Today I did what I was planning on doing for a long time. I took a ride with a Jetlev. In this case: with Ride Leisure at Wyboston, near Bedford (and about 30mins by car from Cambridge, which is 50mins by train from London).
My instructor, Malcolm, greeted me upon arrival and as soon as I got myself into one of their wetsuits, we walked the few metres over to the lake. The safety briefing and training took the best of fifteen minutes, and off I went, jumping into the water with the jetpack attached to my body.
I’m a solid swimmer, but it did feel strange jumping into deep water (your feet can’t touch the ground) with heavy gear attached to your back. However, Malcolm’s calm, reassuring manner and the training made me feel somewhat ok with this idea. You take a big forward leap, downward-facing, then turn yourself onto your back, and the swim-vest will keep you afloat.
After a few more instructions, while I was already floating in the water, I got myself into vertical position and grabbed the steering levers of the jetpack.
From the first moment this felt like a whole ton of fun. The water pump is incredibly powerful. You feel like there’s no limit and like you can do any move with this jetpack on your back!
It was surprisingly easy to get the hang of it, too. That is: on a very basic level. It took no more than five minutes in the water, and I (like most test persons) was able to move forward relatively steadily with most of my body out of the water and just my knees and below still dipping in.
I became overconfident and tried to do a vertical helicopter rise (with a bit of left-right shaking for effect) to maximum length (10m+), but immediately messed it up, got leaning backwards and moving towards the jetski that the instructor was riding on, and swooooosh, he switched off the power and I dropped down like a lead weight. Lesson learned.
I followed Malcolm’s advice and took it slow, doing a few more rounds, gradually gaining confidence and a few skills, until he finally agreed to put some more juice into the water jet engines. I crashed a few more times, without any complaints.
Then the magic happened: I finally managed to gain proper speed (roughly 30km/h, well below the top speed of 80km/h) with this thing and thoroughly enjoyed myself, cutting sharp corners, helicoptering with twists. The pictures were all taken during my first ten minutes out and about, so unfortunately do not give an accurate impression of the fun I had with this jetpack thingy. An awesome experience, and one which I’ll definitely repeat some time soon!! (That is, if Ms B let’s me indulge. GBP 149 is a fair bit of money.)
Looking for more adventure? Check out our posts about skydiving, jetskiing, exploring London in a helicopter, going across the Thames in a very fast rubber boat, and our trips to the Sahara and the North Pole (well, Spitsbergen is roughly 1,000km away from the pole, but still very close).