05/27/2014 12:00AM ● Published by Claudia Mosby
Photos: James Mazzotta
For those who want to fly like an eagle and dive like a dolphin while playing on the water this summer, the Jetovator just may be their ticket to adventure.
Described as a “flying bike” by designer Rob Innes, general manager of Jetavation, Inc., the Jetovator is a user-friendly, less-costly alternative to the first-generation competitor Jetlev water-propelled jetpack introduced a few years ago. It is an accessory for use with a personal watercraft.
“I was tinkering around because I wanted to do my own version,” says Innes. “I worked with pieces I had lying around, items from eBay, and built a very rough prototype. It actually worked the first time.”
After realizing the project was not as complicated as he thought, Innes and his team built a second prototype with the consumer market in mind. “We realized we could build a more affordable device, simpler to operate than the Jetlev, and wanted to open up the watercraft market to those who could not pay the higher price.”
Designed to give people a taste of what it feels like to fly in a controlled manner, Innes says, “The transition from cruising in the water on a Jetovator to flying it is very, very gradual. There is no way to fly too high or too fast.”
When piloted by a professional, the device can ascend to heights of 30 feet and dive to depths of about 20 feet. Able to take off and land on just about any surface, it also has the capability to do full back flips and aerial spins.
It works by redirecting water thrust from the jet unit of the watercraft along a 40-foot hose connected to the body of the Jetovator, which propels and elevates it into the air. The rider can steer in different directions by redirecting the thrust.
The product name is actually a technical term that means “redirection of thrust.” “Lots of things have jetovators,” says Innes, “but we use it as a brand name because it sounds cool. Like the terminator, ‘I am the Jetovator.’”
Innes estimates he has taught more than 1,000 people how to operate the unit and has never worked with someone who has not mastered it. “We’ve had big people and small people, older and younger people,” he says. “Generally speaking, we can get anybody flying within about 10 minutes.”
In-house instructors conduct train-the-trainer sessions almost weekly for more than 40 international distributors. Innes believes the different levels of training help ensure safety and proper regulation.
“We are trying to establish a global network where information from us as the manufacturer is translated to distributors and ultimately end users,” he says.
“Additionally, we produce training manuals and videos.”
Currently the rental market is the largest, and dealers with personal watercraft are seizing the opportunity to market a new recreational sport to consumers. “It is kind of surpassing parasailing,” says Innes. “People look at it and think it’s impossible, that they would never be able to do it. In truth, it may take a little longer for some, but it’s not difficult.”
Priced at $6,975, the Jetovator includes everything needed to attach to a personal watercraft. “There is no drilling,” says Innes. “It is just bolt on, bolt off. It takes about 10 minutes to install with no damage to the watercraft.”
A New Zealander by birth, Innes says new opportunities brought him to Redding. “We have wonderful waterways here,” he adds. “We go out at least once a week on the Jetovator. It’s super addictive.”
www.jetovator.com • (530) 222-4598