Water jetpack business lifts off

A new business is offering lake enthusiasts throughout the metro a chance to reach new heights with their adventures on the water.

Joe Briant soars into the air using the Flyboard on Medicine Lake while his wife Julie looks on. Briant’s business, Just Add Water Flyboard, offers rental flights on the personal water jetpacks. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Derek Bartos)
Joe Briant soars into the air using the Flyboard on Medicine Lake while his wife Julie looks on. Briant’s business, Just Add Water Flyboard, offers rental flights on the personal water jetpacks. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Derek Bartos)

Waverly-based Just Add Water Flyboard, which started up earlier this year, offers rental flights on a Flyboard or Hoverboard — personal water jetpacks that mount to individuals’ feet and sends them into the air or through the water.

“It’s an exciting thing you can do on the water that hasn’t been around too long,” said Joe Briant, who owns the business.

The Flyboard and Hoverboard were created by Zapata Racing of France in 2012. To create lift, water pressure from a personal watercraft is redirected through a 65-foot hose that splits into two nozzles that are pointed down.

A rotating bearing beneath the Flyboard allows users to spin freely around the supply hose, while the Hoverboard serves more as a surfboard in the air.

“Making your feet parallel lifts you, and you put your toes down to travel forward and start to dip,” Briant said. “With a little knee bend, you turn to the left or the right. It’s kind of like snow skiing.”

Joe Briant performs one of his favorite maneuvers – “dolphin diving” — while demonstrating how the Flyboard’s propulsion system can add a fun twist to swimming. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Derek Bartos)
Joe Briant performs one of his favorite maneuvers – “dolphin diving” — while demonstrating how the Flyboard’s propulsion system can add a fun twist to swimming. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Derek Bartos)

The propulsion can also send users through the water, which allows them to perform a variety of swimming maneuvers, such as diving in the manner of a dolphin.

“It’s a really cool feeling,” Briant said. “You kind of feel like a super hero when you’re doing it.”

Briant took his first flight last summer — a birthday gift from his wife. Following the experience, he began looking into ownership, and purchased a unit last fall. He also became a certified instructor.

“I had my friends be the guinea pigs, and I taught them,” he said with a laugh. “We started the business this spring, and it’s going well.”

Briant said he has had customers from various backgrounds and of all ages, including a 72-year-old. He’s even had clients who were unable to swim.

“That was a little surprising,” he said.

Briant added that many customers are thrill-seekers.

“A lot of them also scuba dive or sky dive,” he said. “It’s a really good bucket-list item.”

The Hoverboard is similar to a Flyboard but is shaped more like a skateboard. It allows users to “surf” in the air. (Submitted photo)
The Hoverboard is similar to a Flyboard but is shaped more like a skateboard. It allows users to “surf” in the air. (Submitted photo)

While the action is adventurous, Briant said flyboarding is safer than many people think, and the instructor is in total control of the flyer’s power.

“Typically when I first pick people up, I’m only going to pick you up one or two feet,” he said. “If you flop, it’s pretty much like falling off the dock.”

Safety gear is provided. Briant is also certified in first aid and CPR and as a first responder.

Once people become comfortable flying a few feet above the water, they can go a little higher, Briant said.

“Usually when I get people up to about 10 feet, they start to get scared, but I can put people up about 30 feet in the air,” he said.

Briant added that most people learn the movement quickly and get up in the air within 1-10 minutes.

“It’s really not that difficult to do,” he said. “It’s more about balance than it is strenuous. I compare it to riding a bike. You fall when learning to ride a bike, but your body quickly learns how to balance.”

Just Add Water Flyboard offers flights primarily on Medicine Lake and Waverly Lake, but Briant can travel to other lakes as well.

“I’m completely mobile, so I can go to a variety of locations — lake homes and cabins too,” he said.

Flights are available late afternoon/early evening on weekdays and throughout the day on weekends. Sunday flights are only available at Waverly Lake.

The minimum age is 15, and minors must have a parent present and sign a waiver consent form. Flyers must weight between 100 and 300 pounds.

Flyboarding may not be suitable for individuals with mobility issues or previous back, neck or leg injuries. Pregnant women should not ride the Flyboard.

For more information or to schedule a flight, visit justaddwaterflyboard.com or call 763-614-0371.

Contact Derek Bartos at [email protected]