Move over Rocketeer, a German DIY engineer is designing and crafting a jet pack with a real jet engine all by himself.
The personal rocket pack propelling individuals across the skies has been a staple of science-fiction and pulp adventure stories for nearly a century. Many people in the Twentieth Century assumed that we'd all be zooming around like George Jetson in the Twenty First, but, despite a few adventurous souls using a rocket belt, a cheap and safe way to house an explosion on one's back still eludes humanity. Perhaps that prompted a German engineer to take a different tack and begin forging a personal pack that houses a jet engine similar to those you'd find on a commercial airliner. Andreas Petzoldt has been working on personally designing and constructing his jet pack for ten years, using only the funds and knowhow available to him.
The problem with the familiar Bell Rocket Belt design that we've seen anywhere from Evel Kneival to Halo: Reach promotions is that it runs out of fuel very quickly. A human can control his movement and hover wearing the Rocket Belt but the total flight time is only 30 seconds. You can't commute to work that fast. The short flight time renders the rocket pack a little more than a novelty.
Petzoldt's design using custom-made fans to force huge amounts of air, on the other hand, allows for almost 20 minutes of flight time on one tank of gas. The pack is controlled by a pair of joysticks that change the flow of air from four nozzles. That makes his jet pack viable for any number of practical uses from quick personal travel to a full-scale military invasion of jetpack shock troops.
Of course, the biggest drawback is that the thing is so heavy that you need a wheeled stand to support its weight on the ground. But that's what the mech is for, right?
It will be a few years yet before Andreas Petzoldt completes his jet pack; he's recently tested the engine that will provide the power and noticed a strange rattling noise that will need to be investigated. And he is very concerned with safety, having all of the parts he makes himself tested by an independent lab to see if they will withstand the 65 thousand RPMs that his engine outputs.
It's worth noting again that the whole project is funded by Petzoldt himself, so if any philanthropists or venture capitalists feel like finally pushing jet pack technology into the 21st century, I'm sure he wouldn't mind a grant or twelve.
Source: Technologie-Entwicklung Baumgart