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Buck Rogers Runs on Batteries

  • Electric jetpack
    Photo courtesy of Electric Jet Aircraft

July 27, 2019 - Electric Jet Aircraft LLC of Anderson, Indiana, recently began flight testing what is believed to be the world's first wearable electric jetpack, the EJ-1. The EJ-1 is a 16-engined, EDF Jet clustered, battery-powered jetpack that weights approximately 100 pounds depending on the battery load.

The EJ-1 is made to fly several feet off the ground with a 200-pound pilot and is manually controlled using weight-shift inputs for direction and a simple single throttle that controls all 16 motors simultaneously. The system is modular, made up of four thrusters of four motors each, a pack harness, and a handlebar.

The prototype made several tethered test flights earlier this month. According to Pete Bitar, founder and chief conceptualist for Electric Jet, it was crucial that the EJ-1 fly before they came to AirVenture.

"Oshkosh is the greatest aviation event in the year anywhere in the world," he said. "We wanted to have something that we could say actually flew. We really targeted all of our efforts to make sure that it flew before … the show. And we're really happy to have been able to do that."

According to Bitar, the EJ-1 is not only the world's first wearable electric jetpack, but also the world's smallest electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The top speed is expected to be 45-plus mph, with an endurance that is currently measured in minutes but will increase as battery technology advances.

The company is also offering individual thrusters as a product called JetPods, which can be used for propelling hang gliders, paragliders, and ultralights, or they can be stacked or arrayed to power larger aircraft with all-electric jet power. In addition, the company has also developed the VertiCycle, its entry into the GoFly Prize competition, and it has concepts on the drawing board for multiple other eVTOL designs.

Both the EJ-1 and the VertiCycle can be seen at Electric Jet Aircraft's booth, spaces D8 and D9 in the Urban Air Mobility Showcase at Aviation Gateway Park.

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