If having a hotel bartender craft the perfect medium-dry vodka martini doesn’t completely satisfy your James Bond fantasy, be advised that something very 007-ish is debuting this month at the TradeWinds Island Grand resort on St. Pete Beach: Water-propelled jet pack rides, by way of a contraption called a JetLev.
After being schooled for ten minutes at the TradeWinds JetLev Flight Center and signing – you guessed it – a release form acknowledging that operating the jet pack is a hazardous activity, you’ll head behind the resort, strap on a life jacket, and get harnessed into the pack.
How does a water-propelled jet pack work? According to TradeWinds, the JetLev "is powered by a custom-designed 225 horsepower engine," which creates "600-800 gallons per minute of thrust," propelling the pilot (you) to a height of up to 30 feet at speeds up to 30 mph. You’ll be trained to control the JetLev, but a flight instructor will stand by to work the pack’s throttle remotely, if need be. And a flight assistant, riding a wave runner alongside, will act as your wingman.
As I have not yet piloted a JetLev, I can’t describe the sensation. But the people in this video seem pretty excited about it.
JetLev riders must be 18 or older. The 45-minute experience (with a half-hour of actual airtime) costs $275 for TradeWinds guests, $310 for non-guests. Rides can be booked through the resort ahead of time or on site, or by calling 727-363-2294.
For an extra fee you can rent a waterproof camera to strap to your head, enabling you to capture first-person video. Which reminds me that there’s a JetLev Code of Conduct, whose rule number seven stipulates, “please, no swearing.” But something tells me that if water sports enthusiasts are being shot 30 feet above the Gulf of Mexico at 30 mph, that rule will be a tricky one to enforce.