Flying a jetpack around the Statue of Liberty and Sydney Harbour was a dream turned into reality for inventor David Mayman.
While it may sound like a sci-fi flight of fancy, Mayman’s invention has serious capabilities which are already in trials with American special services with orders already from a South East Asian government.
David Mayman, CEO of California-based Jet Pack Aviation described how the idea for the backpack mounted flying machine was hatched in the noughties, inspired by the hydrogen peroxide rocket belts which flew in the 1984 Olympic Games opening ceremony. “I was fascinated by the concept of something that you can throw on your back and, and fly away with,” he said.
“Little did I know, of course, that they didn’t really exist beyond something that could fly for 25 seconds, which was the hydrogen peroxide system. And I built up a company in Australia quite some time ago and sold that and then finally had some, some money to throw into engineering, this concept. And it took a long, it took a long time to get an aircraft that was small enough, powerful enough and reliable enough to do the New York flight.”
Military potential identified during flight around Statue of Liberty
Mayman said the potential military capabilities of the aircraft were highlighted after he completed his jetpack flight around the Statue of Liberty.
“I got this very strange phone call from a gentleman who claimed to be from the Navy Special Forces and would like me to come and do a demonstration for them at Virginia Beach. By then I’d also been contacted by all and sundry. So I was a little bit cynical about the whole thing. And I said, ‘Look, can you send me an email, and then we can correspond by email.’
He continued: “The next day I got from the same gentleman from a.gov.mil. address. So it was effectively the SOCOM, the special forces on the Navy side, which is the you know, the SEAL Team guys from Virginia Beach, we’re very interested in an aircraft that you could effectively pack down into a series of Pelican cases and fly around with that. That’s how our relationship started.”
Jetski-sized Speeder will have greater payload
Although the backpack will enable 10 mile flights relatively quickly for Special Forces, Mayman believes the immediate future for Jetpack Aviation will remain with the company’s flying motorcycle, the speeder. He explained: “The reason for that is that you can carry a lot more payload than you can carry with a machine that has to fit on your back. Where we got to with the SEAL Team guys was that they could carry themselves and maybe some light arms and ammunition but that was about it. And they wanted to carry 300 pounds or more. So it’s hard to do that and have something that you can carry on your back. You get into needing exoskeletons to be strong enough to do that.”
Jetpack Aviation has just finished the first flight test programme for the first full scale prototype of the Speeder. The aircraft is around the size of a motorcycle or jetski and will be suitable for high or ultra-high speed delivery missions of any kind, especially for transport of critical medical supplies.
Mayman explained: “I see it progressing over time, from there into emergency medical services where you could extract an injured person, whether it be a civilian or a military operator, you could do that either piloted or fully autonomously, because the aircraft is what’s known as optionally piloted, it can be thrown flowing in three modes, manned or piloted, unmanned, autonomously or unmanned, via remote or virtual control.”