Up, Up and Away
Jet packs and jet boards let you feel like a superhero
You’re 20 feet above the clear blue water. There’s no paddle. There’s no cage. And in some cases, no hands! You’re like a bird over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the closest ever to actually flying—all thanks to a jet pack! It looks like something out of a Jame Bond movie, not a family-friendly activity, that’s popping up all over Florida. But forget the Aston Martin and the shaken martinis. This 007 experience is right in our own backyard.
“It’s really like nothing else,” reports Michael Dopslaff, owner of SkyHigh JetPacks in North Fort Myers. “The feeling is indescribable. Imagine you’re floating in the air on a jet pack. How do you describe that?”
Dopslaff has been helping people go “sky high” for the better part of a decade in Southwest Florida, and says the “initial response was great.” So when it comes to that “fight or flight” response, the proprietor hopes you choose “flight.” SkyHigh JetPacks offers two options: jet packs or jet boards. “Either way, you’re going to feel like a superhero,” he adds.
Jet packs are basically high-powered backpacks that propel you over the water. Riders hold onto handles sticking out of the sides for safety. Then away they go. Dopslaff describes them as a Jet Ski that’s been customized to reroute the water it pumps, which creates propulsion into a hose. And think of the jet board as a snowboard, powered by a gushing current of water that has you literally skating over the seas.
Private one-on-one lessons are either half an hour or an hour. Safety equipment such as helmets, wetsuits, and life vests are provided. Prices are $89 for a half-hour session on the jet board and $139 for one hour. The jet pack is $149 for half an hour and $279 for two people.
Even though the sport can look easy, it does require a little practice and finesse. Dopslaff explains that when he sees a customer's frustration, someone who is overthinking it and trying too hard, he steps in to help. "Sometimes they are thanking me for being patient with them even though this is my job. I'm there to offer them a service and to teach them," he says. “When they finally get up and I see that smile because they stuck with it—and maybe they didn’t believe they would get it—but it finally just clicks.”
In fact, Dopslaff guarantees that if you don’t fly the first time, your second round is free. “The best part of my job is definit ely the experience I’m able to deliver to the customer,” he adds. “Specifically to those who may struggle at first.”
No experience is required. As long as you’re at least 13 years old and weigh more than 100 pounds, you’re good to go. Dopslaff says he’s had customers in their 80s!
SkyHigh also rents wakeboards, kayaks, standup paddleboards and Jet Skis. The company plans to offer sunset and dolphin cruises in the next few months. For more information, visit skyhighjetpacks.com. Nick Ciletti is a freelance writer for TOTI Media who lives in Phoenix. Prior to moving to Arizona, he worked at NBC2 in Fort Myers.
Confidence goes sky high when people get the hang of using a jet pack.
It’s pretty exciting to fly over the water , so SkyHigh also offers photo and video packages to make sure participants have their flights properly documented.