It’s 007 in 2012. And it will blow your mind.
JetLev Southwest, opened only since July last year, will strap their $100,000 water-propelled jetpack on you, so you can blast yourself out of the Pacific. Come on, you know you want to do it. Only about 300 people have ever taken a JetLev Southwest flight before and very few packs exist in the world right now. Lucky for you, the only West Coast jet-levitating location happens to be ocean-close in Newport Beach.
So is it as easy as pushing a button and you’re up and off like Bond before the bomb goes off? Well, you won’t look quite that debonair on your first flight out of the water, but you’ll get it after a few messy face-plants. Rest assured, anyone can do it. It’s not as much skill and strength as it is listening and following what the pros tell you.
You have to remember this whole jetpack real-life stuff is still quite new. The concept was developed in 2001, and the first manned flight didn’t happen until 2005. Over the past few years, development has continued to create a pack suitable for commercial use. Last March, after hundreds of test flights and countless revisions, the Jetlev R200 model was released with the vision of CEO John Morris, entrepreneur and experienced pilot in both rotary and fixed-wing operations.
So what exactly happens your day of flight? You arrive at their offices, get the flight do’s and don’ts, sign the Liability Waiver (no injuries, just bruised egos they say), then you wetsuit-up at the beach and get on your helmet and walkie-talkie headset. Next, you walk your way into the water from the beach.
You get two turns to be like Bond. On your first turn, JetLev remote-controls your flight (they don’t want any hotshot rookies crashing their $100K pack); they help give you a feel of timing and the precise control needed to successfully “pilot your flight.” After you prove yourself jetpack-worthy, they give you throttle-control to steer and blast yourself out of the water. You’ll know if you were listening to instructions properly if you’re up in the air flying high over open water or eating saltwater below. Either way, the control team will be in constant communication with you via the headset you have on, and the team there is great—friendly, funny and genuinely pulling for you.
Newbies who catch on quickly can soar high at will, but anyone who gets too cocky with the controls gets dropped instantly via remote. It’s good times to watch.
It’s awesome, fun, fairly easy, and certainly unforgettable. Friends are welcome to hang out on the sand and see it all go down (uh, hopefully up). So what’s it cost for such a secret-agent thrill? A half-day JetLev Experience can be booked for $199 a person. So it’s not really just a rich man’s toy. High-def video packages are also available with your flight, in case no one believes you really did it.
And if you’re jetpack-hooked, you can join their Frequent Flyer Program. Advice: get in while the getting is good. As jetpack news spreads, JetLev Southwest is sure to be slammed this summer.
It’s truly the gift for the man – or woman – who has everything.
Story and photos by Debbie Lavdas, a Southern California freelance writer whose husband (shown here) jetpacked with JetLev. Rocket Man Ray is his new 007 name. Keep up with Debbie and her writings at DebbieintheOC.com.