future is right freaking now!
Jet packs, in the form of the backpack that enables an individual to fly, were first proposed in 1920. It’s only taken roughly a century to develop the technology, but we finally may be on the cusp of the Jet Pack Era! Yay? Nay.
At first, a working jet pack sounds like all sorts of awesome. Every child has dreamt of strapping on a backpack capable of jet propulsion and zipping through the air with the ease of a bird (and the pollutant output of a small jet – admittedly these childhood fantasies are probably not very eco-friendly, but who cares? Jet pack!).
Indeed the infantile urge to create a fully functioning jet pack is what recently led an Australian man to spend US$15,000 (RM50,000) to build his own jet pack – albeit a water-powered one. Danch Lee admits that he spent a “phenomenal” amount of time thinking about how to make his jet pack dream happen.
Lee’s gizmo can achieve heights of nine metres and remains “tethered” to the water via a tube (that is needed to pump water to the pack to create propulsion).
This is a far cry from the jet pack that Boba Fett uses in Return Of The Jedi that gave so many of us our first glimpse of flying through space with the greatest of ease, or the more contemporary Iron Man where Robert Downey Jr is basically wearing the ultimate jet pack complete with missiles. Then there is Jarvis (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System), the autonomously sentient AI helper that is so technologically astounding.
But it would seem that Martin Aircraft has brought every little boy that much closer to their childhood dream of jet packing, so why am I not excited? Allow me to provide an example.
Rushing through the crowded streets the other day, I found myself dodging around people like they were pylons. I stepped onto the street to avoid one person and apparently stepped in front of another man who slammed right into my shoulder so hard, I felt the hard edge of his teeth.
Now, I don’t know if he was smiling when he ran into me, but he lay on the sidewalk, his legs paddling through the air like spinning tyres on a newly overturned vehicle, covering his mouth with his hands. That’s how I knew for certain he got me with his teeth.
I started to offer to help him up when he regained his composure, if not all his teeth, and jumped to his feet, speeding away yelling back over his shoulder at me. I suppose running into me with his teeth was quite embarrassing and, understandably, he wanted to put the incident behind him.
Embarrassment aside, the point is, this guy ran into me on the street. With his teeth! People can barely walk on the street without slamming into each other, can you imagine if we strapped on jet packs and started flying all over the place? It would be complete anarchy!
People get hit by cars and they only have to look left and right. Imagine if we had to look up and down too? Chaos. Complete and utter chaos would ensue as people jet pack into each other, careen off buildings, and come skidding to fiery halts in restaurant patios. Alfresco dining would become a high-risk activity.
And don’t give me the, “People would learn how to use jet packs properly” argument. Have you seen people drive lately?
Martin Aircraft states that their jet pack could be used for first responders. For firefighters, or medical personnel to get to victims in hard to reach places. Which would make them really useful when you think about it, because who else is going to put out that fire you start when you crash your jet pack into a billboard?
And of course, removing your carcass from the said billboard will be a snap using the same gadget.
Honestly, the only application I can see for them is cleaning up the mess made by other people using jet packs. Until I’m saved by a person wearing one, I’m firmly on the side of “Jet packs are great in childhood fantasies, but not so great in the real world”.
It should also be noted that everybody’s favourite bounty hunter, Boba Fett, jet-packs himself into the side of a barge and into the mouth of the ravenous Sarlacc.
If jet packs are invented anytime soon, I’ll be the one wearing a “Jet Packs Killed Boba Fett” T-shirt.
Explosive creation: Flying with jet packs may seem like a dream come true, but can you imagine the risk of accidents?