Friday, June 6, 2014

The Future is Here - with Jetpacks

Photo from
The annual Future is Here Festival took place in Washington, DC on 17-18 May 2014. The event is produced by Smithsonian Magazine (see my post of 11 May 2014), and is described as "an annual celebration and exploration of science, technology, culture, and the arts, all gathered around the exciting and elastic theme of 'the future.'"

The link on the Smithsonian webpage lists the speakers each day, with information about who they are:

After the event, I checked the website to find news that would be of interest to my students, and it seems the main event was the demonstration of a jetpack inside the main building. The successful ride took 20 seconds, and indicates that the future of jetpacks is here - although expensive and with drawbacks.

The jetpack tested at the festival costs between $100,000 and $150,000, but is not yet available in stores. Only the parts are available on sale. This model has a total range of 1,320 feet (402 meters), a maximum height of 196 feet (60 meters) and a top speed of 80 miles (129 kilometers) per hour. Pilots need 100 hours of training in order to successfully fly the jetpack.

A video of the flight is on many websites; here's the one from the Smithsonian website (00:45):

An article on HNGN (Headline & Global News) has an article with links to other news sources:

All the sources have rather short articles and the same video. It is reported that an upcoming Smithsonian channel program will focus on the history of jetpacks, including current and future developments. When that becomes available, I will be checking it out for my students.

Coverage of the festival can be found at:

The topic, and certainly the video, will be of interest to my students. They are already familiar with this device from many films - from James Bond to science fiction. Now it's real. What engineering student could resist it?

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