Jetpackers back down to earth in California
Half a century after James Bond shot skywards in a jetpack in Thunderball, council officials in California are grounding users of the devices as a menace to health and safety.
In the genteel retreat of Newport Beach harbour, long a favourite of Hollywood types, the popularity of the devices has exploded, prompting a six-month moratorium on jetpack use as a prelude to an outright ban.
Residents of the waterfront homes and millionaire yacht owners had watched in awe as jetpacks took off around them, but now see them as a nuisance. The contraptions work by releasing explosive jets of water, propelling users at 30mph and enabling tricks such as walking on water.
"It was cute the first couple of weeks but now it's out of control," resident George Farah told a council meeting.
Customers pay €120 for the chance to soar like Superman, with everyone from Rob Lowe, the actor, to contestants on Next Top Model having a go. One couple got married in mid-air.
Chris Miller, Newport Beach's harbour resources manager, said the jetpacks were a threat to "peace, health and safety".
He denied being a spoilsport and said residents and boat owners had concerns about noise, "speed violations" and effects on seals and dolphins. The council has also barred private owners of jetpacks, which sell for €8,500.
Dean O'Malley, owner of Jetpack America, which has a permit to operate until next year, said the objections were overblown.
He added that jetpacks were performing a service - fulfilling people's superhero fantasies.
"The inventor of the jetpack was inspired by James Bond and Thunderball," he said. "Then for decades people were thinking 'Where are our jetpacks?' Now here they are." (© Daily Telegraph,London)