My only claim to fame is that I’ve flown a jetpack . . . all of eight inches off the ground for about ten seconds, with a small army of crew keeping me balanced in the air to ensure that a photo opp didn’t end in disaster. And you know what? It was exhilarating.
That said, the Martin Jetpack I flew was unwieldy and lacked discernible “road feel” behind its powerful engines. I couldn’t imagine a future in which all of us flew to work with its giant turbines wrapped in half a car’s worth of carbon fiber, jockeying for a place to park. But Marc Newson’s Body Jet, which he designed for a French aerospace company, imagines a more reasonable future for jetpacks.
Like the idea of jetpacks themselves, it’s certainly a bit retro, with a soft-lined carbon-fiber body that looks straight out of a 1980s theme park ride. Even still, Newson’s design is sleek without being unapproachable or technologically polarizing. There’s a particular concern for comfort, with padded armrests and a retractable landing gear that supports the jetpack’s weight when it’s not in flight.
Unfortunately, Newson’s jetpack is merely a concept. It could theoretically fly for about an hour, and a patented gyroscope would keep the pack upright even if the pilot were distracted by texts or Pandora. But without a working engine inside, Newson’s jetpack becomes less a possible prototype and more an ode to an alternative timeline–an artifact of a world that almost existed. If only.