Come fly with me
Glenn Martin of New Zealand’s Martin Aircraft Co. turned to the Internet when looking for test pilots willing to pay for the privilege of flying the Martin Jetpack. The piston-powered ultralight aircraft, moved by two large ducted fans, lets the pilot be strapped in upright and control the machine with both hands.

Two auctions were underway. The first, on TradeMe, is for a single flight to help “make the Martin Jetpack the world’s easiest to fly aircraft,” according to the description.

Test pilots will fly under the supervision of the Martin Aircraft flight team. The team has completed 5,000 test flights this past year without incident.

The second, running on eBay, received an opening bid of $30,000 for six flights, three days of training, and official certification as a jetpack test pilot. The winning bidder can take the flight on their own or invite up to three friends to take part in the historic occasion. The catch: the expenses for getting to New Zealand for the three-day training and flight are the responsibility of the winner. Martin says anyone who can strap into the device can submit a bid. “Whoever wins this auction, whether it’s a highly qualified pilot or someone who has never flown before, we will tailor a testing program that matches their skill,” he says.

Martin wants to build his business by offering these flights as a tourist attraction. He insists the thrill-seeker version of the Jetpack will be safe and fun. “Our aim is to make the easiest-to-fly aircraft in the world,” he says. “Because of the fly-by-wire systems we have developed in the last year, we recently had a novice pilot fly solo quite safely with 12 minutes of flight time.”

Slumping economy = conservative colors
The 2008 DuPont Automotive Color popularity Report indicates that, for the second year in a row, white is the top vehicle color in North America, followed by black and silver. Experts believe the slumping economy has a lot to do with it.

When purchasing a car during economic downturns, people tend to be more conservative when it comes to color. Customers avoid getting too trendy and stick to subdued colors, fearing they might later regret choosing a bolder color, but can’t afford replacing the car.

Thanks to new paint finishes and additives, traditional colors are coming to life. These four-to-five pigment colors now have seven to nine, creating a unique finish and a shift of color as the vehicle moves.

While white, black, and silver will always be favorites, the popularity of true chromatic colors, such as blue and green, is rising as consumers and automakers look to more environmental themes and lifestyles.