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New Zealand's adventure tourism industry is leaping into the future with plans to offer thrillseekers a chance to fly a hi-tech jetpack.
Jetpack inventor Glenn Martin has told the Herald on Sunday he is negotiating to lease land near Christchurch Airport to open a space-age theme park, where tourists will pay between $290 and $320 for a 10-minute flight.
He plans to operate there for two years before opening parks in Auckland, Rotorua and Queenstown.
Martin, who is on track to sell his jetpack to the US Department of Defence, will this week give a lecture on his invention in honour of eminent New Zealand scientist Sir William Pickering.
Martin said the park, called JetPack Experience, would cost $2 million to set up. "My vision has always been for people to fly around in jetpacks and have fun."
The park would be separate from his Christchurch-based Martin Aircraft Company which is selling jetpacks for US$100,000 ($141,290).
"We've had a lot of interest in our unmanned version from a wide range of markets, including military and civil defence, but we've also been approached by about 30 people every week who say 'I don't want to buy one but I want to fly one'.
"It's only a matter of time before we can give the people what they want," he said.
He aimed to open the park by May next year.
Martin unveiled the Martin Jetpack in the United States in July 2008. This year he signed a $12m joint-venture deal with an international aircraft company to make 500 packs generating annual turnover of $100m within three years. The jetpacks will be sold to emergency response organisations, providing a quick way of getting aid and relief into disaster-hit areas.
He has discussed his theme park plans with the Civil Aviation Authority, which is expected to approve the idea later this year. An instructor would be in radio contact with the novice pilot and could take over remotely if needed.
* The IPENZ 2010 Pickering Lecture Series will be held in nine towns, running from tomorrow to September 16.