Martin Jetpack runs flight tests in three-storey high "tent" on Canterbury farm
Martin Jetpack has erected a three-storey high, 80 metre-long "tent" on a North Canterbury farm to test its personal flying machines.
The eye-catching white canvas and aluminium structure on South Eyre Rd between Swannanoa and Oxford stands on land leased from West Eyreton dairy farmers Geoff and Rochelle Spark, wedged between a farm shelter belt, a silage pit, and a farm irrigation pond.
Martin Jetpack chief executive Peter Coker said the "very large tent" would allow the company's Christchurch-based engineers to test how the Jetpack operated in windless, controlled conditions.
The company's engineers had previously been limited to testing Jetpack prototypes during early mornings and evenings, when prevailing winds were lightest.
The Sparks, as longtime supporters of the company, had allowed the tent to be erected beside their large water storage pond so engineers could also test it flying over water, Coker said.
Testing would probably start later this week.
Coker said the West Eyreton site was temporary and the long term plan was to have a permanent test facility, possibly at Christchurch airport.
Martin Jetpack, founded by Christchurch entrepreneur Glenn Martin, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in February 2015. It has entered into a joint venture with a major Chinese shareholder, KuangChi Science.
The company last year said its Christchurch manufacturing site at Wigram could build up to 500 machines a year, and its business model could be replicated in China. It aimed to begin selling its first Jetpacks by the end of this year and expected the recreational version of the Jetpack to sell for $200,000.
Martin Jetpack raised $6m before listing, mainly from Australia. The ASX float raised A$27m (NZ$28.6m),including A$21m from KuangChi.The remainder was from the public and existing shareholders.
Cokersaid it had always planned to use some of the cash from the sharemarket listing to pay for testing like at its new tent site.