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Kiwi Inventor Offers Strap-On Helicopter

With all the personal jetpack news about, it shouldn't be a surprise that New Zealand inventor Glenn Martin has unveiled his Martin jetpack, a strap-on helicopter with a two-liter jet engine that can lift a person more than 150 feet and speed along at 62 mph. There is a slight difference, however -- the Martin Aircraft Company, supported by venture capitalist Jenny Morel and her No 8 Ventures Company, has spent the last year getting models ready for public use in 2010.
Martin has spent the last 28 years on his invention, including a corporate structure and plan for an amusement facility in New Zealand (and probably expanded globally) where guests can test a 6 mph version in a controlled environment after only about 45 minutes of training. (Martin also dreams of a faster, streamlined public use jetpack as an escape for bumper-to-bumper traffic.)

So far, Martin Aircraft chief executive Richard Lauder says the company has had much more commercial interest than recreational, especially from search-and-rescue teams and border patrol. It will be pricey, however, because the Martin jetpack runs about $100,000.

After decades of travel evolution, it's interesting to see that it's individual transportation that seems to be making the most strides. Is it because it will be more marketable to a generation that spends its time alone, texting or looking over his or her iPhone, or is it simply catering to the eccentric millionaire market? More interesting is its possible use in the law enforcement sector. Who would have guessed something first seen in a 1930s serial would become a mode of transportation better-suited to a park ranger rather than a spy or superhero?

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