The Great American Jet Pack

The Great American Jet Pack
The Great American Jet Pack

The Great American Jet Pack

The Quest for the Ultimate Individual Lift Device
By Steve Lehto


240 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, PDF, EPUB, Mobipocket

Cloth, $24.95 (US $24.95) (CA $27.95)

ISBN 9781613744307

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (May 2013)


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Man's dream of flying solo
For a few decades, jet packs seemed to be everywhere: on Gilligan’s Island, Lost in Space, Thunderball, and even the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics. Inventors promised we’d all be flying with them now, enabling us to zoom around effortlessly in the sky and getting us to work without traffic jams and trains. What happened to the jet pack? In The Great American Jet Pack, Steve Lehto gives us the definitive history of this and related devices, explaining how the technology arose, how it works, and why we don’t have them in our garages today.  These individual lift devices, as they were blandly labeled by the government men who financed much of their development, answered man’s desire to simply step outside and take flight. No runways, no wings, no pilot’s license were required. Soaring through the air with the wind in your face and landing anyplace there was room to stand—could this be done? Yes, it could be, and it was. But the jet pack was perhaps the most overpromised technology of all time. From the rocket belt to the jet belt to the flying platform and all the way to Yves Rossy’s 21st-century free flights using a jet-powered wing, this book profiles the inventors and pilots, the hucksters and cheats, the businessmen and soldiers who were involved with these machines. And it finally tells a great American story of a technology whose promise may, one day, yet come to fruition.


"While personal-flight prototypes edge from pipe dream to purchase order, this well-documented history provides a satisfying substitution." —Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a fascinating tale, full of wild ideas and serious science (with, yes, a little kidnapping, torture, and murder), and Lehto tells it very well.”—Booklist

Author Biography

Steve Lehto is the author of Death’s Door: The Truth Behind Michigan’s Largest Mass Murder, a 2007 Michigan Notable Book; Chrysler's Turbine Car; and Michigan’s Columbus: The Life of Douglass Houghton.