Anyone who has ever hung off the back of an old-school standup PWC knows the power of the thrust exiting a PWC’s jet pump. What once knocked our shorts off (or caused us to sing in a slightly higher octave) is the same blast of water that now propels modern runabouts past the 65 mph mark. Or, in the case of the JetLev, FlyBoard, or Jetovator, what could be used to propel you not just across the water, but up into the air as well. Yup, hang onto your shorts. This trio of high flyers is ready to send you skyward using the same water-jet propulsion that pushes your favorite PWC. The JetLev ($99,500) was first on the scene. It looks like the backpack used in the old TV show Lost In Space, but let’s face it…at that price it’s far from a toy for the masses.
The FlyBoard was next on the scene, and lowered the price substantially, all the way to $6,500. This contraption is kind of like a jet-propelled wakeboard.
The Jetovator? It’s the bicycle or sport bike of the bunch, putting you in a saddle and letting you rocket across the water, or wheelie skyward. Price? About$9,000.
While the JetLev uses an unmanned, PWC-like vehicle to follow it around and provide the boost, the FlyBoard and Jetovator trim a lot of that cost by using what many PWC enthusiasts already own — their Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, or WaveRunner. In each case the rider removes the jet pump assembly and bolts in place a U-shaped tube that redirects thrust into a hose (typically 40′ long) that is linked to the gadget attached to the person in flight. The obvious advantage is that you can ride your PWC for its intended purpose one minute, and then switch it to rocketman mode the next. The switch is relatively simple, and won’t tax anyone’s mechanical skills. Still, these latter two are a two-person job. The actual thrust delivered is controlled by a rider that stays aboard the PWC and controls throttle. FlyBoard offers an optional throttle-by-wire kit that puts all the controls in the hands of the person up in the air. Jetovator indicated it is doing likewise, although the control has not yet hit the market. Still, even with the throttle-by-wire kits, both manufacturers suggest someone stay aboard the PWC…just to be on the safe side. All manufacturers also require a combination safety/instructional course before flying. What do you think, does flying above the water appeal to you? And for boat owners in general, how do you feel about potentially sharing the waterways with this modern squadron of flyboys?