More than once in these columns I’ve noted that we are still waiting for the jetpacks we were promised by almost all futurists in the 1950s. I’ve been polite and patient but now with travel restricted, I want to know, where is my personal jetpack?

It’s not like jetpacks, rocket belts and personal hover vehicles don’t exist. Back in 1960, Bell Aerosystems developed a rocket belt for the army that worked fine but could sustain flight for only 20 seconds. I personally witnessed this rocket belt in flight, with pilot, at the Michigan State Fair around 1965. The pilot took off, flew around the parade grounds, landed and went home. Frantically I searched for the dealer in the vendor pavilion but found it was only a demonstration flight, a stunt to bring in the public. No one was offering order forms, in-house financing or even souvenir leaflets. I may have popped off a photo with the family Kodak Instamatic; like anybody can find a photo they took in the 1960s.

This was eons before personal computers, cell phones and digital cameras. It was before we landed a man on the moon, the internet invaded our homes and Elon Musk sent a Tesla Roadster into orbit for fun. And here was this guy in 1965 flying around with a rocket belt.

Fifty-five years’ worth of engineering have elapsed. We now have electronic cigarettes, drones, TikTok, way-better lawn mowers, and self-driving vehicles. Where are the jetpacks?

Recently airline pilots have reported seeing a person with a jetpack flying alongside at 3,000 feet as they brought in their jetliners to Los Angeles International Airport. Yes, I know it’s California and, yes, it’s Los Angeles so nobody is overly surprised but, fact is, someone is out there who can take jetpack joyrides alongside the big boys on their final approach into LAX.

Apparently, they exist.

Some of the old jetpacks, including the Romanian flying rucksack from 1956 and the Bell Rocket Belt, spend a lot of time in museums now. The Thiokol Jump Belt and others faded away with lack of funding. But recently, in 2013, the Martin Aircraft Company based in New Zealand demonstrated a hover conveyance that can take a person on a half-hour flight at 50 miles per hour and get you to 7,000 feet. Priced at $75,000, it isn’t quite what George Jetson used commuting to the office. With its two large ducted fans and an engine, it doesn’t meet the backpack test.

For the crazy, strap-on, Rocket Man–style rig, you have to go to Gravity Industries in the UK. This is the kind of jetpack with a couple jet engines on your back and two smaller ones on each forearm. It’s right from the Iron Man Marvel Comics pages, runs on jet fuel and burns a gallon of fuel every minute. It comes in black.

Gravity Industries offers their jetpack at $44,000. Oh sorry, I forgot a zero, that should be $440,000. I believe that’s in U.S. currency but I’m looking into it because if it’s Australian dollars, I’m all in. Still, a little too pricey for me to buy without consulting my wife first.

Already my wife is leery of my bicycle trips, sharing the road with dump trucks and with drivers distracted by text, alcohol and poor judgment. What is she going to say when I strap on that 1,000-horsepower engine and fuel up for a spin above town? I will assuage her fears and remind her that there are no dump trucks at 1,000 feet. That should calm her down.

But I find that when dreams meet reality, the problematic details materialize:

“Will you be taking your jetpack to work today?”

“I don’t know. It’s kind of cold at 1,000 feet this time of year.”

“Well that’s a lot of money sitting in the closet if you’re not going to use it.”

“I would but there’s a glitch in the controls and the fuel line has a small leak. And, I didn’t want to tell you but the insurance premium is due.”

“And, I didn’t want to tell you, but your brother-in-law came by and borrowed it last week.”

When UPS finally delivers my jetpack, I don’t want to be too old or feeble to give it a go right out of the box. On the other hand, maintenance, storage and parking when I get to where I’m going might be a nightmare. Maybe I’ll just borrow my brother-in-law’s.