CES 2018: Jetpack Aviation's chief has fear of heights

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David Mayman and jetpack
Image caption,
Mr Mayman is promoting a forthcoming jetpack at the CES tech show

A former commercial pilot who has carried out about 500 jetpack test flights has admitted that he does not like heights.

"I can look out of the window of an aeroplane no problem," David Mayman, chief executive of Jetpack Aviation, told the BBC.

"But even being in the office when I look out of the window I feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck."

He added that his secret to being able to fly was: "I try not to look down."

Jetpack Aviation is at the CES tech show in Las Vegas to show off a prototype of its latest jetpack model, the JB-11.

It can fly as high as 15,000ft (4,572m) for up to 12 minutes.

Its top speed is 200mph (321 km/h) and the maximum distance it can travel in a single journey is about 20 miles.

It can carry a person weighing up to 120kg (265lb).

Image source, Jetpack Aviation
Image caption,
Mr Mayman jetted over Port of Long Beach, California for this photo in November 2016

The machine is powered by six turbo jet engines and carries 25 litres (5.4 gallons) of fuel.

The controls are a mixture of manual and computer control, Mr Mayman said.

Tilting the joystick-like handles down changes the vector of the thrust, pushing the device backwards.

"I think it's as close as you get to that dream of the magic carpet, just being able to float gently above the ground."

Image caption,
The prototype is capable of short trips but not long distance travel

Mr Mayman said most of his firm's clients are military, including the US Special Forces, but that one day the jetpack could also be a useful tool for the emergency services.

He added that he personally became involved with the business almost by accident.

"I became a jetpack pilot [because] I couldn't convince anyone to fly the thing when we first started developing it 10 years ago," he recalled.

"So, I ended up being chief executive and crash test dummy.

"When I'm in the jetpack I look at the horizon and I try not to look down past my feet.

"I get butterflies in my tummy and the blood rushes from my brain."

He added that his own experience suggested that jetpacks would not become a common mode of transport, at least in their current form.

"In the future what everybody will fly with is something you would sit on," he said.

"Something more comfortable than this."

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