Today I did what I had been planning on doing for a long time. I took a ride with a Jetlev. In this case: with Ride Leisure at Wyboston, near Bedford. It’s about 30 minutes by car from Cambridge, which is 50mins by train from London. Driving from London would take about 1.5 hours.
My instructor, Malcolm, greeted me upon arrival. As soon as I got myself into one of Ride Leisure’s 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, hopping into the water with the jetpack attached to my body.
I’m a solid swimmer, but it did feel strange jumping into deep water 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 buoyancy aid will keep you afloat.
After a few more instructions I got myself into vertical position and grabbed the handle bars 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 nearly everyone, 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 (12m). Within two or three seconds I messed it up, got leaning backwards and moving towards the jetski that the instructor was riding on. You’re not supposed to get too close to the jetski. Malcolm simply switched off the power and I dropped down like a lead weight. Lesson learned.
I followed my instructor’s advice and took it slow. It made sense to do a few more rounds. Gradually I was gaining confidence and a few skills, until Malcolm finally agreed to put some more juice into the pump. I crashed a few more times without any complaints.
Then the magic happened. I managed to gain proper speed, roughly 40km/h, still well below the top speed of 80km/h. It’s a proper thrill, racing, cutting sharp corners, helicoptering with twists. The pictures were all taken during my first ten minutes out and about. Unfortunately they do not give an accurate impression of the fun I had with the jetlev. 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 flyboarding, open water swimming, 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).