So quipped Mr. Connery after his successful jetpack getaway in Thunderball.  But can any man, well-dressed or otherwise, expect to have one of those in his wardrobe or garage anytime soon?

The recent headline in Popular Mechanics (Jet Packs Finally On Sale: How to Buy Your Rocket Belt) was the worst kind of tease.  That article makes it crystal clear that we aren't going to be using jetpacks for casual transportation in our lifetime.

If you read the technical details about the Thunderball jetpack, the obvious cynical remark is that 1965's jetpack prototype was capable of 30 seconds of flight but, after 40 years of hard work, 2007's jetpack has gotten us to...33 seconds of flight.  Sure, you could get more flight time by switching from hydrogen peroxide to either gas or rocket fuel, but that's a disaster waiting to happen at the first spark.

As for cost, advances in technology and mass-production should cut the $200K price tag drastically over the coming years.  But it's also statistically inevitable that someone will crash and get killed using one of these devices.  Once politicians and lawyers get involved, expect overhead and costs to rise, with operational requirements becoming at least as onerous as getting any kind of pilot license (or explosives license, given current phobia about airborne terrorism).

I recommend you start looking into alternate arrangements for escaping your next fake funeral!

Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2007
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