Will new jetpack signal return of Fan Man?

The Martin Jetpack, powered by a V4 engine, can reach a cruising speed of up to 63 mph. Courtesy of martinjetpack.com

Could Fan Man 2.0 be coming soon to an arena near you? If the Martin Jetpack finds the funding it needs, we could be seeing jetpack-powered people dotting the skies by mid-2013. (And no, not the hydro-powered kind from Matt Cain's perfect game back in June.)

But first, let’s just hope we don’t see another incident like the one in 1993, when the Fan Man, a.k.a. paraglider James Miller, circled the skies above Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace during the second Bowe-Holyfield fight. Miller closed in on the arena, only to get caught in the overhead lights and drop onto the top rope of the ring, where he was mercilessly pummeled. Now, 20 years later, a whole new generation of Fan Men may be upon us, thanks to New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company Limited, creator of the Martin Jetpack.

The Jetpack, which operates on premium gasoline and weighs 254 pounds, currently tests at speeds up to 63 mph and a distance of 30 miles, with a maximum altitude of 8,000 feet. Wind tests are still being performed on the Jetpack; unmanned, the company reports speeds of around 31 mph in 9 mph winds, with 6 mph gusts. Upon command, the Martin Jetpack gently parachutes to the ground.

Because the Federal Aviation Administration classifies the Jetpack within the “ultralight” class, a pilot’s license isn’t even required to operate it in the U.S. While the initial release of the Jetpack, planned for mid-2013, will target the search-and-rescue and military crowd, a personal Jetpack for recreational use is on the cards for 2014.

But before you put yourself on the wait list, hear this: Martin Aircraft Company Limited is seeking investors to help them move forward with the Jetpack. The company has put out a call for 100 investors to come forward with $20,000 each. That kind of dough, company reps say, will put you at the top of the list of future owners. Or, perhaps, future Fan Men.

See the Martin Jetpack fly to 5,000 feet in the company video below.