What Is a Jet Pack?

G. Wiesen

A jet pack is a device someone wears that creates enough thrust, in a system somewhat similar to jet engines, to allow him or her to lift off the ground and fly. This flight thrust can be created in a number of ways, though a traditional “jet” utilizes fuel to drive fans that allow for takeoff. More recent versions often use hydrogen peroxide and a catalytic reaction to create a stream of heated steam that provides thrust. A jet pack is typically an impractical device, as it is not only extremely unsafe but relies on small fuel supplies that cannot allow for prolonged flight.

A mostly impractical device, the jet pack works like the engine of an actual jet, only it's worn by a person.
A mostly impractical device, the jet pack works like the engine of an actual jet, only it's worn by a person.

The basic idea behind a jet pack is a self-contained unit that can be worn and operated by an individual person, which allows the wearer to fly. In reality, however, this concept has been quite difficult to achieve and even with advances in technology it remains largely impractical. There are a number of different forms in which a jet pack can be conceived and designed, though it typically includes a rocket pack worn on the operator’s back, with different functions and controls to adjust flight. Most of these devices utilize a harness that ensures the pack remains secure on the operator, and some include a large frame that the operator fits into.

Such designs are very unsafe. They not only produce tremendous amounts of heat during operation, but also create the potential for a deadly explosion due to engine failure or crash. This type of jet pack also requires a great deal of fuel, which must be carried or worn by the operator.

More recent jet pack designs have utilized hydrogen peroxide instead of gasoline or other fuel types. On its own, the peroxide is quite safe and not prone to explosions. When introduced to certain substances, such as silver and other precious metals, the peroxide undergoes a catalytic reaction that requires no heat and produces tremendous energy. This energy takes the form of super-heated steam, which can be funneled into “boosters” that use the steam to propel the wearer off the ground.

There are even jet pack designs that utilize water, usually through a system tied to a lake or ocean, which pulls water into the device and then uses it for propulsion. These systems are much more recreational in nature and lack military or other applications. More advanced designs have utilized wings as well, allowing the jet or other propulsion method to help get the wearer off the ground and provide momentum, and then using the wings to glide for sustained flight.

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