This is a perfect Friday video. Why? You are about to see 1965 footage of the Bell Aerospace Rocket Belt being tested and demonstrated in various different scenarios. The throttle equipped hydrogen peroxide rocket pack was developed for the US Army as a means to study its feasibility as a military “vehicle”. Well, that part did not pan out and the Army saw the thing as a big toy, but the cool part is that Bell did not just scrap the program. While they did not continue to invest a bunch of resources in developing the idea further, the product was effectively “perfected” in the middle 1960s and the rocket belt would go on to be seen in James Bond movies, the 1984 and 1996 Olympics, and tons of other high profile events over the course of time. Despite the fact that it is 50+ years old at this point, the machine is still stunning to watch in action. Part of that to us is the “invisible” propulsion provided by the hydrogen peroxide rocket.
Just like in a rocket drag car, the hydrogen peroxide is forced out, under pressure, over a silver catalyst screen. There’s an instant reaction and steam is produced. That steam is then directed through a nozzle and voila, you have thrust. The guys you see flying the rocket packs around in this film are not Army guys or pilots per se but rather Bell engineers. The first guy who had the guts to fly it lost the handle on the pack, crashed and broke his knee. Subsequent development lead to a more controllable unit and there was never another injury associated with the rocket belt, as incredible as that sounds.
Lastly, the salsa style music used as the background in this one is epic. It is fun and kind of plays off of the “can you actually believe this is real?” nature of the Bell Aerospace rocket belt. While this thing failed as a military invention we think it wins hard on the historically great front. We can’t get enough of watching these guys fly around.