Poplar Pilot Developing ‘Skypak’ to Take Off as Personal Propeller-Driven Jetpack
With six propellers strapped to his back, Daniel Gant hopes his invention can soon help with repairs, construction and more manned-flight operations.
POPLAR, Wis.- Aviation has come a long way from the Wright Brothers’ first successful airplane flight in 1903. Now a pilot in Poplar Wisconsin is hoping his personal flying machine can take off, to eventually help with high-altitude repairs, construction, and more.
“I’m standing on the shoulders of giants and they have, there’ve been people that have done a lot of work, and they did a lot of work but they didn’t have all the knowledge and background that I have at my fingertips,” said the inventor.
Meet Daniel Gant. “I want something behind the pilot so it’s kind of just a free-flying experience.”
“I love aviation, I love flying, I have my private pilot’s license, have flown model airplanes for many, many years,” he said.
Since 2020 the mechanical engineer has worked on inventing an electric propeller-driven jetpack, called the ‘Skypak.’
“If I tilt these rotors that allows me to have full control but have everything behind me,” said Gant, showing off his invention.
“It’s really no different than any other standard drone where you have motors behind motors in front, I’m just taking the motors that are in front I’m rotating them, and translating them to a different position to do the exact same thing,” he said.
He started building small-scale models, and once those flew successfully, he moved on to this full-size prototype, manned by a dummy.
“My wife calls me the absent-minded professor,” but Gant uses an actual flight test dummy he named Mitchell.
Still, he said his loved ones have been there every step. “Some of them are like ‘yes I will fly that’ and some of them are like ‘not in a million years’.”
”It’s been a huge blessing to have that support from friends and family they think it’s neat,” said Gant.
Right now the Skypak consists of six propellers, but so far the power they produce is far from Gant’s goal of manned flight.
“Right now I’ve got a 30-pound battery and it only flies it for two minutes and that’s at half the payload that I want it to,” he said. “it can only really lift about 100 pounds in addition to itself and I’m a little bit shy of 200 pounds it can’t lift me.”
“I mean it is crazy, you know. There are aspects of this that are very dangerous and we have to put a lot of effort into mitigating those dangers,” said Gant.
Now he’s working on securing funding through his Patreon.
Because before he can dream of getting his Skypak into the air, it needs to be safe enough to be on his back.
“Ducts, that’s the big thing. This is scary,” Gant said, gesturing to one of the spinning propellers which are close to the pilot’s arms and legs. “You don’t want to be near this, I don’t want to be anywhere near this when I fire it full power.”
His next ideas include bigger propellers, bigger motors, and even a lightweight but high-power internal combustion engine. “So it’s really it’s that energy storage that’s holding us back.”
“Being able to have that ability where technology’s almost there it’s I mean we can do it, we can’t do it long yet,” he said.
First, Gant hopes the Skypak can be an ultra-light manned flight craft, which people can get trained on and don’t require a license to operate.
But he said there are even more possibilities. “Long term we would do different versions of these for search and rescue, for commercial uses like inspections. You can position hold next to an object way up in the sky like a cell tower and actually do physical work on it, it also has full autonomous mode,” he said.
But before any of those dreams, he’s got his sights set on getting his prototype off the ground.
“What I am selling is the dream of flight and an idea that is cool and it’s proven it works,” Gant said.