Up, Up and Away

Jet packs and jet boards let you feel like a su­per­hero

Gulf & Main - - Water World - 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.

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 def­i­nitely 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.

Con­fi­dence goes sky high when peo­ple get the hang of us­ing a jet pack.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.