While Jetpacks have mostly been part of science fiction till now, Domino’s Pizza seems to have made it a reality.

From Mario to Dangerous Dave, Grand Theft Auto, and Subway Surfer, Jetpacks are part of life in the gaming community, and you don’t need to explain to a gamer how they work. For everyone else, however, Jetpacks are jet-powered devices that are wearable like a backpack and give the user the ability to fly.

While Jetpacks have mostly been part of science fiction till now, Domino’s Pizza seems to have made it a reality. In a video that has since gone viral, people at the Glastonbury Festival in the UK had pizzas delivered to them by what looks like flying spacemen. While many a reveler might have mistaken this for an alien invasion, it was in-fact delivery men from Domino’s Pizza wearing fully functional Jetpacks.

Image Credit: Dominos on Instagram

A brief history of the Rocketpack

Surprisingly, the first Jetpack, or “Rocketpack” as it was called back then, was envisioned over a century ago in 1919 by a Russian named Alexander Andreev. Though the design was patented and pretty simple comprising of a rocket engine mounted on a harness that could be worn like a backpack, a prototype was never built. It wasn’t until the 1950s that an American named Wendell Moore built the first working Jetpack called the Rocket Belt which was supposed to be used by the US Army.

The problem, however, was that the Rocket Belt was extremely difficult to fly even for experienced pilots which caused the Army to lose interest in the project. Interestingly enough, Sean Connery flew the Rocket Belt in James Bond Thunderball, and Michael Jackson flew it on stage during a 1992 concert.

While there were numerous more attempts throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the recurring problem was how difficult these inventions were to fly. Even as late as 2020, pilot Vince Reffet fell 800 feet to his death during a training flight for a micro gas turbine-powered “Jet-Wing” invention. In fact, it wasn’t until 2 years ago in 2021 that UK-based firm Maverick Aviation Ltd. developed a Jetpack with an auto flight stabilization system. What’s interesting is the company’s CTO Matt Denton is an animatronics expert for Hollywood and has worked on all the Star Wars and Harry Potter movies. Flying this “Hands-Free” Jetpack is as easy as flying a drone and it can support a load of up to 150 kgs.

Image Credit: Dominos on Instagram

The Domino’s Jetpack

Getting back to the spacemen flying in to deliver pizzas at the Glastonbury Festival, the Jetpack or “Jestsuit” in question is one made by Gravity Industries, and invented by Richard Browning from the UK. Unlike the Maverick Jetpack, however, this one isn’t hands-free and consists of one turbine on the back and one turbine on each arm, the user then moves his arms and body to fly the jetpack which can take a bit of training to master.

Once mastered, the company claims the Jetpack feels like an “extension of the person.” The price of this Jetsuit is a staggering $400,000 which is more expensive than some of the projected prices for flying cars we covered in a previous topic.

All is not lost, however, as Gravity also offers cheaper options to avail this human flight experience in the form of an “individual flight experience” for $3,500 and personalized flight training programs that cost $8,500. While the company has admitted that the use of its Jetsuits to keep pizza piping hot was an unusual application, to say the least, they’re optimistic about its further use in the food industry. The Jetsuit is also being put to use by the Royal Navy which has already demonstrated its ability to help soldiers fly between Battleships and Boats. Additionally, Gravity has also partnered with British Air Ambulance in an effort to help emergency workers reach critical patients in time.

Jetpacks for the Indian Army

The army has always been interested in Jetpacks, and for good reason, soldiers wouldn’t have to hike across inhospitable terrain like the mountains of Ladakh or the jungles of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Even in areas with landmines or improvised explosive devices, soldiers can simply fly over the area without triggering an explosion.

Bengaluru-based Absolute Composites is one of the frontrunners in the race to supply the army with 48 jetpacks. This jetpack is diesel-powered, has a range of 10 kilometers, and can fly for 8 minutes up to a height of 3,000 meters. Quite a few companies are vying for the contract from the Indian Army, however, including Gravity Industries that we just talked about. It will be interesting to see how the future of Jetpacks unfolds in India and across the world.

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With a background in Linux system administration, Nigel Pereira began his career with Symantec Antivirus Tech Support. He has now been a technology journalist for over 6 years and his interests lie in Cloud Computing, DevOps, AI, and enterprise technologies.

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