Mini Helicopter Allows Solo Air Travel

Published August 04, 2009

| FoxNews.com

Imagine being able to walk out your door, strap on a small device and fly to work, bypassing all the morning traffic.

It's not as far-fetched as you might think.

New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft unveiled a strap-on mini helicopter designed to travel at a speed of 62 mph for about 31 miles.

"To be able to fly solo in a fixed-wing aircraft can take 15 hours of flight training, but most people wanted to be able to learn to fly the jetpack in a few minutes," inventor Glenn Martin said.

So, for now, adrenaline junkies will be able to get the thrill of flying solo through the air with a smaller version that goes about 6 miles an hour and is in a controlled outdoor area.

Click here for photos.

"It will still be flying as it's never been done before, just in the confines of a rugby field-type space," Martin Aircraft Company Chief Executive Richard Lauder told the Australian Associated Press. "Just because you have to stay under [6 miles an hour] doesn't mean it won't be an exciting experience."

Click here for a video report on the Martin Jetpack Experience.

The cost will be about the same as other outdoor adventures like bungee jumping or skydiving, the company said.

The catch — it will only be available in New Zealand.

The first Martin Jetpack Experience will be set up near the company's Christchurch base early next year, although they say they want to expand to Australia and the United States.

Company officials said the mini-helicopter has been in the making for years, but got international attention last year during a trade show in Wisconsin, when a streamlined version was launched.

When orders started rolling in, the company had to put them on hold temorarily until they could manufacture them for a commericial operation.

"We had to rethink our plan to release it to make it very safe," Lauder said.

Each Martin Jetpack costs about $150,000.

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