We must admit we had a bit of trouble deciding which Aussie site to put this article up on.

Referred to in some descriptions as a ‘motorcycle in the sky’, when we had a look at the picture and read a little further, to be honest it’s a little hard to categorise, so we closed our eyes and stuck a pin in the page and chose to put it here on the personal loans site.

As you may know, we love our technology stories here, with coverage of the flying car and the flying motorbike previously, but to be honest this is the vehicle we think will get going first: the Martin Jetpack.

The company, set up by inventor Glenn Martin, is based in Christchurch in NZ. The Martin Jetpack is a carbon fibre framed aircraft/vehicle equipped with a gas powered V4 piston engine which drives two fans on either side of the cockpit. When Martin was growing up he used to watch all the kid’s favourite shows like Thunderbirds and Lost In Space and so thirty years ago determined to design a vehicle that could be piloted by people without any training in aviation. Fast forward to 2010 when his design was chosen as one of Time magazine’s top 50 inventions, after many years spent ‘tinkering’ with the concept in his garage.

Now the latest prototype, the P12, has been given a permit by the Civil Aviation Authority to conduct manned tests, which will happen in the next few months.

The ‘pilot’ is strapped into the frame and is able to control the jetpack with two joysticks. Propulsion and lift are provided by the engine and the two fans.

The jetpack isn’t really built for speed as such – top speed is 74kmh with a cruising speed of 56kmh and it is designed to operate at altitudes up to 1.5km. Applications of the vehicle range from military through to commercial (one company is interested in using the jetpack for inspecting and testing floodlights in stadiums and sportsgrounds), through to the high end thrillseeker market. It’s also being looked at as a potential emergency and search & rescue vehicle.

Latest tests of the jetpack show it is capable of a 30min flight over 30km, and one of the other benefits of the design is that it can flown remotely, allowing a machine to be flown in and bring someone back again.

Safety has been considered as well throughout the design – the jetpack is fitted with a rollcage to protect the pilot and an emergency parachute. 

Just before you call us to arrange finance for your new jetpack, you should probably know that the pricetag will be north of $150,000 – and that’s US dollars – although the company expects the price to come down once the jetpack is in production. As it is still in testing phase, the company doesn’t expect to see the jetpack on the market until 2015 at the earliest, so there’s time to start saving.

Martin Aircraft Company CEO Peter Coker said “It’s essentially a motorbike in the sky, so I imagine anyone who has a snowmobile or a jetski, this is going to be something they’re going to want in their garage.”