Yay, yet another crazy invention!

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2008

The automobile, the washing machine and the radio are just a handful of inventions that have made life a little less difficult for human beings.

However, along with the convenient machines that have come along throughout the decades, so have come the perplexing and just outright foolish ones.

This week, Glenn Martin of New Zealand revealed his creation, the Martin Jet Pack. In case you don’t have a clue as to what this is, think of the popular cartoon “The Jetsons,” which depicted a futuristic family.

Basically, it’s a personal sky rocket for the insane at heart…and in the head.

The 250-pound contraption reportedly can fly a passenger (which is strapped into a belt apparatus to the jet packs) 30 miles in 30 minutes on a five gallon tank of gas. Still, this has been proven only in theory, and has yet to be demonstrated on the machine itself.

The creator’s 16-year-old son demonstrated how the machine works at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s aviation convention held each year in Oshkosh, Wis. Two spotters assisted in anchoring the teen while he maneuvered the prototype, because the slight wind that was present in the area could have caused him to drift.

Although the contraption is designed to fit with the Federal Aviation Administration guidelines of an ultralight vehicle, federal regulations could limit the use of the Jet Pack. Then there is the hefty price tag of $100,000 for something that has not been proven to work the way the inventor says it works.

Well, if there ever was an impulse buy, this is it.

I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’m not ready to see people flying around on jet packs. Let’s face it; people can barely drive cars, no scratch that, they can barely operate bicycles.

And it’s just weird…kind of like a Star Trek fan’s fantasy come to life.

Reading about this contrivance, I couldn’t help but think of the Segway that came out a few years ago.

The Segway is a self-balancing, two-wheel electric vehicle in which you stand on to operate, ‘nuff said.

This machine was bizarre when I saw it on television, it was strange when I saw it being used by law enforcement officers in Charlotte and it still is and forever will be odd to me.

Each person I’ve seen on a Segway looks similar to a robot, you almost expect them to whiz up to you and start speaking in a mono-tone, mechanical voice.

Perhaps I’m overracting. Maybe this is how people felt about the airplane before it was invented, and in a few years we’ll all be flying around on Jet Packs or zooming down to the grocery store on a Segway.

I’ll happily still drive a car around town.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email:amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.