* not a bad band name
JETPACKS: CONVENIENCE, OR CURSE?
From The Times on Sunday, August 3rd, 2030
The year is 2030. Jetpacks have now become the most common mode of transport, with 70% of the population owning one or more of the portable jet-powered personal transportation devices. Every morning, the sky fills with hundreds of millions of people worldwide who commuting to work or school above the ground. The sky is divided into three 'zones' - the lowest zone, a mere 20ft above the ground, is reserved for learner jetpackers, the elderly, and immigrant jetpackers unused to England's jetpacking rules. The middle zone, up to 30ft, is where the majority of jetpackers travel. The high-speed upper zone, or 'U-Zone,' is used mainly by emergency services, jetpacking courier services, and people who are late for something.
There's no doubt that jetpacking has become an integral part of society. But at what cost?
Overall, the global response to this new form of transport has been overwhelmingly positive. A recent survey found that 90% of all Americans rated the invention of the jetpack as "awesome," confirming the Jetpack as the best invention of the 21st Century, easily beating death-metal Disney construct turned rebel band The Jonas Brothers (82% awesomnity).*
Since jetpacking became a widespread form of transport in the early '20s, there have been a number of concerns raised about unsafe jetpack use, leading to the introduction of global safety standards and protective headgear. The headgear in particular has been very successful, leading to a 20% fall in the number of jetpack related fatalities since 2023. Titanium helmets based on the now-obsolete bike helmet are now mandatory under Clause 21 of the Jetpack Safety Standards legislation. This was passed after the invention of fortified vodka, which led to a sharp escalation in the number of serious injuries and deaths caused by intoxicated persons accidentally propelling themselves into ceilings, walls, and other people.
Following the infamous 'Waldorf Incident,' in which a harried executive running late for a meeting disregarded his fuel warning and allowed his jetpack to putt to a halt 40ft above ground, all jetpacks are now manufactured with a bottom airbag. This is attached to the bottom of both the jetpack and the jetpacker, and is colloquially referred to as the "buttbag," "saving grace," or "whoopee."
However, not all aspects of the jetpack boom have been positive. City councils worldwide are concerned about a recent rise in the number of 'jet racers.' Typically adolescent males sporting 'pimped-out' Japanese jetpacks, the racers cause havoc across all zones, keeping residents awake and raising concerns about gang violence. 'Sky Patrol,' the already-strained police unit dedicated to controlling the zones, are planning a 20% increase in patrol frequency until the jet racer problem has subsided. However, jet racers maintain that they are merely exercising their right to group together and demonstrate their jetpack skills.
Concern for the environment has prompted a recent 'car backlash,' with eco-conscious former jetpackers returning to the road in their thousands after a Scandinavian study showed the number of endangered bird species was rising at an unprecedented rate due to careless jetpacking. At one recent anti-jetpacking demonstration, protesters on the ground were buzzed by a group of jetpackers carrying pigeons, which they then released and roasted with their jetpacks exhausts. Public outcry led to the banning of all pigeons in heavy-traffic jetpacking areas. Pigeon spokespeople are outraged, claiming rampant speciesism is at play.
In conclusion the jetpack, while not a flawless solution to the problems of modern transport, is nonetheless pretty awesome.
* Source: Global Awesomnity Report, 2029.