Introduction: DIY Jet Pack

About: The Maker Studio is a museum makerspace at Science City in Kansas City, MO. To see more of our creations follow us on Instagram @The_Maker_Studio or @ScienceCityKC

Build your own jetpack for all of your superhero, sci fi, cosplay needs. We will be assembling our own jetpack using various recyclable & craft materials. Many cosplayers and prop masters make costumes and props from everyday materials. The next time you're watching a superhero, space or futuristic movie think about how those props and costumes could have been made.

A bit about REAL jetpacks. How do jetpacks work?

It's really challenging to design a jetpack that has enough force to push a human into the air but is also safe for a human to wear on their backs. Scientists & inventors have been making and testing jetpacks since the 1940s, trying to figure out the best way of making one. The basic design of all jetpacks include: 1 fuel tanks & engines (rocket or jet engine)- most of the time two so the pack is balanced, 2. straps to secure it to the wearer, 3. controls that wrap around so the wearer can control it in the air. One for Thrust- to control the power & speed- and one for Yaw- to control the tilt and direction.

Some jetpack prototypes have actual jet engines and some have rockets. A jet engine and a rocket work in different ways:

Jet Engines- A jet engine sucks in air, raises its pressure & spins it around really fast. Fuel is then added and a spark lights the air/fuel mixture on fire and burst out of the back of the engine. As this happens the aircraft, car or jetpack is thrust either forward or up depending on how the jet engines are positioned. For more info on jet engines visit this NASA website.

Rockets- Have all of their fuel inside of them. They mix them and combust them (light them on fire) without the need for air. For more info on rocket engines visit this NASA website.


Main Materials:

  • Two large plastic bottles
  • One small plastic bottle (optional)
  • Pieces of cardboard (for support)
  • Various sizes of cups
  • Duct tape
  • Permanent Marker
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue
  • Box cutter (optional to help pierce the plastic)
  • Spray paint- silver/gold (optional for a metal look)

Detail Materials:

These materials can be used to add extra features and details to your jetpack! Such as using yarn or tissue paper to create a “flame” for when you blast off and buttons and beads for control knobs.

  • Colored paper/stickers
  • Buttons/beads/cotton balls/jewels
  • Decorative tape/metallic tape
  • Yarn/tissue paper/pipe cleaners/tulle
  • Crayons/Markers
  • Recycled odds & ends that look cool

Step 1: Decide on the Look of Your Jetpack

You can assemble lots of different pieces and then paint your jetpack to make it look however you choose or you can leave the materials how they naturally look. You could choose a color pallet based on the style or feel you want. Do you want you jetpack to look steampunk or cyberpunk, futuristic or retro, have just a few colors or ALL the colors? It's up to you.

If you want your jetpack to look like metal you can spray paint your bottles and cups before doing anything else. Keep in mind that if you spray paint all of the bottles you can't see the fun things inside the bottles.

For the best of both worlds paint the top 3/4 of your bottles like the one in the second picture. To do this we taped part of the bottles with blue tape to mask off (or cover) the area we didn't want to paint silver. When we took the tape off we had a two tone bottle.

Step 2: Make Your Jetpack's Straps

Start with about one foot of tape, if you get a piece of tape any longer than that it can be very tricky to work with and get frustrating. Don't worry if your straps aren't long enough to wear right now, you can add onto them to get them perfect after your jetpack is complete. Lay your 1 foot length of tape down on a flat surface sticky side up.

You're going to fold your tape into 3rds. First, fold one side into the middle so the two sticky sides are touching each other. Now your tape should be half sticky and half smooth. Now fold over the other sticky side so that it connects with the smooth. Your strap should be about ½ inch in width.

Repeat this process so that you have two straps.

Step 3: Prepare and Slice Holes for Your Straps

If you haven't already, take off the labels and rinse your two large plastic bottles. Now use your marker to mark two 1.5" long lines at least 5" apart on each bottle. These marks will be where you will cut a slit into the bottle that you can slide your jetpack's straps through. With your box cutter or your scissors, pierce the plastic where you have marked it, and slice or cut a small opening.

Be careful as it is easy to slip and either cut your slit too large or possible cut yourself. If you are inexperience cutting things like this get someone to help you.

Repeat with your second bottle.

Step 4: Insert Your Straps Into Your Bottles

With one strap & bottle; insert the strap into the one of the bottle’s slits. Push the strap though the bottle to the other slit, hold your bottle so that gravity is helping you get the strap to the right position. Carefully pull the strap through with your finger or some tweezers. Make sure some of the strap is sticking out of the slits on both ends.

If this gets too hard or frustrating you can always make the straps come out of the opening at the bottom of the bottle as well.

Repeat with the second bottle.

Step 5: Add Details to Your Bottles

Add fun details to the inside of your bottles like cotton balls, pipe cleaners, string, etc. You can also cover parts of your bottles in decorative tape. This can add a bit of fun color pop and movement to your creation.

If you want to add on wiring or tubing you can easily connect it by pushing it through a hole in your bottles. You can make a hole with an awl, a sharp tool made for making holes & divots. Just like with the box cutter- Be Careful- you can slip and poke yourself. If you don't have a lot of experience with using an awl, ask for help from someone who does.

Step 6: Adhere Your Bottles Together

Make sure your straps are facing the same side (this will be the back of the jetpack). Using hot glue, adhere your bottles together. If you are using a 3rd smaller bottle or cylinder, you can glue it in the center on the front between the two larger bottles.

Be Careful with thinner plastic bottles as too much hot glue can melt them. Try using little beads of hot glue in many places rather than gobs of hot glue concentrated in one area.

Once your bottles are glued together, flip to the back of the jetpack where the straps are, and use hot glue and small pieces of cardboard to secure the bottles together even more. You can also help your jetpack stay together with more decorative tape.

Step 7: Add Propulsion to Your Jetpack

Next, take the cups of various sizes- these will be your propulsion engine for your jetpack. You can be creative and make it how you want too! Your flames can be anything-yarn, tissue paper, colored paper, etc. You can see how we made our engines in the photos.

Once your engines are done, attach them to your jetpack with hot glue. You can prop your engines up as the glue cools so you don't have to hold them in place the whole time.

Step 8: Add the Details

Use your imagination and extra supplies to add details or create a control pad. This part is completely up to you.

Step 9: Finish Your Straps!

Now, with your jetpack complete you need to connect the ends of your straps. You might also need to make your jet pack straps longer. Put your jet pack on (jets facing down) and test them out by holding them in place.

If your straps need to be longer: Use duct tape to make more straps. To add them to your original jet pack, overlap them onto the existing straps & connect them by wrapping small strips of duct tape around the connection point. (See photo 1)

When you have both straps the right length you'll need to connect the ends each strap to together by overlapping the ends & wrapping a small section of duct tape around the connection point. You'll now have two circular straps, one on each of the bottles.

When you're done, take flight!

You did it! You made a retro jetpack!