Buck Rogers' debutSci-fi hero Anthony "Buck" Rogers made his debut in the August 1928 issue of Hugo Gernsback's "Amazing Stories." In "Armageddon 2419 A.D.," Rogers was awakened from suspended animation and joined the United States' "Second War of Independence," in which soldiers fly via rockets encased in "inertron" strapped to their backs.
"Zombies of the Stratosphere"
The Republic serial "King of the Rocket Men" (1949) featured Tristram Coffin as Jeff King, an atomic-powered jet pack-wearing fighter of evil-doers.
The helmet and rocket outfit returned to the screen (worn by different heroes) in the 1952 serials "Radar Men of the Moon" and "Zombies of the Stratosphere" (left, with Judd Holdren), and "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" (1953).
In the late 1950s Bell Aerospace began developing a jet-propelled "rocket belt," for use by the military. Tethered test flights began in 1960, and on April 20, 1961, Harold Graham made the first untethered flight, traveling 100 feet, at an altitude of about four feet, across a field near the Bell Aircraft Factory in Niagara, N.Y.
Graham's rocket belt contained canisters of nitrogen gas and concentrated hydrogen peroxide, producing a superheated water vapor and oxygen propulsion.
Rocket BeltAn early test of Bell Aerospace's Rocket Belt.
Personal Propulsion UnitU.S. patent no. 3,243,144 for the "Personal Propulsion Unit" developed at Bell Aerospace.
The Flying SeatIn 1965 Bell's Flying Seat - an office chair with a rocket belt attached - allowed the flyer to maintain a sitting position.
Flying BondIn the 1965 James Bond adventure "Thunderball," 007 escapes some baddies by donning a crash helmet and a rocket belt.
James Bond's jet pack, photographed at the National Motor Museum in Hampshire, England.
"Lost in Space"A rocket belt was a useful tool for the crew of the Jupiter 2 in the 1960s sci-fi series, "Lost in Space," whenever they were exploring an alien planet. (It was also handy in the event they encountered giants hurling boulders.)
Apollo testA late '60s test of a jet pack for the Apollo lunar missions.
Vertical Takeoff and Landing Vehicles
The jet-propelled WASP (Williams Aerial Systems Platform), and a later version called the X-Jet (powered by a modified turbofan aircraft engine), attained speeds up to 60 mph, and could be airborne for 30 minutes or more.
"The Rocketeer"Bill Campbell starred in a 1991 film version of "The Rocketeer."
1984 OlympicsA performer wearing a jet pack flies above the Coliseum in Los Angeles during the opening ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics, July 28, 1984.
Jet Packs In Space
Astronaut Bruce McCandless operates the Manned Maneuvering Unit system during a 1984 space shuttle flight. Roll, pitch and yaw controls operated 24 nozzle thrusters using nitrogen propellent.
The New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company began producing the Martin Jetpack as a tool for first responders. The company is also developing jetpacks for recreational use.
The Martin Jetpack is capable of reaching altitudes above 800 feet, and traveling at nearly 50 mph.
Swiss professional pilot Yves Rossy, the world's first man to fly with fitted jet fuel-powered wings strapped to his back, flies during his first official demonstration, on May 14, 2008 above Bex, Switzerland.
Released from a plane at an altitude of 8,000 feet, Yves Rossy completed several loops at a speed of more than 180 mph, using only his body to change position during his five-minute flight over the Swiss Alps.
Rossy's wing, featuring four Jet-Cat P200 engines, is powered by kerosene and turbine oil and weighs 121 pounds when fully-fueled.
"I Do"Grant Engler and his bride, Amanda Engler, go for lift-off as they begin their post-wedding dance in jet pack suits, Aug. 23, 2012 in Newport Beach, Calif. The couple donned the $90,000 contraptions on their backs, along with a wetsuit for the groom and white board shorts and a rash-guard shirt for the bride. The jet packs from Jetlev Southwest helped the couple hover a few feet above the water, to the cheers of their wedding guests. Everything went smoothly, except for a kayaker who capsized during the newlyweds' first dance on the water.
Birdman CompetitionA man entertains crowds with a water jet pack near Worthing Pier in West Sussex on August 10, 2013, during the annual International Birdman Competition, a flight contest for human-powered flying machines held each summer.
Rocket Belt Down Under
Australian jet pilot David Mayman, subject of the Discovery Channel film, "Rocket Compulsion," demonstrates his self-built jet pack in Sydney in 2013.
For more info:
"The Rocketeer" series (IDW Publishing)
"The Great American Jet Pack: The Quest for the Ultimate Individual Lift" by Steve Kehto (Chicago Review Press)
Former Bell Aircraft Factory, Niagara, N.Y.
"The Rocketeer" (Disney)
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan