Is New Zealand busting out of the Great Stagnation?

Or is this a terrifying novelty for a country which doesn’t have very strict liability law?

…a planned launch of a jetpack in New Zealand next year has bureaucrats scratching their heads, particularly as the machine’s makers say the thing can travel up to 7,000 feet in the air at speeds of 50 miles an hour.

“Think of it like a motorcycle in the sky,” says Peter Coker, chief executive of Martin Aircraft Co. Ltd., which has spent 30 years developing the Martin Jetpack here. The Martin jetpack is unique in that it is not rocket powered but has a gasoline engine driving twin-ducted fans. The latest P12 prototype, a far sleeker and shinier model than the earlier versions, will allow a pilot to fly for up to half an hour.

New Zealand is taking the prospect of jetpacks in its airspace seriously, even though the product’s price—more than $150,000—means that just a few dozen have been reserved. Most of those are going to overseas customers.

And yet there is a problem, even in “regulation light” New Zealand:

“If you land in someone’s paddock, you will always land on their prime sheep,” Mr. Kenny says, stressing that liability insurance for pilots is a must.

…Still up in the air is whether they will eventually be allowed to fly over built-up areas. The latest prototype has been certified for manned test flights in New Zealand, but it can’t be flown more than 20 feet above ground or more than 25 feet above water.

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