When science fiction writers used to imagine the 21st century, they saw a world in which technology had so fully integrated with daily life that
human feet hardly touched the ground, between jetpacks and hover cars. Though that vision hasn’t been fully realized, the technology for flying boots has long been established.
Looking Back to Move Forward
The idea of wearing flying boots probably feels like one firmly planted in the future, but the reality is that NASA first developed such technology in the 1960s. An engineer designed what he called “rocket boots,” which would allow astronauts to move about more quickly while in outer space.
In concept, flying boots are somewhat simple compared to other technological feats. The NASA design simply required astronauts to press down their big toes, which would trigger the release of pressurized gas and send them moving. Of course, a large part of the design’s success was thanks to the low gravity environment.
Still, if the idea is sound from an engineering standpoint, why couldn’t it work here on Earth with some modifications? That was NASA’s logic when they decided to make their flying boots patent public in 2016.
In doing this, they opened the door for any scientifically-minded members of the public to improve upon the designs they had already developed. Though it hasn’t happened yet, NASA’s release of their patent brings the world one step closer to strapping on a pair of boots and flying to the grocery store.
Navy Seals and Segways
Most people on Earth have heard of America’s most best military task force, the Navy Seals.
These servicemen are equipped with some of the most advanced technology that the U.S. Military can get its hands on, and one such technology is something known at Jetboots.
These aren’t the flying boots of your dreams, but they are a sort of version of them. Rather than actually being boots, this is a system that Seals attach to their legs with propulsion mechanisms on the outsides of their bodies. They can control the direction and speed of the propulsion with their hands, making Jetboots a kind of mix between flying boots and jet packs.
Despite the fact that flying boots aren’t currently widely available, they are certainly possible. In fact, the existence of the segway is a hint that the technology is available, just waiting to be fully developed.
The same internal mechanisms necessary to keep a segway upright while moving forward could do the same things for flying boots. It would take a delicate balance of propulsion and, well, balance, but flying boots certainly aren’t out of the realm of possibility.
Getting Around in Sci-Fi
Flying boots have made countless cameos in science fiction films and television. Often, they’re an integral part of the character’s persona, like in Iron Man. Other times, they actually steal the show, like in Jupiter Ascending.
The difference between Sci-Fi and the real world is that science fiction creators can bend the laws of the universe to fit their needs, or conceptualize science that doesn’t yet exist to solve problems of real world physics. Still, on this planet with the current body of technology, flying boots are more than just a fantasy—they could come true.