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WWW.ROCKETBELT.NL / August 6, 2016 All pictures on this website are due to copyright or private, or published with permission

Nelson Tyler

The first person who ever build a flying rocketbelt besides the Bell types was Nelson Tyler.

Although it was for over 40 years he build his device and always pressed for time as a business man and inventor in vibration-free (aerial) camera mountings he was involved in rocket- and jetbelt design and engineering. Besides his own rocketbelt he also was involved in Nino Amarena's Thunderpack rocketbelt (with Bill Suitor) and later on with David Mayman's rocketbelt (build by Juan Lozano) and the 2015 Jetpack with AMT jetengines flown by David Mayman.He also did some sidework with pulse tubes used for personal flight (not really usefull due to enormous heat and sound)

His rocketbelt belt did over 900 demonstrations, the most notable one you all do remember was flying the opening of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angels (with Bill Suitor as pilot)

Tyler began in the late ’60 to photograph the Bell rocketbelt and made notes. He red a lot, specially books on H2O2 propelled torpedos, H2O2 books in general and books on astronautical engineering, for the fuel system, supersonic nozzles and valve. He tried several types of valves, by some named as “the secret” of the rocketbelt , but the definite valve easily bought by the same company as did sell them to the original Bell rocketbelts for $ 3000 (back in the late 60’s a gigantic investment).The peroxide (by then only electrolytical peroxide was used for RB flights) was bought by FMC Corporation in the USA . One flight then costs about $ 300 for peroxide (90 % pure). He did all the engineering and manufacturing by himself, and even the tether for flight practice was build by him self.

Tyler did some 70 flights on tethered training, helped by 3 man . He made about 120 commercial flights; one of them was for a Canadian whiskey company. By that time Bill Suitor was contracted by Tyler to do the flying. He did fly the belt for example during the first Pro Bowl, first Super Bowl, TV shows and off course the 1984 Olympics. The opening sequence I watched, but the flying of Bill I missed, my father yelling at me to come quick and see the flying man. The story on Internet goes that Tyler sold his belt to an attraction park in Denmark , Tivoli Gardens . Wrong !  I extensively mailed them, but what did the people at Tivoli Gardens remember all of this NOTHING !! I had a complex e-mail conversation with the very willing and kind people of Tivoli Gardens , (thank you Lene Brock Jeppesen ) and it went out that:

  • No one in Tivoli Gardens ever heard about The Rocketman and/or the rocketbelt. They do had and have acrobatic performances, but no stunt drivers
  • they kindly checked their archives, they looked though all the annual reports from the 80’s and did not find any information about a rocketman .So I did some investigation, and found the right story

It was Gröna Lund attraction park in Sweden who bought the belt from Tyler. Nelson Tyler said to me by telephone that he sold it for big $$. Before that, he trained a young stuntman named Howard “ Kinni ” Gibson for flying his belt (see pic below) When he sold the belt a motorcycle stunt driver was sent by Gröna Lund attraction park . His name was Johan Thoren. He had to be trained as rocketbelt pilot to. Tyler had a big tower with a tether construction to practice, but the Swedish stuntman couldn’t get grip on the belt. He went up and down, sideways and up again, but never got it under control. By then Gronalund attractionpark didn’t what to do that. Kinni Gibson was called back to the US to act as a stunt double, so they didn’t had a pilot to fly their machine. Some kind of arrangement was settled, and Gibson licensed the belt for his own. Special thanks and photo-credits to Mr. Andreas Theve, Gröna Lund historian, and Mr. Owe Hahn.Rocketbelt.nl was the first on Internet to straighten this enigma out for you all !

Gibson with Tyler belt

By the time Gibson got hold of the belt, there was almost no change to get the 90% electrolytic peroxide. FMC didn’t sell it anymore, and it was to expensive to custom made it. Gibson by then bought his peroxide and the equipment to handle and refine it in Germany . One of the first test flies with the new peroxide went wrong because of the instability or additives of the peroxide. Gibson felt and broke his knee. With the help of Tyler, who wrote some letters he sewed the peroxide company in Germany , and got big $$ from the peroxide company.Tyler also repaired the belt for Gibson.