The video: After a successful test of its experimental personal jetpack (see video below), New Zealand's Martin Aircraft says the futuristic device is approaching commercial viability. Its jetpack shot a weighted dummy 5,000 feet into the air, at about 9 miles per hour, then landed it using a built-in parachute. (Tests of other jetpacks to date topped out at 150 feet and roughly 1 mph.) Given Martin's initial price of about $100,000, its first customers are expected to be military units and emergency responders — with a few billionaires thrown in for good measure.
The reaction: Flying in the air like a superhero "might seem a trifle outlandish," says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET News. But if you have the money and don't mind the noise, this jetpack can be yours when it hits the market in about 18 months. "Just imagine flying to a first date in one of these." Let's not get too excited, says Tiffany Hsu in the Los Angeles Times. Bulky and a little on the slow side, "this isn't Bond's Thunderball device." At least you won't need a pilot's license to fly it, says Matt Peckham at TIME. "Nerves of steel, yes, and maybe a decent pair of earplugs." But, hey, the future has to start somewhere. Watch the test for yourself: