The trials of the jet pack

02.02.2008 Tech #Jetpacks

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Then there's the bad news. First, these jet packs aren't what they seem: Jet-powered devices are in development (and models were tested as early as the '60s), but all models on the verge of availability are, in fact, jet-free and called, officially, rocket belts. Second, while last year there were two commercial rocket-belt manufacturers--Mexico's Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana (TAM) and Colorado-based JetPack International--there are now three: Thunderbolt Aerosystems, based in California, plans to start selling its ThunderPack TP-R2G2 rocket belt to customers this summer. Why is another entry in the fledgling human-flight business bad news? After all, three companies might be just enough to spur the kind of innovation that a healthy niche industry needs. Well, that's the problem with so-called jet packs: everything...