It seems that there has been a recent surge in small, personal aircraft. Whether it be hover bikes, man-carrying drones, wing-suits, or even water-spewing hydro-jet backpacks, these machines are intended to get you airborne with a minimum of encumbrances. It's the closest you can get to flapping your arms and taking off.
My examples represent some very recent advancements in technology. Yet, the concept of personal, even wearable, aircraft stretches back many decades. I don't mean that starry-eyed visionaries were merely dreaming of these types of devices. They were actually building them and making them fly!
Here are some examples of those personal flying machines from yesteryear.
Pentecost HX-1 Hoppi-Copter
During WWII, Horace Pentecost worked as an aeronautical engineer in Seattle. Helicopters were still in their infancy at this time. Pentecost spent his days at Boeing helping to overcome the substantial design challenges that rotary-wing flight presented. His off time was spent in much the same way, just on a smaller scale.
Pentecost's after-hours goal was to develop a compact, wearable helicopter. His HX-1 Hoppi-Copter used a small, 20-horsepower gasoline engine. This engine powered a pair of 12'-diameter (3.7m) contra-rotating blades to provide lift. The 88-pound (40kg) contraption was fitted to a small tubular frame that was worn like a backpack. A single control stick dangled in front of the pilot. If you can picture Inspector Gadget's Gadget 'Copter, you're pretty close to the Hoppi-Copter.