The jet pack conjures up images of the Jetsons, or James Bond blasting off in the film Thunderball. But in Mexico, there is a man who believes he can bring back this obsolete technology and make it useful for everyday life.
Juan Manuel Lozano Gallegos is one of only two men in the world keeping the dream of the jet pack alive. While his version of the Rocket Belt doesn't blast him very high, it does work. Less successful are his rocket bike and other gadgets.
Lozano is a self-taught engineer, scientist and pilot — and the designer of what was, for years, the only commercially available jet pack, or "Rocket Belt," as he calls it.
Lozano, 53, said he saw one when he was a child in Mexico and promised himself that one day he would build one of his own.
"It took me almost 30 years to develop it," he said.
His workshop is full of gadgets, odd-looking pieces of metal, glass tubes and cylinders wrapped in tin foil — and two of his gleaming jet packs.
The harness fits on the body, the controls stick out in front, and on either side are two jet engines pointing downward.
To call them his obsession would be underestimating the size of his commitment to rocket technology.
"I have financed everything by myself. I have to spend all my money in my projects," Lozano said.
He makes about $20,000 whenever there's a request for the jet pack to appear at events or trade shows. But those requests are rare.
This passion of his is not a money-maker. "I have not sold any single Rocket Belt right now. I hope to sell one or two, but I haven't sold any because most of the people is afraid."
He used to offer them for $250,000, but his company, Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana, now advertises a Rocket Belt package for "only $125,000" on its Web site, where a photo of Lozano after his maiden flight has the caption, "I was very happy!"
Buyers should know, though, that jet packs don't fly for very long.
"In truth, the Rocket Belt isn't good for travel or transportation," he says.
His jet packs can carry people aloft for about 30 seconds at a time. Still, he's fanatical about them, and he admits people think he is mad.
"I am alone. I work absolutely alone. I have to make everything by myself."