It’s been 38 years since Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia raced speeder bikes through the redwood forest in a galaxy far, far away. But if that image has haunted you—no, taunted you—ever since, daring you to find something that cool and exciting you might do in your lifetime, help is on the horizon. Actually, slightly above the horizon.
The visionary engineers at Jetpack Aviation have developed the first flying motorcycle, set to be commercially available in 2023. The bike bears no resemblance to Evel Knievel’s ill-fated rocket cycle that failed to make the jump at Snake River Canyon in 1974. In fact, this bike has no wheels at all, but offers a similar pitched-forward, straddle-the-saddle experience as you’d get from a Ducati or Kawasaki Ninja, only at an altitude of up to 15,000 feet.
If you’re already tapping your credit card on the edge of your computer, wait until you read the specs. Jetpack offers two models of what they’re calling The Speeder: Recreational and Military/Commercial.
Here’s what Jetpack says about its recreational model:
The world’s first flying motorcycle is the ultimate in personal transport, fully capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) from anywhere. No runway required; the Speeder launches from a patch of ground no bigger than a small car’s parking space. Lighter than most 125cc motorcycles, the Speeder is fully stabilized and simple to fly, so minimal training is required, even at speeds over 150 mph and altitudes of up to 15,000 feet. You have your choice of the Ultralight Version or the Experimental Category Version.
The Ultralight Version (UVS) is for short, pleasure trips, as it only carries five gallons of fuel (diesel or kerosene) and coasts at 60 mph. The Experimental Version (EVS) is more intense, requiring a private pilot’s license to operate.
Jetpack conducts full training at its California facility. After all, that’s where the Redwood Forests are. And Jetpack boasts the only FAA authorized jet-VTOL instructors in the world, which is important when you remember what happened to that sorry squad of stormtroopers in that speeder bike chase.
Speaking of troopers, if you’re militarily inclined, or want to play the super first responder, there’s the military/commercial model. Jetpack tells us this baby’s mission is to save lives. Billed as “hands down the fastest way to get a person or cargo across town,” the Speeder is the perfect tool for military tactics, emergency response, or swift disaster relief. The craft is versatile, since it can be piloted or flown autonomously, and can get in and out of spaces that are too dangerous for a helicopter.
Now back to the credit card you’ve been tapping. The MSRP for the Recreational Speeder is listed at $380,000, only slightly more than the 2021 Ferrari 812 Superfast, but is “subject to indexed price escalation” to the date of its delivery, two years hence. Given the inflationary curve we’re currently experiencing, we can expect a vertical take-off of those numbers, which is likely to leave most consumers grounded. Still, dreams die hard, and if you’ve got the cash, 2023 could be your year to soar.