Lydia C. Lee is still trying to work out what to do with her one wild and precious life. She currently is a haphazard blogger. Read more at holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au or www.pandoraandmax.blogspot.com
Published December 28th 2012
It's the only way to fly
I drove out early to the picturesque Sydney International Regatta Centre last Saturday morning. The birds were chirping and there was a serenity only broken by the occasional cyclist or rower. I was beside myself with excitement and anticipation, as I was finally doing something I'd wanted to do since I was a child and stumbled across a book written in the 1960's describing life in the future. I was going jetpacking with Sydney Jetpacking Adcentures.
I'll be honest with you, that photo is of the young natural, a thrill seeker who came after me. On his first session soared two storeys in the air, taking to the jet pack like a duck to water, or more aptly, like a bird takes flight.
I, on the other hand, am a slightly fearful old lady, lacking coordination, with a sense of adventure that is somewhat reserved. However, I too, loved jetpacking! That is the beauty of this experience. It is well managed and controlled so it is set to suit all levels and personalities.
I was really nervous when we went through the safety talk, and how to fly lesson. The equipment is all state of the art and safety is the chief concern, but a 72 year old recently did it for his birthday and had a ball. So age is no limit.
You kit up in the wetsuit, gloves, boots and helmet, all supplied, then put on the jetpack and walk into the water. They have an instructor talking to you through the helmet the whole time, which I found helpful when I forgot instructions, and slightly comforting if I went higher than I wanted to.
The instructor also controls the throttle. I was on less power and I was really happy at the level I was at, as I'd get scared if it got turned up too much (though he did sneakily increase it when he could see I was flying with confidence. I only found this out once I'd come in for my break).
I really enjoyed the experience of flying above the water, weaving and looping around the lake, skimming the water with my toes. Tentatively I'd try to go higher but I'd panic and drop back into my comfort zone. That's a great aspect of it, you can go at the level you enjoy and there's no pressure to go too high or too fast, though those options are available once you show you have control of the jetpack.
There is a swimmer in the water with you for safety (and embarrassingly at times, a photographer) but it's very easy to resurface if you hit the water. I was amazed at how light the pack was in the water, and when I did have one very spectacular crash, where I did an aerial backflip, my first thought as I hit the water was not of panic but 'I hope they filmed this!'. Alas they were changing cameras at the time, otherwise you'd have a hilarious photo of me, legs in the air, plunging head first into the water.
The group that came after me was two couples who had got vouchers for their husbands for Christmas, and were spending the day at the lake. Sydney Jetpack Adventures have chairs and drinks so it's quite relaxing to watch the others while waiting your turn, if in a group. Both Red Balloon and Adrenalin have transferable vouchers, in case the gift recipient chickens out, however if I can do it and love the experience, I doubt that would happen too often!
If you are over 18 (16 or 17 year olds can fly with written permission from parent), then put this on your list for something to try - get a group together and spend the day by the lake. It's easy to learn, and exceptionally fun to do. You get a burst of adrenalin but you control the level you fly at. I'm keen to get back and improve my flight level, as my confidence builds. Those younger people in the next group really showed me how quickly you could master it. I returned home without a bruise, but with a grin that wouldn't go away and a happy sense of accomplishment. That is the best experience of all.