In 1956, Antonio Pirrello had an idea. Unsatisfied with the yawn-inducing snoozefest of simply rolling around with four wheels strapped to his feet, he invented a prototype for something a little more stimulating – jetpack skates.
Worn like a backpack, the 19-pound gas motor connects to the right skate, while the left is used to steer. To regulate speeds up to 40 MPH, a hand-held clutch is connected to the backpack by a second cable. Despite being featured on TV shows and in magazines, including Popular Mechanics, Pirrello’s death-defying skates understandably, but disappointingly, never became available on the public market.
Pirrello’s jetpack skates are just a sample of what the National Museum of Roller Skating has to offer. Preserving the history through display and education, the recreation, sport and business aspects of roller skating are demonstrated through exhibits demonstrating all genres, from hockey to derby to inline. Pop culture at its finest, the photos of Scott Baio on skates and clippings from news stories about roller skate-related murders are reason enough to make it your business to stop in for a visit.