he future of flight is coming soon with the release of the world's first consumer jet pack. Last week, New Zealand's Martin Aircraft Company announced they are beginning production of the as-yet unnamed device — which stands five feet tall, weighs 254 pounds and will cost a cool $77,000 — at an initial rate of 500 units per year. Powered by dual propellers, it will be capable of whisking a pilot along at 63 mph at a maximum altitude of 8,000 feet. In case of emergency, the construction includes a roll cage and a low-altitude parachute. Martin Aircraft CEO Richard Lauder expects the product — no pilot license required — to sell to a wide variety of customers, including emergency personnel and the military. "This could be life-saving stuff," says Lauder in an interview with the London Telegraph. Others, however, aren't so sure. Given the many "possible risks to a user's health," says Caleb Johnson at Switched.com, "we'll stick to more traditional modes of transportation." Here's a video of a prototype:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Attack of the invasive species
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Captain America won over China
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
Subscribe to the Week