12/05/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

UK Rocket Man Back in the Air--and in the News

Lost in all the excitement last week about Halloween and this week about something or other happening on Nov. 4 was this Inquirer story on the charming, English airline pilot Stuart Ross and his continuing efforts to build and fly his own rocket belt (like a jetpack but with, you know, rockets). Ross, who makes a few appearances in my book, has based his design on the groundbreaking (ground leaving?) work done by the quite determined Bell Aerospace engineer Wendell Moore in the late 1950s and early '60s. He has survived one jammed throttle valve (barely) during a test flight a few years back and countless confounding hours tinkering with his machine, proving at least a couple of things: 1. Defying gravity sure ain't easy and 2. Jetpack enthusiasts never stop trying. Good to see Ross is back at it--here's hoping his future has only smooth landings.

Mac Montandon is the author of Jetpack Dreams: One Man's Up and Down (But Mostly Down) Search for the Greatest Invention That Never Was (Da Capo Press, 2008). Visit his website at