The president of Jetlev Southwest, Dean O'Malley, flew (tethered to a floating powerplant and not without stops) over 26.2 miles of open ocean from Newport Beach California to Catalina Saturday, Sept. 29, to promote the company's jetpack product. The promotional stunt aimed to set a record for longest jetpack flight. Jetlev manufactures a jetpack that uses water pressure for thrust. The water is pumped from a floating power unit through a hose to two downward-facing nozzles attached to a backpack worn by the pilot. The system handled the trip in about four hours but its 200-hp four-stroke marine engine emptied the craft's 22-gallon fuel tank twice along the way, with varied results.
The second time the craft ran out of fuel, O'Malley was roughly seven miles from his destination at Catalina. Unfortunately, after the last refueling, congestion at his destination delayed his arrival. O'Malley was within a few yards of the beach and flying at about 15 feet when the jetpack ran out of fuel for the last time, dropping him into waist-deep water. From there, O'Malley collected himself and walked to shore. Jetlev Southwest sells its jetpack for about $100,000. It also offers membership packages that offer up to 40 minutes of flight time per month. AVweb first introduced its audience to the Jetlev product with an early YouTube video produced in 2009. Advances at YouTube have since desynchronized the audio and video portions of that video, found here.