Time will be the teller – along with Netflix maybe – of whether the brainchild of Glenn Martin will end up on our screens like the telling of Kiwi-engineering legend Burt Munro, in the Hollywood blockbuster, The World’s Fastest Indian.
Martin, too, was a southerner. His garage – like Munro’s – produced an unbelievable piece of engineering and good ol’ Kiwi out-of-the-box thinking and creativity. One wanted to go fast. The other wanted to fly.
Out of Martin’s Christchurch garage came the “single person aircraft” the Martin Jetpack. In you’d strap, using hand controls to pilot the craft amid a standing frame. It was more than a jetpack. powered by a petrol engine, two ducted fans provided the lift-off among a host of features including carbon fibre airframe and landing gear, aluminium quad rotor, and titanium and Inconel exhausts.
It may pale in comparison to today’s standards… Kiwis now putting things into space. But this was the 1980s and Martin was a Kiwi pioneer.
Last year, people got a chance to buy a rare piece of Kiwi aviation and engineering history when the Martin Aircraft Company went into liquidation and most of the company’s assets were sold.
That included one Martin Jetpack that sold for $37,600 and another that sold for $158,200. It also included a tender package of jetpacks, unmanned drone test aircraft, spare engines, training simulators, every imaginable spare part, computer servers, branding and technical documentation – all of which was purchased by an overseas buyer.
But perhaps a twist-of-fate will now lead to a Kiwi owning a historic piece of local genius.
Now, two more Martin Jetpacks have been located and went on sale last week.
“I was absolutely blown away by the interest in the aircraft last year, and I’m pleased that the discovery of these additional two aircraft will give others the opportunity to own a piece of New Zealand aviation history,” says Skylarc Asset Realisation’s Sam Brown.
“Given the price of fuel right now it’s probably just as well neither of these aircraft have engines, but they’ll still be a great talking point for years to come.”
One of the aircraft has flown extensively, while the other had never been assembled until it came into Sam’s warehouse.
Sam is staying quiet on where and how the two latest aircraft were unearthed and what price he thinks they may reach but he’s pleased they were found and can now go to new homes.
The Martin Jetpack was designed to be easy to fly, so it could be used by first responders and could also carry a payload. It was able to fly for almost half an hour.
Martin Aircraft Company Limited closed its doors in 2019.