It’s official, commercial jetpacks are here! And while they might not use rockets, or be available for general purchase, they are still a pretty amazing joyride from the looks of it. Basically, the packs use pumped water from a backpack through a hose connected to a small, unmanned boat. Users are then hurled into the air, and with the adjustment of attitude controls, are able to fly around in circles.
So far, there are two models that are showing up in major vacation destinations like San Diego, Key West, Florida, Myrtle Beach, and Cancun, Mexico. There’s the Jetlev, which can lift a person 9 metres in the air, and the Flyboard, which looks like a small snowboard attached to a hose and can propel riders 14 metres in the air. To give you some perspective, that’s about the height of a three and four storey building, respectively.
Promotional videos have been turning up by the hundreds on Youtube, Hulu, Dailymotion, and other video-sharing websites, and the hits are reaching into the millions. Clearly, these jetpacks are the newest thing when it comes to water sports and adventure reaction, but they are raising their fair share of environmental concerns as well.
In Hawaii for example, where the jetpacks are expected to make an appearance very soon, the concerns of fishermen and ocean enthusiasts prompted the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to call a public meeting about the devices last month. The department’s top enforcement officer, Randy Awo, expressed alarm about unsafe maneuvers, such as riders diving into the water next to moving boats.
In addition, fishermen are concerned that the noise will disrupt their livelihood. In this, they are joined by University of Hawaii coral scientist Bob Richmond, who told officials that the noise the devices make could cause fish to avoid areas that are too loud. He’s also worried that fish and coral larvae could get pumped through some of the equipment and die.
But of course, solutions and regulations are being proposed, such as setting aside areas for recreational use that are far removed from fishing waters and coral habitats. The same is likely to be the case in other parts of the world where conservation and fishing are major concerns, but tourist dollars are heavily sought after.
In the meantime though, adventure enthusiasts and futurists can draw some encouragement from this, since it demonstrates that we are clearly living in a time when devices that seem like they are right out of the annals of science fiction are becoming a reality!
And be sure to check out the video of Myrtle Beach jetpack adventures, showing a Jetlev R200 in action: