Murder investigation related to "Rocketbelt Caper" reopened: book describes bizarre and brutal killing

February 02, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Entertainment News
When three friends from Houston, Texas, set out on an ambitious quest to build a Buck Rogers-style rocketbelt - a rocket-powered flying backpack - their obsession with the amazing machine shattered their friendship and set in motion an astonishing chain of events involving deception, assault, a bizarre kidnapping, a ten million dollar lawsuit, and a horrifically brutal murder.

The rocketbelt was a science fiction gadget that became reality, being developed and tested by Bell Aerospace for the US Army in the early sixties. Eventually deemed impractical for military use, the device became a lucrative entertainment attraction, appearing in the James Bond movie Thunderball, and at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

In the mid-nineties, friends Brad Barker, Larry Stanley, and Joe Wright succeeded in building and flying the amazing Rocketbelt 2000. But, after the rocketbelt disappeared, Wright, aged 37, was found bludgeoned to death at his Houston home. Both Barker and Stanley were among those suspected by Wright’s friends and family, but the murder remained unsolved. Now, after continued pressure from Wright’s family, the Harris County Sheriff’s Department has reopened the case, one of the most bizarre in Texas history.

The Rocketbelt Caper: A True Tale of Invention, Obsession and Murder by Paul Brown (Lulu Press) reveals the incredible true story of the Rocketbelt 2000 caper, and presents the complete history of the amazing rocketbelt. It also features an instructive Building a Rocketbelt essay, plus photographs.

The acclaimed book, labelled “In Cold Blood with jetpacks”, has featured in New Scientist and BBC Focus magazines, and is recommended by the James Bond society and the Airwalker Society of Rocketbelt Enthusiasts. It is currently the subject of movie option discussions.

Additional information:

The Rocketbelt Caper: A True Tale of Invention, Obsession and Murder by Paul Brown is published in paperback by Lulu Press and is available from Amazon and all good bookstores, SRP US$17.95 / UK£9.95, ISBN 1411629841.

Paul Brown is a freelance journalist and author based in the United Kingdom. He is available for interview via telephone and email.

For review copies and images for publication visit