Will jet-packs someday replace chairlifts and helis?

Ask Dr. Flake

What's up, Science? Forty years ago, you teased us with promises of interplanetary travel, picture phones, and, dammit, jet-packs. You've made some progress with the first two, but where the hell is my liberating form of motorized personal transport? The Segway? It's a friggin' scooter. Jet-pack technology exists. We saw the Bell Aerospace Rocket Belt fly in the James Bond film Thunderball and on Michael Jackson's Dangerous tour. Yet as much as Jacko could now use one (say, for fleeing Santa Barbara County prosecutors), the Rocket Belt isn't ready for the masses. It burns fuel too fast and it can't stay aloft more than 20 seconds. These days, tech-wonks are hot over the "SoloTrek Exo-Skeletor Flying Vehicle, or XFV, a seven-foot-tall contraption that lifts off vertically via propellers and a 130-horsepower gas engine. For the foreseeable future, however, skiers will have to get high by traditional means. The first successful XFV models will go straight to the military—which doesn't deserve them as much as skiers stranded in hour-long tram lines. Thanks for nothing, Science.