For those of us old enough to remember The Jetsons cartoon television series, personal jetpacks were supposed to be the wave of the future; in fact, we baby boomers were promised we’d all be jet-packing to our daily commute by the 21st century! Alas, that never came to pass. However, now there are water-powered jetpacks! And they are available on Aruba.
The vehicles are called JetLev®, a patented technology that allows you to soar above the waves propelled by water- 800-1,000 gallons a minute- which can give an experienced pilot up to a 30 ft. vertical boost. The motor that powers the hose is attached to small boat-like craft. Experienced pilots can control the set-up on their own, but the less experienced wear a helmet that receives one-way communication from the instructor via wireless, and the instructor can also control the power, speed, and fail-safe quit option by remote as well. The rider also has a quit option attached to their wrist. Since the advent of JetLev® other like-powered contraptions have joined it- Hoverboard –a skateboard that flies over the waves, and JetBlade, a small board with boots attached that also allows the rider to fly. All three can look a little intimidating to those who aren’t already extreme sports athletes, so we set out to see just how easy it is to learn them.
As with any new extreme activity, expert instruction with an eye to safety is always recommended. Being shot into the air at high speed over the waves certainly qualifies in that arena. Fortunately, Red Sail Sports Aruba-the only operator to offer all three activities- are also the ONLY outfit with licensed certified instructors on the island. Unfortunately, at the time they had not yet certified someone for the JetBlade (they have since) so I let my adult daughter Jessica and her boyfriend Wes act as my guinea pigs for the other two so I could observe both at the same time.
Jessica went for the JetLev, while Wes opted for the Hoverboard as he already had some skateboarding skills. Though that’s not a prerequisite, it does help a beginner get the balance of it faster. I tried to shadow both instructors Osmar Vrolijk and Jayron van der Linden as they briefed the beginners, but it was difficult because the Hoverboard is attached to a jetski which the instructor drives and he must operate away from the traffic around the dock, and the jetpack instruction begins on the beach. But I did get the gist of what it takes for both, especially from spending time listening to Jayron as he led Jess through the motions from his headset once she was in the water.
Overall, the most important take-away seemed very simple: listen CAREFULLY to your instructor. Their knowledge and patience will get you into the air faster and safely. And it’s all about quiet control. The biggest set-back to learning to master these vehicles seems to stem from becoming over-excited once you start levitating. Tiny movements make big impacts aboard the JetLev, so steady, calm control is required to operate it efficiently, while focus and steady balance seems to be what it takes to soar on the hover board. And, of course, practice makes perfect, so be prepared to suffer a few spills and even face-flops into the water before you get the hang of it. But it really didn’t take very long for both newbies to get some serious air, and once finished, they were elated and very eager to do it again soon. I managed to capture some of their success on video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMZnjVlA9Qc.
But if you want to see how much fun it can be when you really master these cool futuristic modes of transportation, check out instructors Osmar and Jayron showing us all how it’s done: https://www.facebook.com/RedSailSportsAruba, and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bCBzM7sO_8&feature=youtu.be.
Visit www.redsailaruba.com for more information and reservations.