5,000 People Witness First Public Flight
EAA officials report as many as 5,000 eager spectators were on
hand Tuesday morning on AeroShell Square to witness the first
public flight of the much-anticipated Martin Jetpack... and having
been among that crowd ourselves, we think that number might even be
In fact, organizers seemed a bit surprised with the large
turnout, as the assembled throngs were slowly moved out of the way
to make room for the demo flight at show center, forcing some
against the barriers placed around AeroShell's other "big"
attraction Tuesday, the Boeing Dreamlifter.
Any crowd discomfort was assuaged, however, when Harrison Martin
took the "stage" wearing the somewhat bulky contrapiction strapped
to his back. Despite its high-flying name, the Martin Jetpack isn't
a jet pack at all. Actually, it's closer in concept to a wearable
Moller Aircar... with a small two-stroke engine providing power to
twin ducted fans, one mounted on either side of the wearer's
Harrison, 16, lit the engines just before 10 am Oshkosh time...
and for the next 55 seconds or so, hovered more-or-less in place
about two feet off the ground, as spectators (including us) held
their cameras high overhead, hoping to catch a shot of the
Glenn Martin -- Harrison's dad, and the contraption's inventor
-- hopes to sell his first 10 jetpacks for $100,000 each. We've
little doubt he'll pull that off, especially given the crowd's
reaction. Martin's Web site has struggled to handle the influx of
hits, as well.
"When I was 5 years old, I was watching 'The Jetsons,' 'Lost in
Space' and all those TV programs, and I wanted a jetpack," Martin
told the Chicago Tribune ahead of Tuesday's flight.
Defined as an ultralight by FAA regs -- meaning you don't need a
license to fly one -- the Martin Jetpack can be operated on regular
autogas and fly as long as 30 minutes, according to the