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Flying over the Statue of Liberty, with only a JetPack strapped to it, is just one of the many accomplishments of rocket man David Mayman. As CEO and founder of JetPack Aviation (JPA), he and his team are designing a utility VTOL, the Speeder. Hayman talks to Auto Futures about the future of the Speeder and what types of flights will be available “someday.”
Mayman is from Sydney, Australia. As a child, he dreamed of flying alone. He made a helicopter out of fence railings and a lawnmower engine when he was twelve. He had a private pilot’s license at the age of seventeen. He put his dream of flying on hold, earned a business degree and became a management consultant.
Then he worked in mergers and acquisitions in the mining sector, and moved on to the dot-com boom. He created truelocal, the Australian Yelp, which he sold to News Corp.
“In 2005, my wife said we had to do something to get out of the house,” Mayman says, which is when he started working on the JetPack.
It wasn’t an easy jump from 2005 to 2015 when Mayman flew over the Statue of Liberty. Mayman spent years on the JetPack project. He worked with Nelson Tyler who designed the Bell Rocketbelt worn by Bill Suitor during the 1984 Olympics.
Fly over the Statue of Liberty
For the first JetPack flight, Mayman took to the skies around the Statue of Liberty.
“It took many years to come. It was a lot of work. It took years because it took months to work with the FAA and all the different departments in New Jersey and New York. As this was the first public flight at an iconic location, we weren’t allowed to post it in advance,” says Mayman, “It was amazing. It went without a hitch. »
As he was flying, he saw the people on the Staten Island ferry cheering him on.
Since the maiden flight, Mayman has jetpacked over landmarks all over the world. Jetpack Aviation was established in 2016. The company offers flights for those who wish to turn their dream of flying into reality at the JetPack Experience Center in Moorpark, California. Participants keep their flight suit.
“It’s a life-changing experience. We train you and provide lunch because we have found you experience less motion sickness. said Mayman.
JetPack is FAA approved and authorized to provide flight instructions on JetPacks.
After JetPack – the Speeder VTOL
JPA has been developing Speeder since August 2018. The Speeder is an air utility turbine-powered heavy-lift VTOL for emergencies, rescue operations, firefighting and other missions. The Speeder’s speed and size allows it to go places where a helicopter would be in danger.
“We were working with the Navy with the JetPack. They wanted something easier to drive and automated. It has to be small like a jet ski or a motorcycle,” says Mayman, “When we started there were only four VTOL companies, now there are over 300.
The Speeder can fly in places where there is fire with GPS. He can spot a start of fire. Then spray a fire retardant before the fire gets too hot. Helicopters are much slower. The Speeder can be brought on a trailer and can be used to take off from the trailer and land in a small area the size of half a parking spot, he says.
JPA develops different configurations and operating modes for Speeder. It can operate with a pilot, autonomously or by remote control with VR glasses.
For recovery missions, a Speeder can fly up to 400 mph. For example, it could go from Los Angeles to San Diego in 15 or 20 minutes. No other urban air mobility option with electricity would be feasible. The problem with electric planes is payload and the limited amount of battery density.
Electric power is implausible to fly for more than 10 minutes. The Speeder uses aviation turbine fuel which, through a partnership with Prometheus Fuels, is net zero fuel, Mayman says.
The Speedster has more of a motorcycle shape and is balanced like a Segway so the rider won’t fall off at high speeds. The pilot wears a headset with communication to talk to other pilots and the ground station.
“The misconception people have about the Speedster is that it’s designed for daredevils. But it’s not just for racing. Speeder is designed with safety in mind. It’s like an airplane , if you lose a motor, you can continue to fly. If you lose control of the computer, you can continue to fly,” he explains.
A Speeder can deliver 600 pounds of medical supplies. It can also extract people from an area, whereas a helicopter requires four or five people.
The US military is turning to more electric vehicles. The Speeder can carry new batteries for these vehicles. There are Speeder configurations for a cargo tray or litter to transport casualties out of hard-to-reach areas, Mayman says.
“There is no wrong answer. We try everything to make it work.”
In 2021, the Speeder P1 was tested in captive flight. The Speeder P2 version is almost ready to be tested without attachment.
Mayman’s past work experience helped him develop skills he continues to use today to soar to new heights.
“I learned from my experiences – tenacity and how to talk to people. Nothing is easy. It also helped me learn how to negotiate and lead people. For me now, I lead engineers. Engineers love coming to work here because they see what we do. They see that we are turning science fiction into scientific reality. There is no wrong answer. We try everything to make it work,” says Mayman.
“We still have some paperwork to do to have the FAA test the Speeder P2 untethered in the desert near Los Angeles by spring or summer,” he adds.
He never stopped dreaming of the future of aviation, turning science fiction into reality and micro-aeromobility moving faster than ever.
He says: “In the future, one day, one or two people will be able to fly at supersonic speeds.”