Flying High with Jetpack America

IMG_8973For Christmas my parents bought me an amazing gift of flying at Jetpack America. They have locations in Newport Beach, San Diego, and Las Vegas. I decided that Newport Beach or San Diego would be closest and that I should go to one of those. I waited through the winter for spring when the ocean water would start to warm up a bit. I finally booked my flight at the last minute with only a few weeks left in May before my Groupon expired.

I called Jetpack America’s office and booked my flight. I was told to arrive an hour before my flight for my debriefing and to bring my bathing suit, a wetsuit if I had one, a towel, sunscreen, and anything else I thought I might need after going in the water. They sent me an online waiver and directions to the parking below the building next door.

The day of my flight arrived and I was super excited. I grabbed my bag and checked to see if there was anything else last minute I might need. I headed to Newport Beach, parked, and finally found the place right in the marina. I walked into the shop a little anxious and was warmly welcomed. I showed the guy at the front my Groupon and was quickly guided to their debriefing area that had already started with some other flyers going on a flight sooner than mine.

They finished their debriefing and left for their flight. The girl then showed me and another guy a video and started our tutorial about the controls of the jetpack. We practiced sitting in the jetpack, holding the controls level and tilting to the left and right. The controls are very sensitive and you barely needed to move the controls to turn, only need a millimeter of change in the positioning moves the jetpack in any direction you wish. The controls are not super light though so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hold them up for the entire 15 mins, which would affect my flight for sure.

After our tutorial we headed down to the dock. Unfortantely they don’t allow you to bring your phone, but since I went second I had an opportunity to see how they strap you in, safety features of how to get out, where you fly, and the slight movements you need to make in order to make the turns by watching the guy go. 20 minutes later it was my turn to get strapped in and give it a try.

With my lifejacket,  wetsuit, and 30lb jetpack all on and ready to go I timidly jumped off the dock and into the water. I practiced a few times of righting myself, since when the pack is not in motion it floats and pushes you under the water, and then I was ready to fly. I spun myself around and the jetski crew member there to help me pushed on the throttle for my first chance at getting out of the water.

As he pushed on the throttle I kept my arms level with the water. We started low allowing my legs to drag through the water so that I could get the feel of the controls. It was hard to keep them level and my left arm kept dropping a little which made me turn left. I struggled to make it right and eventually got them level. As time went by my crew member pushed me higher and higher. I got out of control a bit and the crew member cut the power. I fell back into the water with a big splash, righted myself and was ready to give it another try.

By the end of my flight I was getting pretty high, hovering above about 20 ft above the water. It was scary, exciting, crazy and nerve wracking. The higher you go the more sensitive the controls become and the harder it is to keep yourself level. As my time winded down and the traffic in the marina picked up I had to zigzag my way back to the dock through all the boats. It was insane how many obstacles there were in my path, but I made it safely practicing my left and right turns and going straight above the water.

When I reached the dock I sat back in my jetpack and unbuckled the straps. I swam to the dock and another crew member helped me up. I walked up the dock and back to the shop. I dried off, changed into my clothes, got my diploma and said goodbye to the crew.

The crew at Newport Beach’s Jetpack America was absolutely amazing. Everyone was super friendly, helpful, and supportive throughout my entire experience. Flying was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but it’s something that anyone can do as strength does not matter. It’s more finesse. Even kids can try it with the younger ones tandem riding to get there first thrills.

Jetpack flying was definitely a great experience and unlike anything else. I’ll never forget looking down at the water below me as I rose higher and higher. I know with practice and more flying time it will become easier and easier and more and more fun as I take complete control of running the jetpack, both steering and throttle, and begin to learn different tricks, such as the submarine, spinning, and diving.

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