S. Fla. Company Offers New Spin On Human Flight Experience
FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4)- Thrillseekers can fly like “James Bond” with a new watersport providing levitation-like flight, and it’s all because of a company located in South Florida.
Participants strap on the Jet Levitation, Jetlev R200, flight pack that looks like the one actor Sean Connery wore in “Thunderball.” But a 30-foot hose tethers the apparatus to a tiny boat with a pump that uses seawater as propellant.
Flight controls allow individuals to take off, make soft turns, hover and land.
The company that produces the pack, Jetlev Technologies , is located in Dania Beach but it’s dealer, South East LLC, operates out of Fort Lauderdale.
Raymond Li, a Chinese Canadian from St. John’s, Newfoundland, developed the Jetlev concept in 2000 and Jetlev Sports Inc. was established in Florida in September 2007.
General sales manager Jay Oosterhouse of Jetlev South East LLC said the jet pack offers an experience like no other.
“We like to give people a good experience,” he said. “You can go 30 feet high.”
But if you’re looking for a tamer height you can tell the instructor that you would like to go lower.
“You can try it and once you get the hang of it then they turn it over to you,” Oosterhouse said.
Those looking to experience the sky high adventure can do so in Key West. Jetpack Adventures is based in Key West, and a similar experience set to be offered by Sundance Watersports beginning next month at Hawks Cay Resort near Marathon.
The Florida Keys is the first region in the U.S. to offer the experience to travelers, manager Erik Adams said.
“It’s like riding a bike,” instructor Nick Ruby said. “Once you learn it its easy after that,”
Ruby is an instructor at Jet pack Adventures in Key West, and it’s the only place in the world to ride one.
But Oosterhouse said they’re hoping to expand their product availability to other areas across South Florida.
“We’re 90 percent sure that there will be a facility in Miami that will offer the jet pack adventure,” he said. “A location in Orlando is expected to open one.”
At the Key West location, participants take a boat out to the water and use the equipment, but at the Hawks Cay Resort you can use the jet pack from the shore, Oosterhouse said.
During training, students receive a safety briefing, are fitted with a helmet and personal flotation device and are harnessed to the jet pack.
Once on the water, students first experience three-dimensional flying with a certified instructor operating the vehicle via remote control. As the participant becomes more proficient, flight control is gained.
“The boat unit is in the water and sucks up water and then it comes out of the pack,” Oosterhouse said.
Oosterhouse said the jet pack is safe to use.
“We can remotely shut it down so if you get it too close to a boat or object we can shut it down,” Oosterhouse said.
Oosterhouse said the reception from the Key West location is a positive one.
“We had eight flights Monday, but are capable of doing 20 a day,” he said.
And on average they’re pretty close to meeting their quote.
“It’s been my dream, since I was a kid, to fly,” said Angie McGregor of Mount Dora, Fla. “I feel like a spy woman out of a ‘James Bond’ film.”
Dave Tuxbury of Traverse City, Mich., is an instructor at the attraction.
“You always dream of flying and what it would be like to be that bird up there,” Tuxbury said. “By golly, I experienced it.”
Want one for your own? The Jet Lev will cost you $99,500 to take home.
But if you’re looking for a short term adventure, cost for the 1 1/2-hour experience is $249 and includes a half-hour of flight time.
You must be 18 years or over. If you are over 18 and younger than 22, you must have a valid boating license. The oldest Jetlev pilot to-date was 67. If you are 82, healthy and in good physical condition, there is no reason why you could not fly, the company said.
For more information, visit jetpackadventures.com