TechFlesh Blog

A Brief History of the Jetpack

Scientists in Jules Verne’s Robur the Conqueror, aka The Clipper of the Clouds, predict a future of “flying machines” that allow man to walk on air.

1955

Stanley Hiller debuts the Hiller VZ-1 Flying Platform, which includes two Nelson H-59 engines, a fan, and two large propellers. One step closer to everyone having a jetpack, right?

1958

Thiokol Chemical Corporation markets its jump belt, a strap-on rocket fueled by nitrogen tanks, not as a flying machine but as a device to enhance athletes’ jumping and running ability.

1960

Bell Aerosystems engineer Wendell Moore develops the Bell Rocket Belt for the U.S. Army. The device runs on hydrogen peroxide and includes hand controls for steering the flight. Problem: It can only thrust for 21 seconds.

1965

In Thunderball, James Bond (Sean Connery) kills SPECTRE operative Colonel Jacques Bouvar and flees in a Bell Rocket Belt. The gadget reappears 37 years later in Die Another Day, starring Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan.

1984

Bill Suitor (Sean Connery’s jetpack stunt double) flies into Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Too bad the Soviets boycotted the games, because even their judges would’ve been impressed.

1991

It’s a bird, it’s a plane—well, it’s actually just a guy who found a Howard Hughes–designed jetpack in The Rocketeer.

1994

NASA introduces the SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue), a propulsive backpack for when astronauts come untethered during space walks.

2005

MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman try to build a jetpack using plans they bought online. They fail and remain grounded.

2006

Swiss pilot Yves Rossy invents a kerosene-burning pack with wings. He uses it to fly over the Swiss Alps, cross the English Channel, and crash into the Strait of Gibraltar.

2012

Jetlev rocks the boat with a $99,500 jetpack that can launch people up to 30 feet high using water as a propellant.

2013

Soaring with a V-4 gas engine and two ducted fans, the Martin Jetpack reaches a record 5000-foot altitude. Lacking investors, what would be the first commercially available device of its kind, priced at $75,000, still awaits takeoff.

Source: