John decided to take a trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his daugher Katie to meet with Ray Li, the inventor of the Jetlev R200 Jetpack. What started out as a father/daughter bonding trip soon turned into a business as they both fell in love with the exhilaration of personal fight that the Jetlev provided.
After some quick negotiations with Ray, they became the West Coast distributor of the Jetlev Jet Pack and set up a flight school in Newport Beach. Chis Herman and Ryan Eastman, owners of West Coast Yachts, became partners in the business, providing the storefront and dock storage for the new Jetlev units and Jetpack America was born (known as Jetlev Southwest at that time).
Here is a Brief History of Jet Packs and Jetpack America...
Bell Aerosystems demonstrates the Rocket Belt for the US Army, which was regarded as the first traditional jet pack.
James Bond's Thunderball is released in theaters, featuring Bond making a daring escape using a jet pack, which captures the attention of the world, including a young future-engineer and inventor by the name of Raymond Li.
After a long hiatus, Ray revisits his jet pack dreams, starting to research and develop a new jet pack, which was different than previous versions, in that it would be propelled by water instead of hydrogen or nitrogen.
Thanks to extensive research and a timely grant from the National Research Council of Canada, a working prototype takes to the air, using a Rotax (SeaDoo) engine in a small boat unit, which pumps water up a 30-foot hose to the backpack style jet pack, controlled via arm movements up and down and body leans left and right.
Many revisions and test flight crashes later, the first commercially-available model is released to the public and John Morris places an order for several units to use in a California rental operation and offer for sale to high-end clients who could afford the $99,500 price.
Jetpack America (then Jetlev Southwest) opens its Newport Beach, California location in August and its Honolulu, Hawaii location in December.
Jetpack America crosses the 1000-flight mark at its flight centers. Competitor Zapata Racing launches its competing product, the Flyboard, which is a foot-mounted device that attaches to a standard jet ski as its power source.
Jetpack America president Dean O'Malley establishes a new world record by flying a jetpack 26.2 miles from Newport Beach to Catalina Island in September.
Jetpack America San Diego opens in April at the Mission Bay Sportcenter and total flight numbers pass 10,000.
Commercial clients open operations in the Cayman Islands, Cabo San Lucas, Florida and Singapore.
Jetpack America sells its share of the Honolulu flight center operation to its partner H2O Sports Hawaii in June. Jetpack America Las Vegas opens at the Spring Mountain Motorsports facility in Pahrump, Nevada at its state-of-the-art 4.5-acre freshwater lake and aquatic center.
Jetpack America begins offering X-Jets Jetpacks and Jetblades for sale.
Jetblade flights and tandem jetpack flights for children begin being offered at all Jetpack America locations.
Newport Beach makes a historic vote, allowing Jetpack America to be the sole commercial jet pack operator in Newport Harbor.
Jetpack America hosts Hydro-Fest at its Las Vegas location, featuring the top jetpack, jetboard and jetbike athletes from around the world in a three-day open format competition, promoting the hydroflight industry to the world.
Following increased restrictions from the City of Newport Beach, Jetpack America was forced to close its Newport Harbor operation, consolidating all Southern California activity at its San Diego location.
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