The 2012 Martin Jetpack represents 30 years of research and development, a dozen or so prototypes tweaked and tested to sustain 30+ minutes of flight time at 63 mph, and over 4 long years of agonizing anticipation for the day its purchase is open not just to commercial entities, but to all the 6,928,198,253 citizens of the world. And the 2012 Martin Jetpack just may end the agony. Though the company retains the right to change its mind at any time, it is currently accepting private individuals' applications for Jetpack purchase, with a tentative delivery date of 2013. All that's required to secure a spot on the wait list is a series of blood-based signatures, and $4,000. You know what that means: time to pop a few iron supplements, and bust open those piggy banks!
OK, besides being the ultimate Go-Go Gadget, what is the Martin Jetpack? In short, it's the first ever practical rocket booster for the unadorned human body. And by "practical", we mean it achieves liftoff for more than a few seconds, altitudes of more than a few dozen feet, and has successfully not killed the pilots on all of its test runs. By "practical", we do not mean it is a product anyone who isn't John Travolta or Dr. Evil is actually going to buy and use to cut down on their commute time.
Jetpacks harness the driving power of a purpose-built gasoline engine propelling twin ducted fans, in turn strong enough to produce the thrust needed to lift the 535-pound aircraft and a 280+-pound pilot. And motor them around on a little open-air, mile-high joyride. And, yes, Martin has tested the Jetpack to near-mile-highness of 5,000 feet, and specifies potential heights of 8,000 feet. Its fuel capacity is 5 gallons--hence the 30+ minute flight time--but that's due mainly to FAA regulations for Ultralight aircraft. The max speed of 63 mph is also due to crotchety FAA rules.
Shockingly, one rule the FAA doesn't impose is a license. We'll say it again: you do not need a license to drive this real-life, and possibly real-death, piece of science fiction. Of course, the good people at Martin are emphatic about buyers undergoing extensive training and demonstrating safe operation prior to handing over their Jetpack/undoubted lawsuit to end all lawsuits. They use the glorious term "foolhardy" to describe any Darwin Award hopeful who fixes to pick one up, and just figure it out as they go.