BY ERIN ROSE BELAIR "I was dreaming of the moist, slightly salty air and the breeze pushing the waves to the shore, and then I took a step into the water, but my toes didn’t reach the sand. I was walking on the water, and then ﬂying above the bay in Newport Beach. I looked down. Wait, this isn’t a dream . . . I am actually ﬂying! This is really happening, thanks to the guys at Jetlev. Jetlev, an innovative ﬂight company that utilizes the technology of water propulsion used in jet ski’s, are making dreams a reality: human ﬂight is now possible. Lucky us, they are operating one of their few locations out of our very own Newport Beach. I was a bit skeptical heading out that morning. The marine layer hadn’t quite burned off, and as I was climbing into my wet suit, I wondered: what am I getting myself into this time? I have a genuine desire to try just about anything once, but taking ﬂight with a jetpack? I’m hoping Marty McFly will be there giving helpful hints. Family and friends gathered warm and safe on the sand, sipping coffee, ready to watch the spectacle as we headed over to bayside beach by boat. I started to get a little nervous. I really had no idea what to expect. So, our dashing instructor sat me down and explained all the science behind what I was about to experience. He assured me, ﬁrst and foremost, that the Jetlev is in fact safe. They spent years designing and redesigning the device to ensure you are taken care of during your ﬂight. The pack functions on a simple system of water propulsion. The Jetlev boat (a little pod unit that follows you) sucks up the water, and then delivers it through a thirty-ﬁve foot ﬂexible hose, and then pushes the water out of the nozzles on your jetpack, sending you cruising through the air. In ﬂight, you use a hand throttle and very small upper body movements to control and navigate yourself. I got myself strapped in like the Rocketeer, buckled my helmet and thought, “let’s do this!” So, there I was, wading in the murky waters of the bay trying to move in my new exoskeleton. I had completely forgotten about the cold altogether. Adrenaline pumping through my body I tried to remember what the instructor said on the beach: Water propulsion? Throttle? What did he say? I started to panic. Then suddenly I heard his voice in my helmet like a savior from above. “Hello, Erin can you hear me?” Oh thank god. The entire time you are in ﬂight you are never alone. The instructor on the beach has full communication with you as you follow his partner on a jet ski in front of you. I settled back into my helmet and harness and I felt the pack turn on, rumbling beneath the water. “Okay, Erin here we go,” I heard in my ear. We took a few practice laps around the bay, and I learned how to control myself and stabilize the ﬂight. The instructor from the beach has full control over the throttle, so I had the chance to really learn how to move and groove. We started down low while slowly bringing my body out of the water. The ﬁrst time I came out of the water, time seemed to stand still. I was ﬂying, not high yet, but no doubt I was ﬂying. It was sublime in that way that you are both terriﬁed and ﬂoored by the magniﬁcence at the same time. I was sure they could see my smile from the beach. A few face dives into the water later, and I was trolling around the bay like I was born for this. After twenty minutes I headed in to recharge before taking my next crack at it. I watched from the beach as my ﬂight comrade soared to new heights. “I can do that, I can totally do that,” I thought to myself. My second time out I was given control of the throttle and found myself ﬂying out of the water at around ﬁfteen feet. The highest you can go is 35 feet, but I already felt like I was on top of the world. I think the hardest part was keeping myself stable, and trying not to overcompensate when I veered off course. It took a lot of concentration to control myself at ﬁrst but once I started to feel conﬁdent, the sensation I experienced was like that of ﬂying in dreams. The second time I went out, I was also joined by Jenavieve, my sister and photographer. She climbed onto the back of the jet ski to snap a few choice photos of this ﬁasco. She kept urging me to go higher, go higher, but I was clinging to the throttle for dear life and doing my best not to lose balance. I often have dreams of ﬂying, but I never thought in my life I would have the chance to actually feel that way. The jets are roaring behind you and pushing you through the morning. The wind in my hair and the water passing beneath me was exhilarating. I felt every part of my body with more awareness, all my senses heightened. I couldn’t believe this was possible, and just right down the street from my house. When the time came, I reluctantly steered my way back towards shore to ample applause and Jenavieve in complete hysterics. She thinks it’s funny whenever I have to wear a helmet in our adventures. I unbuckled and took off my hysterical helmet, standing on the beach like a Viking. I was proud of myself. Soaking wet and a bit worse for the wear, I was smiling from ear to ear. I don’t know the last time I had this much fun. Now, it’s your turn to make those dreams come true. Located at 2600 Newport Blvd., Suite 122, Newport Beach, CA 92663 on the Balboa peninsula. Jetlev are open year round and take appointments for two different ﬂight times, 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Your adventure will consist of ample preparation and two twenty-minute ﬂights. If you take a group of four you get discounted rates and tons of laughs. Jetlev-ing truly was the experience of a lifetime. Days before I was asked to be a part of this mission, I had never even heard of it, and now I can’t stop spreading the word. I have told everyone I know to go give this thing a spin. It is the perfect gift for birthdays or an anniversary. Ladies, your man will be thrilled if you give him the gift of ﬂight! So walk, run, ﬂy, or click your way over to the wonderful folks at Jetlev Southwest. Visit jetlevsouthwest.com for all booking and ﬂight information."
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