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Blast off! We try flying a water-powered jetpack

Posted at 5:15 pm, September 7, 2013 in Fun London, Outdoor London
Jetpacks: © Scott Wishart / Time Out

The intrepid Alix Fox asked for a challenge. So you sent her soaring over London in a wetsuit…

WakeUp Docklands’ sounds like a breakfast show hosted by Alan Partridge. In fact, it’s a watersports area right by Royal Victoria DLR station, home to the UK’s only H2O-powered jetpack.

The JetLev allows you to fly up to 30ft in the air at speeds approaching 45mph. It’s propelled by two cannons of water that shoot from your sides, pumped by a motor aboard a small boat which you tow along as you blast across the sky.

After I sign a waiver that makes me want to wet myself before I even get into the water, my instructors Marc and Mike strap me into the contraption. Looking a bit like a poundshop Buzz Lightyear I jump into the river, swallowing the first of many mouthfuls of the Thames – and frankly I don’t want the Thames in my mouth. Then the
engines start.

Jetpacks: © Scott Wishart / Time Out

‘Keep your body as limp as you can,’ shouts Marc. Unfortunately, that’s not very limp: I tense up and flip over. ‘A 67-year old mastered this the other week,’ Mike reassures me. ‘You’ll get the knack.’

Finally, I manage to take off, and I discover that flying a jetpack truly is as exhilarating as it sounds. I only get 8ft into the air, but I feel about 80ft tall. You steer by tipping your body from side to side, as you would on a motorcycle, but it becomes harder to balance the higher you go. So I barrel straight into a buoy.

‘Let me demonstrate what £80k worth of machine can really do,’ winks Marc, before looping-theloop and striking a cross-legged yoga pose in the sky as I marvel from the dock, soggy as an over-dunked digestive. The next day, my neck aches from swerving and (oddly) I have intensely bruised lower buttocks (all the clenching?). It was worth it, though. The bits where I’m sore just remind me of the bits where I soared.

Fly above the water at Waterfront Studios, 1 Dock Rd, E16 1AG. Open daily 9am-5pm. £149 for one hour. Find out more at jetlev-flyeruk.com.

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