It seems like it’s been all bad news for the travel industry lately. American Airlines,the last remnant of a winning U.S. passenger aviation culture, has taken an
undesirable flight path. AMR, American Airlines’ parent company, filed with the
U.S. Bankruptcy Court citing a debt of nearly $5 billion. It’s unfortunate – but not
surprising – as many of their peers have already undergone the same proceedings.
America’s rail system leans heavily on government subsidies because its costs
outweigh the revenue it brings in each year. We may be headed in the same
direction with aviation, though it won’t be because people aren’t flying. Airlines are
integral to the way our society works.
The planet is shrinking. The Internet and the proliferation of tablets, smartphones
and other web-enabled mobile devices have literally brought the world to our
fingertips, and in a much more real way than when pundits said the same thing
about desktops and AOL. Airlines are part of that shrinking world. We fly in and out
of cities – across the country and back again. We take our dogs to Mali; we save all
year for a flight to the family vacation spot. We need airlines and they are not going
Unfortunately, the cost of doing business is cannibalizing the industry. Keeping fares
reasonable amidst climbing fuel prices, dwindling revenue and an uncertain market
are factors that are crippling this once expansive business. Many airlines have tried
to cash in on the online coupon craze as a way to promote cheaper flights in small
As rails fall further toward decrepitude in a nation that can’t afford them anymore,
and airlines seek bankruptcy protection from creditors, and interstates crumble
under their own weight, the landscape of personal travel must change. Yves Rossy is
a man leading that charge.
Rossy, also known as Jet Man, has made the dream of individual flight real. More
thrilling than a hang glider, he has built a customized jet pack with financial backing
from his sponsor, Breitling. A recent video has surfaced of Jet Man dipping and
weaving through the skies above the Swiss Alps, and even flying in formation with
two Albatross jets. His pack can reach about 125 mph and weighs 120 pounds.
Rossy has been working on and performing incredible flying displays since 2008,
and while he has suffered many crackups in the air that sent him plummeting into
the sea, he has also proven this technology is viable. Can you imagine a jet pack
future, where the skies have traffic laws for men and women operating Breitling
Personal Travel Jets? We are touching the future, but we’re not there yet.
While we won’t see jetpack dealers popping up anytime soon, the possibility of a
disruptive emerging technology filling the space left by turgid, underfunded mass
transit systems is very high. Jetman represents one possible future, but more than
that, he is evidence of the technologies we’ve always referred to in the conditional
sense. Electric cars are finally being produced and sold en masse, which brings us
one step close to the flying cars of our fantasies.
As one industry fades into the ether, there is room for another to rise and take its
place. By the look of things, what comes next is going to be a RUSH!