Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rocket Man

A jetpack wearing hero on the cover of Amazing Stories, August 1928. The cover illustrates The Skylark of Space. Last weekend I took my boys to Hiller Aviation Museum, which hosted a demonstration of an actual jetpack at work. I had thought this was the stuff of science fiction, but this dude actually lifted off , flew down the runway a bit, hovered, returned, and landed. Cool!

Before taking off, he did have to get clearance for his flight plan. As you can see from the vantage of my photo to the left, we stood right near the liftoff point--I was surprised that there was no smoky plume from the rocket fuel, but the noise at ignition was painfully impressive. The operator has to be quite strong to carry the device on his back, and even so he's limited to 30 seconds of rocket fuel.

They wouldn't let me fly the thing, but the museum did bring in a jetpack simulator for the day. Balancing the side-by-side rockets is trickier than I thought, and so my virtual flights all ended in explosive, head-first crashes.

http://livingalaska.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/sarah_palin2.jpgNeverthleless, as the central theme of her energy plan Sarah Palin is now pushing the jetpack as a replacement for automobiles, which "burn all that smelly gasoline." Fortunately, the jetpack I saw burns hydrogen peroxide, which she seems to have in good supply.

Meanwhile, the trip to Hiller inspired my 6 year old to become a pilot himself.

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