If you've ever seen the classic James Bond flick "Thunderball," you probably remember that great action scene in which 007 makes his escape from some bad guys by slipping on a rocket-equipped backpack and blasting off into the sky [source: Parker]. Jet packs were first dreamed up by German scientists during World War II, and after the war, the Pentagon longed to develop its own version [source: Kaku].
In the 1950s, at Bell Aerosystems in New York, a visionary engineer named Wendell F. Moore created his own version of the concept, a 125-pound (57-kilogram) "rocket belt" powered by a canister of liquid nitrogen. For its part, the U.S. military eventually gave up on jet packs as a practical mode of battlefield transportation, in part because flyers could only carry enough fuel to stay aloft for less than half a minute [source: Rocketman.com].
But we are getting really close to the jet packs we were promised. New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft has approval for manned test flights of its P12 Jetpacks. And although the company has sent unmanned packs 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) in the air, these manned flights will only be 20 feet (6 meters) over land and 25 feet (7.6 meters) over water [source: Oremus]. And guess what -- the company is taking orders. Law enforcement and government agencies can order one for an expected mid-2014 release, and private jet pack enthusiasts (and who isn't) can get on a waiting list for a possible 2015 purchase [source: Martin Jet Pack].