Once more unto the breach

Microsoft Jetpack Simulator

To fly a jetpack you must, of course a) have access to the cutting edge of Jetsons-era technology and b) be completely and utterly out of your mind. Jetpacks have absolutely no stability; the slightest draft of wind from a butterfly can tip you over and send you careening headfirst into the nearest wall at like 100 miles an hour. Ever since the first-ever public jetpack flight in 1961 — when Hal Graham zipped across the Pentagon lawn — very few people have ever actually flown these little screamingly loud, compressed-air suicide machines.

But now there’s finally a safe way to enjoy the delights of jetpackery — because the folks at Spalab have developed an add-on unit for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 that precisely models Graham’s original device. No word yet on when it’ll be ready for downloading, but for now, the site is hosting some excellent screenshots (as above), a video of Graham’s flight, and a cool story about the history of jetpacks. Apparently …

Due to the very loud operation, and the limited flight duration, the rocketbelt was not what the Army and civilians expected. Funding stopped, and Bell Aerosystems sold their patents.

Man, who still owns the original jetpack patents?

(Thanks to Greg for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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