My Next Birthday Present

My commute isn’t too bad, but I’m sure a jet pack with a maximum speed of 63 mph could speed things up a bit in the morning. Many thanks to Jim Dedman, fellow contibutor, who sent me the link to this Business Week article published on June 15, which heralds the coming of the Martin Jetpack, introduced on the Martin website as the “World’s First Practical Jetpack.” While I am initially enamored of this invention, the tagline may be a bit much.

How practical can a 535 pound rocket attached to your back be? One that would surely pull you in to the dangerous activities exclusion on your life insurance policy. To Martin’s credit, they designed it as an Ultralight, to get around any requirement for a pilot’s license. I’m not sure that harness looks so comfortable either.

Practicality aside, Martin must have great confidence in its design of the jet pack. According to the Business Week article, it seems that Martin will sell the jet pack for about $86,000, which, all things considered, doesn’t seem like a whole lot of money to relive the story of Daedalus and Icarus. Unless, of course, you turn out to be Icarus on your first trip in the jet pack. Moreover, it’s not clear what type of waiver would be available, if any, to protect Martin from a strict liability claim. See, e.g., Simeone v. Bombardier-Rotax GMBH, No. 02-4852, 2005 WL 2649312 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 12, 2005). Unless a purchaser waives a known product defect, waiver is probably not viable defense. Martin would likely have a public policy problem, i.e., their fantastic waiver drafted by their presumably fantastic lawyers would not be useful in a strict liability action.

Maybe the jet pack will be a huge success. If I read the technical data correctly, the jet pack can hover at around 8000 feet, or more than a mile and a half from the ground, which sounds ridiculously awesome. I’ll wait for the tandem jet pack, as I have no desire to die alone.

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