NZ Innovators Awards - Most Inspiring Individual, Glenn Martin

NZ Innovators Awards - Most Inspiring Individual, Glenn Martin
What drives someone to spend most of their adult life inventing a jetpack?

“Why not a jetpack?” says Glenn Martin, inventor and founder of Martin Jetpack, and the man who has made his childhood dreams a reality. 

“Doesn’t everybody want one? I’ve wanted one from the age of five.”

After spending 34 years inventing his jetpack, Martin has recently exited Martin Jetpack, which next year will release the first commercially-available jetpack. The company says the craft can fly at up to 1000 metres for more than 30 minutes, and users need minimal instruction. 

Martin set out to make jetpacks for recreational use, but ever since his invention was revealed at a US airshow in 2008, Martin Jetpack has been approached by a broad range of potential customers from the CIA to search and rescue.

Image: Glenn Martin

So how did Martin do it when the largest aerospace companies in the world, with huge staffs and billions of dollars of R&D resources at their disposal, couldn’t? Is Martin a genius, or is he just more tenacious than his corporate competitors? 

“I believe that innovation is a process, and there’s a methodology,” says Martin. 

“They say the Wright Brothers were successful because they were geniuses, or Peter Beck managed to put a rocket into space because he’s a genius. The Wright Brothers weren’t geniuses. And Peter Beck is an incredibly intelligent guy, but I don’t think he’d call himself a genius. 

“People throw that label genius on things as if people are freaks and it’s not attainable by everybody. The truth is it’s no different to learning to run a marathon – there are some skills you need and some methodologies you need to follow.”