Some long-time readers of this blog may recall that I won a contest last July at Lesley’s Bucketlist Publications. My prize was a 25-minute jetpack flight in Newport Beach, California with the wonderful folks at Jetpack America. Last week I was able to cash in my prize, throw caution to the wind and take flight in the channel of Newport Bay.
What was it like?
Are you kidding me? It was AWESOME!
I was accompanied to the event by family members: The Lioness, her sister and husband (next-of-kin in legal parlance) watched the events from the comfort of a boat while I grappled with the concept we know as Gravity.
My training session in the office consisted of watching an instructional video and then getting into a training pack to practice flight techniques and answer a few questions on what I had absorbed thus far (Pop-Quiz!). The Number One Thing to remember for first-time pilots: [Moving] Forward is Your Friend—Do Not Hover.
All beginners have live communication via walkie-talkie helmets with an instructor who controls the throttle via a remote-control device. This allows the novice to concentrate on the challenge of navigating a three-dimensional world above/below the surface of the water.
I adjusted my life vest, strapped into the jetpack and jumped into the water to demonstrate my skill of righting myself from various positions, a necessary step as the jetpack is quite buoyant and tends to push you into a face-down posture in the water.
Once my instructor, James, was satisfied with my performance we began the tango of flight: James on the throttle and me on the jetpack frame.
Up, Up and Away
We made low-level passes, donuts and forward flight just above the surface of the water until I got the hang of the jetpack. It was quite a thrill to fly through the air without something solid/familiar nearby. In a way it felt like reverse-water skiing, I was “pushed” instead of “pulled” across the water.
Only slight movements on the controls were needed to change directions. Pushing up with one hand or the other controlled the direction of left and right travel, while movements up and down controlled vertical flight.
I purchased the premium HD video package and after 10 or 15 minutes of practice the crew turned on the 3 GoPro video cameras and recorded the rest of my experience in the video inserted below. Thanks for watching.