Jetpack to join planes at the Great Plains Fly In

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By Mick Jensen

The futuristic Martin Jetpack will join custom-built aircraft from all over the country in town early next month as the Ashburton Airport hosts the Great Plains Fly-In.

The annual home-built aircraft extravaganza is hosted and organised by the Ashburton Aviation Museum in conjunction with Sport Aircraft Association New Zealand (SAANZ) and is held in alternate years between Ashburton and the Bay of Plenty.

Ashburton’s central location and traditional grass landing strip are both drawcards for flyers who are expected from all around the country for the February 3-6 event.

Seminars for pilots and aircraft enthusiasts will be given by the Civil Aviation Authority, specialised aviation weather experts and also Ivan Campbell, who builds replica Spitfires to 80 per cent of their original size.

A big attraction at this year’s event will be a static display of the Martin Jetpack, the world’s first practical jetpack.

The purpose-built gasoline engine drives twin-ducted fans, produces sufficient thrust to lift the aircraft and a pilot in vertical takeoff and landing and is the brainchild of Kiwi Glen Martin.

Visitors were welcome and flying on the main public day of Saturday would commence from around 9.30am, said event spokesman Warren Janett.

Sunday was also a good day to look at aircraft and to talk with pilots before they departed.

Organisers were hoping for 100 or more visiting aircraft at the event, but numbers would be dependent on the weather, said Mr Janett.