Eyes on the Sky: Poplar Man Unveils Patent Pending Jetpack Design – Superior Telegram

POPLAR – A local engineer has spent the last two years designing a prototype jetpack.

Daniel Gant strapped his SkyPak V1 to his back on April 8th and stepped out the door of his workshop in the village of Poplar. However, this was a photo op, not a flight.

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

Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The current electrical design includes 30 pounds worth of drone batteries to power the 12 rotor blades. They’re noisy, a problem that could be reduced by swapping out the 20-inch blades for 40-inch blades, Gant said.

The battery pack delivers 112 hp, enough to power a small car. In the air, where every gram counts, that means about two minutes of flight time and a maximum pilot weight of 100 pounds, he said.

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

While the current proof-of-concept design uses hobby-grade parts, the next step will involve more sophisticated, more expensive parts as Gant moves closer to manned flight.

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

Daniel Gant, founder of Ascend Dynamics, LLC, flies a smaller prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, outside of his workshop

Daniel Gant, founder of Ascend Dynamics, LLC, will fly on Friday, April 8th.

Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The SkyPak could be used for many applications, from search and rescue services to flying a worker up to change lightbulbs or perform other maintenance on tall structures. It’s years away from that point, he said, 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 as he walks through the door of his workshop

Ascend Dynamics, LLC founder Daniel Gant smiles as he arrives on Friday, March 8th.

Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

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

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

One of the most difficult moments was when the large-scale prototype flew with a wooden frame and a department store doll named Mitchell, Gant. The test flight took place at the Mission Covenant Church in Poplar.

“It didn’t fly like I imagined. It really seemed to be struggling,” Gant said, almost fighting himself to fly.

Each step forward brings new challenges to think through, a process Gant says he likes.

“I’m really an idea guy, maybe more than an engineer,” Gant said. “That kind of ‘I have this idea. I wonder if I can make it work’ has basically been in my head since I graduated. … And yes, it was a great blessing to work on a dream, if you will.”

His wife, friends and family have been very supportive, from turning a wrench to making a YouTube video about 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 began 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 Duluth. In 2012 he graduated as a mechanical engineer.

Gant worked for Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth for five years before turning to designing a new jetpack. Now he is at a crossroads. If funding can be secured, Gant plans to continue its jetpack research and development full-time. If not, it can become a part-time job.

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

Ascend Dynamics, LLC founder Daniel Gant flies a smaller prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack, outside of his workshop

Ascend Dynamics, LLC founder Daniel Gant will fly on Friday, April 8th.

Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Ascend Dynamics, LLC founder Daniel Gant gazes at the sky while carrying a prototype of his SkyPak, a propeller-driven jetpack

Ascend Dynamics, LLC Founder Daniel Gant looks to the skies as he arrives on Friday, March 8th.

Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

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