What may have once been a fictional scene from a James Bond movie is now a possibility with the JetLev R200, an invention by Canadian Raymond Li, who made the first sketch of his vision a decade ago.
After extensive research and test flights by a crew of engineers, the JetLev R200, a 200-horsepower marine engine that pumps water through a 33-foot hose connected to a jetpack, was commercially launched in early 2012 at $100,000, becoming one of the latest novelties in Florida recreational water sports and making the bucket list of many locals and tourists.
“The JetLev is definitely trending in Florida,” said Raphie Aronowitz, marketing vice president for JetLev Technologies, the Dania Beach-based manufacturer of the JetLev. “We have a higher concentration of JetLev rental centers in Florida than anywhere else in the world.”
ZainoJet, which began operating in February 2012 and offers JetLev flights over the water starting at $200 in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, is one of five South Florida JetLev rental outlets. Others are located around the state and as far as away as Mexico and Hawaii.
“We have flown over 700 people in the last 10 months on the two machines we have,” said Michael Centeno, 43, owner of ZainoJet. “We have started to notice that we are getting more repeat customers who want to get better at flying, do more tricks and get their own throttle, which they don’t get to do on the first visit.”
The JetLev R200 comes with a JetLev remote that enables instructors to control the throttle for safety purposes on first-time flyers like Yair Nezaria, 42, who flew from New Jersey with his wife, Danna Nezaria, 42, for a one-week vacation in Florida.
“I have always wanted to fly, and I think this is as close as it gets,” Yair Nezaria said. “It was definitely one of the things we wanted to try out when we came down here because there aren’t too many places where you can do it.”
His wife decided not to fly, but she said in their next visit, she might build up the courage.
“I chickened out,” she said. “It looks like a lot of fun, but I just have to warm up to it and maybe next time it will happen.”
ZainoJet flies participants 16 years or older. All participants must sign a waiver of liability, with parents asked to sign for people under 18.
Safety measures include the usage of a radio helmet that allows the instructor to transmit instructions to the flyers to train them to maneuver and relax.
But Jeffrey Engler, from Connecticut, was one of few that didn’t need much training.
After seeing a Facebook post about the JetLev, Engler knew he had to try it.
He made his reservations six weeks in advance to guarantee he would be able to fly with five other friends coming from Denver and Baltimore.
“I picked up how to do it very quickly,” said Engler, who has been skydiving and jet skiing among other sports.
“It is different than skydiving because there, you lose control, but with the JetLev you have to learn how to get off the ground, control yourself, and it’s something I have never experienced before,” he said. “We all can’t wait to do it again.”