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Orange County

JetLev in The OC: OMG I Can FLY

I got to fly. I flew over water with a jet pack on my back. Why? Because I’m the luckiest woman in the world.

It’s a really long story, but basically Kristi invited me to spend an afternoon in Newport Beach and try out the new JetLev before JetLev Southwest opens. The guys are all certified but they have to practice teaching people how to use the JetLev packs.

Of course I jumped at the opportunity. A few of my friends said things like, “isn’t that dangerous?” and “What do you mean by practice?” I’d looked at the contraption and it seemed safe…

When we got to Newport Beach the folks at Inside Edition were just finishing up. Apparently flying 30 feet above the water is popular.

Here’s the rundown. You have this pack on you and there are two arms, a seat and two boosters that shoot water down. A five point harness like a race car driver or a military pilot would wear holds the whole thing to you. On the dock I received some instruction about how to move your arms (less is more), how to get out of the water (lift your arms up) and how to use the kill switch (this is important so you don’t drown). I listened carefully, the dry dock instruction is the most important part of the day.

The guys strapped me in and then I did this.

Basically there’s a little remote boat that shoots water into the tube, then the water shoots out of your pack back down to the ocean forcing you up. I had a few instances where I wanted to go a little lower but forgot and shot myself higher, one where I went CRASHING into the water from about 20 feet up and a day later my bottom still hurts (see video).

I’ve always wanted to fly. Who wouldn’t want to? I remember being 22 and discovering rock climbing and mountaineering. I remember jamming my fingers and toes into tiny cracks a hundred feet in the air and thinking I beat nature. That exhilaration that one feels only when they know they’ve cheated death by climbing too high, driving too fast, jumping too far and running too fast, that’s the exhilaration I felt yesterday as I flew over the harbor in Orange County. What’s wonderful is that I was completely safe the whole time. On the shore my trainer Ryan Eastman had a remote control that looked a lot like what you’d use for a RC flyer that could override my controls and keep me safe. He was talking in my ear the entire time letting me know what I was doing right and how to maneuver when I got into tricky spots, which I frequently did.

I flew for about an hour, the first flight they controlled my throttle and after the second I took control of the throttle (hence the 20 foot drop). It was amazing, it was breathtaking, it was what man has dreamed of since the beginning of time. I got to fly, just me and a jet pack on the water.

JetLev isn’t open yet, they’re still practicing and if you’re in the harbor on a weekend you might find these guys messing around. Here’s a video of what it looks like when you do it right.