- I'm flying over the surface of the ocean, salt air whipping past my face, my toes leaving a wake as they trail through the water. I raise my arms a fraction of an inch and soar higher, so that I'm now a foot above the water, then two feet. Then three. The future has finally arrived, and I'm greeting it with a bear hug.
- Jetpacks have been the symbol of a promised future even before James Bond blasted off in 1965's Thunderball. Now, Jetlev has made the dream of emulating Agent 007 a reality with their dream-fulfilling jetpacks, which, for reasons both practical and safety related, must be flown over a large body of water. A hose attached to the pack trails behind the would-be spy, sucking up water and spitting it out at the rate of 1,000 gallons per minute to propel you onwards and upwards.
- Before my inaugural flight, a 15-minute on-land orientation prepped me for the basics: turning, changing altitude, and emergency power-kill. I wouldn't have to worry about the throttle: That would be handled by a Jetlev employee supervising from land, at least for the first few lessons.
- Once I'd slid into a wetsuit and donned the 20-pound backpack, I waded in chest deep and awaited instructions through the one-way headset. A few minutes later, I was puttering through the water, getting the feel of the equipment and practicing slalom-like moves. The equipment required subtler movements than I'd expected -- even a slight head tilt resulted in a sharp change in direction -- but one or two near face-flops are all the reinforcement needed to make you a quick learner.
- After ten minutes of practice, the cameras were turned on to capture the rest of my lesson. By now, I was feeling more comfortable, so the land-based instructor increased the throttle, which allowed me to rise out of the water to my knees. The more I rose, the more sensitive the equipment became, due to the decreasing drag of my body in the water.
- When the throttle supervisor realized I wasn't going to fly myself into any of the nearby boats, he responded by increasing the power. Soon only my toes dragged in the brine, and before long I was airborne -- soaring, gliding, and incorporating my newly acquired air-slalom skills. All I needed to complete my spy fantasy were some evil henchmen in pursuit as their mastermind boss stroked a Persian on the deck of a nearby yacht.
- But all good things must come to an end, and soon the headset voice was beckoning me to shore. With a wide grin etched upon my face, I exited the water. I'd checked off another item on my bucket list. But more importantly, I'd experienced the future I'd dreamed of in childhood.
- Now, if we can only get Marty McFly's hoverboard, we can all sleep better at night.
Jenna Rose Robbins is a freelance writer, book editor, and web consultant who specializes in travel and music.
Jetpacking... For Real!
Learn how to jetpack like you're Agent 007, from suiting up to taking flight.