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
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Why is it so expensive to build a bridge in America?
- Here's proof that Justin Bieber is just as spoiled as you always thought
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why is American internet so slow?
- What would a U.S.-China war look like?
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- The GOP must try to win over African-Americans
Subscribe to the Week