AMHERST, NY - On the University at Buffalo north campus sits Bell Hall, an edifice of edification. It's home to the engineering department - and one specific classroom that holds a piece of history not open to the public.
Professor Ann Bisantz is chair of the department of industrial and systems engineering. "Our students go out and work in systems from manufacturing, to health care to service systems," says Bisantz.
They learn solve real-life problems - like how to move patients around a hospital room. But sitting quietly in the corner of their classroom is something else. A piece of history, inspired by comic books, far less real-life and far more science fiction.
"I've had speakers try to try it on. Not pick it up, but stand and have their picture taken with it. So people are interested in the fact that it was a real flying artifact," says Bisantz.
This is one of the original Rocket Belts built by Bell Aerospace in the 50's. They were flown to the delight of crowds at sporting events - like this Bills game in War Memorial Stadium in 1967.
They also appeared in movies. "There's a departmental legend that it was the one flown in one of the James Bond movies," says Bisantz.
But the Bell Rocket Belt lacked the ability to stay airborne for long periods of time, and the company eventually decided it did not need them anymore.
Of the four that remain, three are in museums. Leaving this one, in a classroom at UB, the only one held private. And it's here because the name on its back is the same as the name on the front of the building. "One of our alumni who worked at Bell Aerospace thought it would be a fun gift for the department to have," says Bisantz.