Jetpacks, while having been in the limelight for almost as long as the perennial flying car, have been sort of forgotten nowadays with the promise of more advanced and “cooler” technology out there capturing the attention of the world.
It is also commonly known as not the most feasible of inventions, despite the best efforts of this guy.
Now, it has been revealed that plans for turning everyone’s favourite science fiction trope have been around at least since the Vietnam War.
The invention of jetpacks that actually had a beneficial function was a major possibility in the 1960s, and it was considered to be deployed on the field of battle in Vietnam.
Military contractor for the US Department of Defense, Bell Aerosystems, developed a planning document in 1967 that laid out how the company imagined that jetpacks, or as it called it, Light Mobility Systems, could work in a war scenario.
After 3000 test flights, a new jetpack-like device was developed called the Jet Belt in 1968, the report by the contractor said.
The first use for the Belt was for reconnaissance, as the jetpack and its user was “a small, fast target, capable of evasive maneuvers”.
“It would provide a more responsive means of determining and verifying intelligence which cannot be obtained as rapidly by higher-level resources. Included are missions such as providing point and flank security for moving elements,” the report added.
Bell also noted that if soldiers were using the Belt on these reconnaissance missions they had to be armed with weapons that had as little recoil as possible.
Presumably, this was so when the weapon was fired, the soldier did not go whirling around wildly in the air (which would obviously make a terrifying image for any enemies).
These jetpacks could also be useful for so-called psychological operations.
Per the report, the devices could disseminate leaflets, be used to easily transport propaganda equipment like radios and movie projectors, and also be used to broadcast propaganda from aerial loudspeakers fitted onto the flying machines themselves.
The most obvious use for the jetpack would be in a combat scenario obviously, as the users rained death down on to the enemies.
The problem with the invention was two-fold: the fuel was way too expensive and even with huge amounts of this very expensive fuel, the jetpack could only make a limited journey, which was the nail in the coffin for this futuristic gadget.