Home Ground design Eyes on the sky: Poplar Man unveils patent-pending jetpack design – Superior...

Eyes on the sky: Poplar Man unveils patent-pending jetpack design – Superior Telegram

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POPLAR — A local engineer has spent the past two years designing a prototype jetpack.

Strapping his SkyPak V1 to his back on April 8, Daniel Gant pulled the door of his studio in the village of Poplar. It was for a photo shoot, but not for a flight.

Daniel Gant, founder of Ascend Dynamics, LLC, dons the prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, outside his home in Poplar on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram

The current electrical design involves 30 pounds of drone batteries to power the 12 blades. They’re noisy, a problem that could be reduced by replacing the 20-inch blades with 40-inch blades, Gant said.

The battery array provides 112 horsepower, enough to power a small car. In the air, where every ounce matters, that translates to about two minutes of flight time and a maximum pilot weight limit of 100 pounds, he said.

Replacing the current, 55-pound aluminum frame with carbon nanofibers could reduce weight and increase flight time. Another option is to swap battery power for a lightweight, powerful gas engine and generator to provide more thrust and longer flight time.

Although the current proof-of-concept design uses hobby-grade parts, the next step will involve more sophisticated, more expensive pieces that inch Gant closer to manned flight.

The engineer plans to add cowling and guards around the fan blades, GPS and positioning sensors and the ability to fly the plane from either the ground or manually. He envisions an ultralight aircraft that flies much like a drone, with a patent-pending design that keeps the blades behind the pilot.

Daniel Gant, founder of Ascend Dynamics, LLC, steals a smaller prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, outside his workshop
Daniel Gant, founder of Ascend Dynamics, LLC, flies a smaller prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, outside his workshop at his home in Poplar on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram

The SkyPak could be used for many applications, from search and rescue to flying a worker up to changing light bulbs or performing other maintenance on tall structures. It’s years away from that time, he says, but the design works.

Ascend Dynamics, LLC Founder, Daniel Gant, smiles as he carries the prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, on his back while getting through the door of his workshop
Ascend Dynamics, LLC founder Daniel Gant smiles as he carries the prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, on his back as he walks through the door of his workshop in Poplar on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram

An artist’s concept of a flying machine backpack inspired Gant’s quest to create one. The dream started with a doll-sized model to see if the design could work. The Poplar man, 35, said his finest moment in the process was the first time a small-scale prototype took flight.

“It didn’t fly very well. It needed some tweaking, but it flew,” he said.

One of the toughest moments was when the full-scale prototype flew, sporting a wooden frame and a Gant named Mitchell mannequin store. The test flight took place in the Church Covenant Mission in Poplar.

“It didn’t fly like I thought it would. He seemed to really struggle,” almost fighting to fly, Gant said.

Every step forward brings new challenges to overcome, a process Gant said he enjoys.

“I’m really an ideas person, maybe more than an engineer,” Gant said. “That kind of attitude” I have that idea. Wondering if I can make it work” has been on my mind, basically, ever since I graduated. … And yeah, it’s been a huge blessing to get to work on a dream, if you will.

His wife, friends and family members have been extremely supportive, from turning a key to shooting a YouTube video on the project. The neighbors were also very understanding, he said.

Gant’s company, Ascend Dynamics LLC, released a video and information about the SkyPak in early April.


His passion for flying started at the age of 13 when he started flying model airplanes. Gant earned his pilot’s license at Superior while attending the University of Minnesota at Duluth. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 2012.

Gant spent five years working for Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth before turning to designing a new jetpack. Now he is at the crossroads. If funding can be obtained, Gant plans to pursue full-time research and development on the jetpack. Otherwise it can become a part-time job.

Visit the Ascend Dynamics LLC website at ascenddynamics.com or its Facebook page for more information on the project.

Ascend Dynamics, LLC founder Daniel Gant steals a smaller prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, outside his workshop
Ascend Dynamics, LLC founder Daniel Gant flies a smaller prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, outside his workshop at his home in Poplar on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram

Ascend Dynamics LLC Founder Daniel Gant gazes skyward as he carries a prototype of its SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack
Ascend Dynamics, LLC founder Daniel Gant looks skyward as he carries a prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, at his home in Poplar on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram