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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

The Future: Here Sooner than We Think?

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

The Future: Here Sooner than We Think?

Andrew Ryan

Commercial jetpacks are real. They cost more than the earnings of my entire working life combined, but they can send a human being 5000 feet into their air safely. I only just discovered this. I was living in the dark for so long. “Jetpacks?” I used to think, “Like in the movies right?” NOT ANY MORE, all you need to do to get one is go to the company website, make a deposit of $5000, sign a contract, pay another $45,000, then another $50,000, and then A PERSONAL FUCKING JETPACK SHIPS TO YOUR HOUSE. You don’t need a license to use one, just a little bit of special training, and then you can launch off into the air and zoom around for half an hour, at around 100kph. OH. WHAT? YES PLEASE.

And this got me to thinking… will I be around when jetpacks zoom through the air above me every day? The inventor said that within a few years the cost should go down to that of a mid-range motorcycle, making them more accessible to the general public, so if everything goes well for him, then maybe yes to my wonderings. I may even own a jetpack! I’d prefer it to a car for sure, I would also prefer it to a scooter, so long as the fuel is right. I don’t think I could bring myself to own a petrol-powered jetpack; it doesn’t quite fit with my ideas about futuristic sustainability. In fact, the thought just makes me really sad about the importance people place on achieving their childhood dreams at the cost of the environment…

There are bound to be different classifications of jetpacks: military, emergency service, commercial and of course, private. The implications of this are both exciting and fairly obvious. The police will have easier access to the secluded areas people can hide themselves and their illegal activities in: rooftops, secret gardens, mountainous areas, all the dodgey places. Rescue operations could be a thousand times easier, if the maximum weight carried by a jet pack is increased by double (the current is around 100kg). The fire department might be able to maneuver themselves around to more effectively put out fires, and rescuing cats from trees will be a cinch.

At first, I imagine things will be a little confusing with the private owners: a few rich people will have jetpacks, they’ll be all excited and flying around their properties and the nature areas they live near, but the desire to use them will inevitably go beyond pure recreational enjoyment within at least a few months: “I’ll just nip around to my sister’s house with the jetpack, just to see the look on her face.” Or “Maybe the boys at the golf club would appreciate a dramatic entrance on this baby.”

As prices decrease and ownership increases, so too will the amount of air traffic increase, and rules will have to be put in place to stop all the people with no common sense from hurting themselves and each other. Maybe they would create specific areas in which you can fly in public spaces, like footpaths except in the sky… and closed in… it would never work otherwise, people would fly around anywhere unless there were sky-cops making sure everyone kept to the path. But the cost of that would be ridiculous. Maybe every jet pack owner would have to pay the state in which they are living/traveling a small fee for using the air space so that it can be policed properly. Or maybe engineers and physicist- and anyone else concerned with such things- will invent a whole new system, something like permanent clouds-roads to jetpack between… but that could create all kinds of problems.

It would make sense to have allocated launching and landing points too, as well as storage facilities… maybe just a brand new building (or two, or three) in every suburb, made especially for jet packs. There are a bunch of landing bays on the roof, you get a ticket, the people who work there wheel your jetpack off, refuel it and lock it up, then you pay for the hours it was there and the refuel cost when before you fly off into the sky again. Think of the jobs that would be created in every city! Or not, because they will inevitably get a bunch of machines to do that by the time this scenario could become a reality. But I hope not. I totally would have done that job as a teenager.

I picture this all happening around five years from now. You know, if the world doesn’t end or “change considerably” by the end of this year. Imagine it: the carbon tax has barely made a dent on in anyone’s budgets yet companies are decreasing their carbon emissions, the bio fuel industry is just starting to really take off as a result, gay marriage is legal everywhere and anyone still against it is sent to jail for being awful, I’m nearing my 30th birthday but it’s made better by the fact that I have managed to get myself a little jet pack to zip around my chosen home city with, flying from place to place, photo-shoot to photo-shoot, café to bar, experimenting with aerial photography (and aerial film making???) as I go. What a life. I can’t wait. Might start saving now.