Martin Aircraft Company founder Glenn Martin says a difference in opinion over the firm's path to commercialisation led to his resignation as a director just three months after its initial public offering and listing on the Australian stock exchange.
"It's become clear since the IPO that the company is going in a different direction to my vision," said Martin, who began developing the jetpack in his garage in 1981. "I haven't left the company - the company has left me."
Earlier today, Martin released a public statement about his resignation that stopped short of describing the reason for his sudden departure but delivered a strong piece of advice: "Deliver the dream that people want, not the product that is easiest to build. Now don't f@#k it up!"
He said it had always been his dream to build a personal jetpack that everyday people could use, but the company had been increasingly focused on developing an aircraft for professional applications such as police and search and rescue.
"We used to go off to Oshkosh, which is the big air show in the United States where the general public come along. It's what they call general aviation - people who fly little microlights and build their own aeroplanes," Martin said. "Now [Martin Aircraft] has canned doing that and they're going off to the Paris Air Show, which is a big corporate event where the military get together, drink wine and talk about how wonderful they are."
He said he felt uncomfortable "working in those circles".
"I'm not a corporate beast - I'm an inventor of a jet pack ... that people want to fly around in," Martin said. "It wasn't any fun for me anymore."
The company said in February that the firm expected to begin deliveries of its First Responder aircraft - developed for police, search and rescue and other government uses - during the second half of 2016.
I'm not a corporate beast - I'm an inventor of a jet pack ... that people want to fly around in. It wasn't any fun for me anymore.
Martin, who has retained a 15.9 per cent stake in the company, said he still hoped the business would be "dramatically successful".
"I own a lot of shares in the company so the more successful they are the better it is for me personally," he said. "It just doesn't excite me to get out of bed every morning and go to work in a corporate environment and build corporate stuff."
The 55-year-old said he was planning to take a holiday.
"I've still got a few more years, hopefully, of sanity and continence left to have some fun."
He has a few ideas for new inventions, which he did not want to reveal.
"It will be secret until I let the public know about it."
Asked whether he regretted relinquishing control of the company, Martin said he never had a choice.
"Doing this was always going to be expensive and I never had the money to do that," he said.
He said the company was in a good position, with great facilities, more than 25 staff and tens of millions of dollars in the bank.
"I believe I leave the company I founded with huge resources and potential," Martin said.
In a brief ASX announcement, released yesterday, the company said Martin had tendered his resignation as a director with immediate effect.
"The board of the company wishes to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by Mr Martin in the initial development of the Martin Jetpack and wish him the best of success in his future endeavours," the statement said.
Deliver the dream that people want, not the product that is easiest to build. Now don't f@#k it up!
Martin Aircraft chief executive Peter Coker declined to comment on why Martin had resigned when contacted this morning.
"It's a decision that Glenn Martin made himself, not our decision at all," he said. "We're very sorry to see him go." Asked whether Martin had fallen out with the firm, he said: "I think it's just really a decision for Glenn Martin to make."
Martin said his departure had been amicable.
Speaking from the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where the firm has just held a board meeting, chairman Jon Mayson also declined to give a reason for Martin's departure.
"We're sorry he's decided that he doesn't want to continue on the journey with us," Mayson said. "He's made a decision and that's it as far as we're concerned ... it is what it is and I just have to accept the fact that he wants to stand aside and respect that."
In August the company was claiming 40 pre-orders for its jetpacks, representing $6 million in sales.
The Christchurch-based business raised more than A$27 million through its oversubscribed IPO, which will primarily be used to commercialise its flying machine.
Martin Aircraft listed on the ASX at A40c in February.
The shares recently traded down 3.2 per cent at A75.5c.
Martin told the New Zealand Herald in March about the origins of his jetpack.
"I was drinking with some mates and we got to talking about whatever happened to those flying cars and jetpacks," he said. "Something went off in my head and the next day I was down at the library researching jetpacks. The mission to build one was on."
Martin said he had mortgaged his family home three times to keep the project going.