The very concept of jetpacks goes way back to 1919, when a brilliant Russian scientist and inventor named Alexander Fedorovich Andreev filed the patent for a rocket housed inside a knapsack. The amazing Jet Suit from Gravity Industries (code name: the “Daedalus”) is the closest thing to Iron Man’s Tony Stark for sure, albeit it lacks all the weapons and superhero-esque appeal. Albeit, it does boast a blistering 1,050 horsepower even more than the upcoming Lamborghini Aventador.
Horsepower is enough thrust to push any rider to more than 30 miles per hour and up to 12,000 feet in the air (holy shiz!). However the fuel is only good for a measly four-minute joy ride, but that’s more than enough time to have a freakin’ blast..literally!
Around the 21st century, almost every jetpack was in fact a rocket pack. Andreev imagined soldiers wearing the devices, allowing for “the siege of fortresses, bypassing all earth obstacles [to] fly over freely to the rear of the enemy.” His device was never built, but the idea spread. During World War 2, the Nazis worked on the Himmelstürmer, a wearable V1 rocket intended to enable troops to leap high obstacles.
Production was an afterthought, but when the US military recruited Germany’s rocket scientists after the war, jetpacks came with them. By the 1960s, the US armed forces were testing several designs, including a “jump belt” dubbed Project Grasshopper, as well as flying platforms intended to carry snipers high above the battlefield.
However, In 1962, Bell Aerosystems debuted a silver and white jetpack design, with two foil-covered exhaust nozzles protruding out from behind its fuel tanks. Dubbed the Bell Rocket Belt, it ran on hydrogen peroxide, and could carry a pilot for 21 seconds, enough time to fly about 250m. Though its limited range proved useless for military applications, the Bell Rocket Belt caused a sensation.
Jetpacks were appearing everywhere from The Jetsons to Bond movie Thunderball – in which James Bond (actually pilot Bill Suitor) flew a Bell Rocket Belt. Even decades later, jetpacks starred in The A-Team and the 1984 Olympic opening ceremony. Everyone agreed they were the future of personal transportation – it seemed to be just a question of how and when.
Albeit then the jetpack somewhat fizzled, as rocket propulsion was inefficient and quite heavy; despite it’s improvements, pilots were unable to transport enough hydrogen peroxide to fly for more than 30 seconds at a time. Thus In such a short time frame you couldn’t fly high, or very far, or carry heavy loads. However no one could quite work out what jetpacks were really designed for.
Bell subsequently abandoned the Rocket Belt in the late 1970s, and then so did every one else. Quite a few die-hard inventors moved on to pursue the reality of the Jetpack, with an infinite zeal. In 1999, a US company tried to replicate the Bell Rocket Belt ended in a lawsuit, kidnapping & murder.) However the venerable jetpacks became somewhat of a joke – they promised us jetpacks – and what the future might be, Gravitas has brought us that future.