IP History

V/STOL Concepts & Developed Aircraft, A Historic Report, Vol. 1  Wendell Moore flying the pressurized hose version of the first jetpack, 1957. Notice the Y split and the centering over the body side center line.  Support for lifting the body is padded loops under the arm pits, independently swiveling nozzles that have counterweight stabilization built in.

V-STOL Concepts and Developed Aircraft AFWALTR86-3071volume01-69


V-STOL Concepts and Developed Aircraft AFWALTR86-3071-Contrails-73

This is quite a gem of a report. At first blush it looks as though is is going in another direction, Zero G maneuvering belts.  Orbital space is cool, but not directly applicable to earthbound, aka one G flight, or so we thought.  This report actually extends the previous work, theory and proofs of tethered flight, center of gravity in relation to nozzles, and pivoting of the nozzles, all important components of our hydro flight sport.

The first man-lift device built by Bell was flown by several people (under controlled conditions) to determine the feasibility of the rocket belt concept. The rig incorporated two fixed rocket nozzles extending laterally from a shoulder harness, which under hovering conditions provide a thrust equal to the man-plus-rig weight. In the test rig, thrust was developed from high pressure nitrogen supplied from and external source through a flexible hose to the rocket nozzles. Figure 10 shows this test rig in action. Hovering flights of short duration were accomplished with some short fore, aft and lateral translations.

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These images come from the NASA History website for work done at the Langley Research Center. The images, the work, everything is f’ing awesome. The amazing repository of tens of thousands of photos can be found here at the Langley History Section of NASA CGRIS website.  Above and beyond the sheer awesomeness of the photos is the direct lineage back to Charley Zimmerman’s first tethered experiments and the convention that fluid thrust flight had become by eleven years later in 1962.

This personal propulsion unit has a central jet in the middle of the platform and a plurality of nozzles that direct the motion and control.  But cutting out the patent language bullshit, this unit flies on pressurized fluid using the main nozzle for thrust and balances not using the motion of the body, (this was a model for a larger lunar lander that would eventually use jet to land on the moon) but using valved compressed air for directional and stabilizing controls. The four main verticals look like jets but are not, no flexible pressure hose tubing connecting. The extension tubing, looking to be about 17 mm diameter controls the yaw and roll.


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One of the more intriguing civilian markets being considered by the rocket industry is sports.

They also agree that the personal rockets, they call their’s the “AeroPAK” — will find wide use in rescue work, fire fighting, construction, transportation and sports.


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This is the groundbreaking research, paid for by the US government and published more than fifty years ago that lead to numerous developments. The existence of these movies, images, reports keeps open the hydro sport field and prevents anyone from claiming ownership and attempting to establish a monopoly. The pilot seated in the chair is connected to hoses, has a center of gravity clearly below the thrust nozzles, and is most certainly mobile in relation to the base unit, tank or compressor.

  • a body unit having a center of gravity, wherein the body unit includes a thrust assembly having at least two thrust nozzles located above the center of gravity, the thrust nozzles being pivotally coupled to the body unit;

  • a delivery conduit in fluid communication with the thrust assembly; and

  • a base unit in fluid communication with the delivery conduit, the base unit capable of delivering pressurized fluid to the delivery conduit, wherein during operation the body unit is independently movable with respect to the base unit and capable of flight.

and for good measure:

  • a platform having a bottom surface, and a top surface on which a passenger can be positioned;

  • a thrust unit adapted to be supplied with a pressurized fluid, and including at least one nozzle engaging the bottom surface of the platform and oriented to provide thrust in a direction away from the position of a passenger on the top surface; and

  • a means for collecting and distributing pressurized fluid to the nozzle, the means for collecting and distributing pressurized fluid being configured to connect a supply channel to the propulsion device;

  • wherein the means for collecting and distributing pressurized fluid comprises a base to which said supply channel is connectable, said means for collecting and distributing pressurized fluid being attached to the platform in a manner that enables the base and a connected supply channel to move relative to the platform.



June 16, 1958

Just 25 years after Buck Rogers first-streaked across the country’s comic pages propelled by his personal rocket belt, the thing has actually been invented by three young scientists in Denville, N.J. They call it a Jump Belt, which sounds as handy as an automatic clutch; but you don’t just run one through the loops in your trousers. You attach it to your body with “straps and belts and things,” according to Alexander H. Bohr and Harry Burdett Jr., two of its inventors, who are vague about details because they haven’t got them all patented yet. Then you blast off, and the thrust of the rocket on your back counteracts gravity so that you are virtually weightless. You can leap a river, spring lightly up a mountain or run like the wind. Pushed along by his rocket, one man was clocked at a speed which would have given him an under-two-minute mile if he hadn’t run out of fuel.

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V-STOL Concepts and Developed Aircraft AFWALTR86-3071volume01-69

Bel Aerosystems started company-sponsored exploratory work on the concept, under Moore’s direction, in 1957 after becoming aware of the U.S. Army’s (TRECOM) interest in individual aerial mobility. A tethered system was used with pressurized nitrogen gas as the rocket propellant during the initial efforts.

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