Australian-born designer Marc Newson’s James Bond-style “Body Jet” personal jetpack was first revealed in 2010 during his “Transport” exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. At the time Newson hoped that the “Body Jet” would be the first to be available for purchase but has been pipped to the post by New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company which will begin the rollout of its long-awaited Martin Jetpack in 2013.
Newson’s aerospace ambitions are no secret. in 2007 he was commissioned by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) to design a space plane and as Creative Director of Qantas, he designed the Qantas Skybed and the interiors for their A380 aircraft. Newson has even founded an aerospace design consultancy to nurture his futuristic flight fantasies.
Originally commissioned in 2010 by a small French company specializing in the production of aerospace components, the “Body Jet” remains a concept but has been the subject of much discussion following the impending market release of the Martin Jetpack. Perhaps the renewed interest in the project will encourage Newson to hasten the release of a commercially viable version.
The original idea for the “Body Jet” was to develop a wearable jetpack that would enable a single person to fly autonomously. In his eponymous Taschen encyclopaedia Newton describes the jet pack as “a small object you could strap yourself into.” He then goes on to say that “[it] is not a new idea and was tried as long ago as the 1950s, but no one has succeeded in making a commercial reality or even managed to do it cleverly, not to mention with good looks.”
Newson’s “Body Jet” is best described by Gagosian in the catalogue for the 2010 “Transport” exhibition. Gagosian describe the “Body Jet” as: “a prototype of a personal flying machine designed for both civilian and military use, straight from a James Bond or sci-fi movie. Powered by a small, lightweight jet engine that has several hours autonomy, the jet pack operates with a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). A specially designed helmet is worn by the user.
“The black and yellow jet pack is manufactured primarily in carbon fiber composite materials. The landing gear/cradle is designed to rotate and retract to a horizontal position during flight. A deployable parachute is seamlessly incorporated behind the pilot’s head in case of emergency.”
The French company that commissioned the “Body Jet” have developed and patented concepts for the gyroscopic control system but have had to wrestle with bureaucratic delays. “Since bureaucratic and technical issues for such a project require years to resolve,” says Newson, “if you can get the design part of the process underway toward the beginning it helps the project advance faster.” If Newson could attract proper funding for the development of a commercial version of his invention, there is still a chance it could be gracing the skies in the not too distant future.