There is a commercial, I don’t even know what it’s advertising, that has Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno; I think it’s a car commercial. Do you know which one I’m talking about? In this commercial, a jetpack is used as the most bizarre, ultimate bargaining chip, winning out over a private zip line over New York City. Jetpacks, after all, are a thing of the future and would only really be used in the movies or commercials, right? That’s what I thought until I was searching the internet one day for extreme, unique experiences in southern California and low and behold a jetpack adventure popped up with Jetlev Southwest.
Darren and I both booked a flight, but we have the video of his experience so I’ll explain from his perspective and you will not be disappointed. From The Submarine to The Stairway to Heaven, he hovered and flew like Iron Man. He was literally controlling a jetpack strapped to his back.
The slightest arm movement caused him to go up and down. It was so sensitive that just by turning his head, he could turn right or left. I could tell that he was timid at first. He made slow movements and focused on every word from the instructor on the one-way radio. Finally, he checked his reserve at the door, and let loose. He wanted to see what this machine could do. I watched in amazement as he seemed to master the controls. There is something about calculated movements that Darren simply grasps and masters; he is a planner.
“Are you ready for The Stairway to Heaven, Darren?” The employee controlling the throttle explained that if Darren moved his legs as if he was walking while he was being lifted out of the water, it would look like he was climbing stairs. You would think that moving your legs like you are running would be a simple task, but combine that with controlling your height and direction as well as fearing the inevitable crash, and moving your legs becomes a difficult concept. As he was lifted out of the water, he looked more like he was walking on a treadmill than climbing stairs; none-the-less, it was neat to witness.
The next move paralyzed me with fear, yet Darren wanted to experience it over and over again. As he was skimming along the water at a good speed, he pulled his arms down toward his hips, held his breath, and dove under the water; this is called The Submarine. I counted to four as I waited for my husband, the father of my newborn, to shoot out from under the water with a jet strapped to his back. Although my heart was racing and my thoughts were all over the place, the smile on his face said it all! He was having the best experience of his life.
“Yeah! Woohoo! Let’s do that again,” he screamed like a kid who just got off of the Ferris Wheel for the first time. Again and again, I watched him take sharp turns, shoot up in the air, and dive under the water. His experience was just about perfect when he did the one thing we were told not to do. If you hover over the water and lean too far back, the guy controlling the throttle will cut the jet engine to prevent you from flipping over. The pack is carbon fiber and it floats plus you are equip with a life vest so even if you are dropped into the water, which I was several times, some because of hovering improperly and some because of nervousness and pulling the kill switch myself, you’ll float to the top quickly. I guess Darren wanted to have the full experience, including the hover jet engine cut.
On his last run, the thrust was increased to give Darren lift and he started to hover. The employee was telling Darren to put his arms “down”, “down”, “down” but Darren wasn’t focused. Just when the engine was cut to avoid flipping, Darren put his arms down to get forward momentum. These two acts combined caused him to be thrust into a belly flop position before falling from about ten feet in the air.
I jumped up from my seat and made my way to the back of the pontoon boat. The worst drop yet! Oh my God! Is he ok? Is he ok?
Darren slowly emerged from the water and gave a “thumbs up” to show that he was ok. He still had roughly 7 minutes left but decided to call it a day.
Smiling as he was guided ashore, I knew that he was fine although maybe a little shaken.
The insane drop didn’t deter him or diminish his experience. We were both bubbling with adrenaline as we shared our favorite parts of the jetpack flight. Darren loved The Submarine but I favored making sharp turns while my legs dangled below. It was the most unique adventure possible and we were able to share it together.
Who actually gets to fly a jetpack, especially during the same week as piloting a bi-plane and a glider and taking a surf lessons? Southern California is home to limitless possibilities and in two short years, we took advantage of as many opportunities as possible. As we drive to our new home in Charlotte, North Caroline, I’m dreaming of what adventures await. Life, after all, is worth living!
You can see Darren’s video at Darren’s Jetpack Flight!