Flying High With Performance Air Intake Systems


Sometimes ingenuity comes from the most unlikely of sources. What was designed for the soul purpose of this could greatly alter the performance of that. In the experience below, our resident daredevil Johnny Neptune straps an AEM Brute Force Intake to his jet pack.

Like my old man before me—and his before him—I’m a daredevil. I can’t explain it exactly, but it’s in my blood, something I can’t control. Even after sustaining serious injury and dealing with all the pain and suffering that go along with that, I always find myself heading back to the stunt life—it’s all I know.

As a kid I traveled the southwest visiting mostly blue-collar, high-desert towns, putting on daredevil stunt shows with my dad and pappy. They were known as the Notorious Jumping Neptunes of Catron County. Our show boasted a rabid fan base throughout the New Mexico area, where we’d never fail to dazzle ‘em with our aerial antics.

My dad did most of the actual stunt work; my pappy built the bikes, props and ramps and I became the de facto mechanic of the crew. I’d spend my afternoons in the back-lot of a hot, dusty state fairground, wrenching on our equipment. I learned fast, and it was imperative to my dad’s safety that the work I did was high-quality.

Our shtick was the flying motorcycle. We’d strap hang gliders, rockets, wings, parachutes—anything that flew—to the back of my dad’s motorbike. He speed off toward a big wooden ramp and just launch himself into the stratosphere. At that point he’d be air born and whatever winged contraption we strapped to the bike would take over from there.

A few years ago I lost the old man. It was a basic stunt, one we’d done a hundred times. Dad launched from the ramp a little cock-eyed and came crashing down to the horror of the crowd. Something went wrong with the ramp, I’m sure it was because we hadn’t kept up on ramp maintenance since losing Pappy.

We lost Pappy 2 years prior when he got pinned under a ramp we were taking down after a show. The old coot was 78, smoked 47 cigarettes—no more, no less—everyday, drank scotch like a fish and ate bacon and potatoes exclusively. We were sad to lose him, but the old man led a damn productive life.

The first and second generations have now passed the torch to me—it’s my turn. I plan to reclaim the soaring glory that was the Notorious Jumping Neptunes of Catron County. I acquired a jet pack and a parachute from my friend at the army surplus who saves such items exclusively for me. For the stunt, I plan to don both pack and chute, hurtle myself straight up, ditch the pack and parachute safely to the ground.

The jet pack needed some work though. I was surely happy for all those years I spent wrenching on my dad’s contraptions, because the jet pack was tricky. You see, the pack was missing an irreplaceable air intake system. In a moment of clarity, I pulled the AEM Brute Force Intake from the guts of my ’05 Silverado. With a bit of creative fabrication I was able to install the intake on the jet pack.

Wouldn’t you know it; the darn thing runs better’n ever. I guess by letting all that fresh air into the jets, just like the engine on my truck, the thing screams. And, just like on my truck, the AEM Brute Force Intake improved fuel mileage. Now, I’ll be able to get 3 or 400 extra vertical feet before I deploy my chute.

I’ve tested and retested and I’m ready for the stunt to go off. I have some air time reserved at Brown’s Field near the Mexico/USA border south of San Diego. If you’re out in those parts sometime in mid-August, keep your eyes peeled for the last breed of the Notorious Jumping Neptunes of Catron County!

Of course, the AEM Brute force intake, and other performance air intake systems for that matter are designed to optimize the performance of your vehicle, not a surplus jet pack. Expect the same power and fuel gains that I got for the pack though, only a slightly less thrilling driving experience. – Steven Duvall

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