Water Jetpacks: What’s The Deal?
Officials at Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources want you to be careful with those jetpacks.
No, not the James Bond jetpacks that run on rocket fuel. Even cooler: these are fueled by water and can propel you 30 feet into the air.
So, the department--worried about rider safety, as well as the safety of surrounding boats and swimmers—has issued new regulations, which took effect June 20. Among other things, they require riders to be at least 16 and to wear helmets and life jackets if they go more than 10 feet above the water.
They mostly affect Ocean City merchants who offer the thrill rides.
Originally created and designed by Raymond Li, CEO of Jetlev Technologies, a Florida based firm, the first water jetpack R200 went on sale in 2012 for roughly $100,000.
The jetpacks are powered by a small, unmanned boat with a 110-horsepower engine that forces water through a long tube and out of nozzles on either side of a backpack. Here’s a JetLev promotional video that shows what they look like in action (you’ll get the drift in the first minute and 40 seconds):
Maryland joins Florida, Arizona, Texas and Hawaii as states with restrictions on the devices. According to an article on delmarvanow.com, the rules are emergency regulations and will only last for 180 days. That gives state and local police time to monitor their effect. DNR may hold a public hearing in January to discuss whether to make changes to the rules.
Mike Grant, the regulations coordinator for DNR, told delmarvanow they, “knew these things were coming.”
“They’re very popular. They’re very cool,” he said. “They look like an awful lot of fun. But we were unsure how they were going to affect the environment and other boaters. Everything we went through when jet skis came out, we had to look at that all over again."
City officials in Newport Beach, CA issued a six-month ban in June 2014 on new water jet pack businesses in the city, according to the Orange County Register. Only one water jetpack business is operating in Newport Beach right now, but with two other businesses expressing interest, residents voiced concerns about “noise, injuries, wakes and possible proliferation of the water-propelled devices."
Since these water jet packs have hit, many users have taken to YouTube to display their talents, including the inevitable couple who just had to get married on them. The ceremony was in--where else?--Newport Beach.