24/4-2005, updated 9/10-2011 by MS & PS
Being pursued by Boitier's men, Bond uses the rocketbelt to escape over the walls to the safety of his Aston Martin DB5 outside.
The rocketbelt was considered one of the best Q gadgets ever made. I must agree it was spectacular achievement of the engineering mind in 60's - however reality was more complicated.
The rocketbelt was a result of the Army Transportation Command contract assigned to Bell in 1960. The unit was created and developed by Wendell Moore - a rocket specialist. Trials flight started in 1960 - first free flight without safety lines took place 20. April 1961 and was succesful. It flew - shortly, noisy and not very stable, but it flew.
Between 1961 and 1964 a lot of presentation flights were done - this device had a greater public success than a military one. The Army never flew this device and never ordered it. The basic military goal of the project were not achieved, and finally the project was cancelled in 1969 due to the death of Moore, and cut of the funds.
The rocketbelt history didn't end in 1969 - it was used few times later for big shows like the 1984 Olympics. This rocketbelt was not a Bell rocketbelt, but a private rocketbelt build by Nelson Tyler in 1970.
In 1995 the idea revived in a new separate project but didn't survived long. This rocketbelt, the RB2000, made succesfull free and public flights. But suffered the same faith as the Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5 - it was stolen, and like the DB5 - it too is still missing.
Sean Connery was dubbed in the flying scenes by two "rocket men" pilots - William Bill Suitor and Gordon Yeager. To film the scene 6 flights were performed and differently shot to give sensation of long flight. The flights are credited Bill Suitor, but in fact the 6 flights was equally shared between the pilots. High pitchy thruster noise was dubbed by the sound of an extinguisher.
Two of the original Bell Labs Rocket Belts are in New York. One is exhibited at the Science Museum of Buffalo, another at the Engineering Department of the University of Buffalo. A third in Dulles museum and a fourth in the Army transport Museum in Virginia.
Thank you to Peter Gijsberts from www.rocketbelt.nl for correcting our mistakes and filling in the blanks. All you ever vant to know about rocketbelts can be found at his website.
The facinating story of the RB2000 can be found in the book 'The Rocketbelt Caper' by Paul Brown, and the 'Thunderball' rocketbelt has of course a chapter in the book.
'The Rocketbelt Caper' by Paul Brown, now available at Amazon.co.uk.
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