If you've ever wanted to feel like a super hero, don't just tie a cape around your neck, strap a JetLev to your back!
The JetLev at the Tradewinds Island Resort
in St. Pete Beach is a new type of jetpack technology that uses a maximum thrust of 420 lbs. to send you soaring up to 30 feet in the air "flying" above the Gulf of Mexico at a top speed of 25 mph. The 30-pound jetpack worn by the pilot is attached to a small 200 HP boat that gives the pack power. Twin water jets propel the pilot while precise hand positioning levers control the steering.
While flying, the pilot is coached through a headset by a JetLev
expert on a nearby boat. They also control your propulsion, for safety and to make sure you don't take off for Mexico, at least that was the case for me when I took a really wide turn and wound up heading out to sea. The 80-mile/4-hour range would leave you a little short anyway.
Once you've mastered the basic maneuvers, your coach can increase the throttle and it's time for tricks. A pilot can literally walk on water, attempt "the hover," which suspends you helicopter style mid-air, or my favorite, "the submarine" diving down below the surface.
I have to admit, I was a wee bit nervous before take off, but the water sports team was incredibly knowledgeable, supportive and friendly. The loud thumping of my heart was soon replaced by squeals of laughter as I was launched skyward.
You can buy your own JetLev for the retail price of $99,500, which includes a CFI 1 Pilot Certification Training & Safety Course, or you can take a 30-minute flight at Tradewinds for $275 for hotel guests and $310 for non-guests. The St. Pete Beach resort is the only west coast Florida location that offers the up, up and away attraction.
, created by Chinese-born Ray Li when he lived in Canada, is now manufactured in Dania Beach, FL.
Julie Busch Branaman is managing photographer at 83 Degrees Media. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.