WELLINGTON - A New Zealand company developing personalised jetpacks skyrocketed Wednesday in the wake of its debut on the Australian stock exchange this week, briefly doubling its share price.
The Martin Aircraft Company reached a high of 91 cents on Wednesday, up 107 per cent on its opening price of 44 cents, before retreating to 69 cents in early afternoon trade.
The jetpack is the brainchild of New Zealand inventor Glenn Martin, who has been developing the project for more than 30 years at his Christchurch workshop.
Inspired by childhood television shows such as "Thunderbirds" and "Lost in Space", Martin set out in the early 1980s to create a jetpack suitable for everyday use by ordinary people with no specialist pilot training.
The result is a one-man jetpack that can reach heights of more than one kilometre (0.62 miles) and fly for 30 minutes at speeds of up to 74 kilometres per hour (44 mph).
The first versions, aimed at emergency services personnel, are expected to be delivered in late 2016 with a price tag of about $US200,000 apiece.
"Commercial jetpacks are no longer the domain of science fiction," Martin Aircraft chief executive Peter Cocker said.
"The dream of Glenn Martin to create a commercial jetpack is about to be realised." The jetpack is actually propeller driven. It consists of a pair of cylinders containing propulsion fans attached to a free-standing carbon-fibre frame.
It is powered by a two-litre V4 engine generating about 200 horsepower and comes with a rocket-propelled parachute in case anything goes wrong.
While initial versions will be targeted at "first responders", Martin eventually plans to make his invention available to the public.
He has said previously that he envisions the device becoming a "jetski for the skies".