In 1977 and 1978, Popular Science magazine carried adverts for “THE JET POWERED SPACE RANGER”.
As Popsci notes:
…nothing can beat this mail order item. The Space Ranger could reach a height of 5,000 feet (1524 m), could take off and land vertically, and ran on “easily obtainable fuel.” Despite its fantastical appearance, the Space Ranger could be easily assembled in just a few days (supposedly). The entire thing weighed 250 pounds (113 kg) and was available for a mere $5,795 – though in 1977 this was about the price of a Ford Falcon.
Did it work, this personal spaceship for under six grand?
Was it better than Bensen Aircraft Corporation’s build-it-yourself gyrocopter of 1968?
As Yeoman says:
The ad says it will fly to an altitude of 5,000 feet, and it can go forwards, backwards and sideways! I mean, this is going to change everything – why take a car anymore when this can take off vertically from almost any location? I’m sold. Where do I sign?
I did a little research on the subject (and I do mean little) and found that the G8-2-130 jets use very little fuel (propane) and are ecologically clean (the exhaust is carbon dioxide, nitrogen and steam). I found this photo fromanother site about the Space Ranger. (That woman’s bell bottoms look wide enough to get her airborne without need of a spaceship.)
No more need to scar the land with ugly roads (which are made largely of oil, themselves). All that needs to be done is just pimp it a little bit – install some cup holders, enclose it in a cool frame, add satellite radio, A/C, and some headlights for night flying and we’re in business!
Not only would this drastically cut our dependence on foreign oil, but this would save the automobile industry. Of course, they’d have to rename it. “Space Ranger” sounds sort of corny to today’s consumer. It needs to be something like The Dodge Prion, The Chevy Luxor or The Ford Oracle.
In tests inventor Space Ranger inventor Richard Timewell had started a few bush fires, hit some trees and his brother John had broken a rib. On the plus side, he had taken one ride to 200 feet.
On April 10, 1978, Richard, 32, told the Eugene Register-Guard that he and his wife Josephine had invested $70,000 in the venture. “That’s all out savings and a mortgage on our home,” said Richard. “We’ve got nothing left.” But he had a dream, adding: “I’m convinced that my product will be a viable alternative to the automobile.”
Did it sell? Well, at the time that report went out, one Space Ranger left the shelves. Richard said he had received lots of interest from the Swiss national police, an Iranian construction firm, actor Clint Walker and a funeral home.
Yeah, a funeral home. Why? Well, as Richard said: “This machine doesn’t glide at all if the power’s gone. It just drops like a rock.”