Florida on a Tankful w/ TOP GUN Flyboards
On the horizon, it looks like a special effect from a summer blockbuster movie. In Manatee County, you too can become a stuntman of sorts on the water.
Just off the sand in Palma Sola Bay is where you may think you’re eyes are playing tricks on you with what looks like a sea serpent in the water.
“Flyboarding is a water propelled jet pack that straps to your feet, and we use that water force underneath you to pick you up and you fly above the water,” explained Jonathon Brockhoff, a flyboard instructor with Top Gun Flyboards.
While Jonathon is graceful with the water-powered jet pack strapped to his feet, this is more than the art of dance.
“It’s one of the fastest growing watersports in the world right now,” Jonathon said.
When giving a demonstration, Jonathon is more like hip-hop dancer, athlete and ballerina all rolled into one.
“It’s extremely easy. Only takes 5 to 10 minutes,” Jonathon says of the learning curve. He’s also quick to add on camera that nobody has ever been hurt in four years of operation.
“A lot of people get nervous about it,” Jonathon admits.
“Worst case scenario, it’s like falling off the high dive.”
Once feet are strapped into the board, flyers head out already in the water. A 50-foot hose from the jet pack leads to the water output on the back of a personal watercraft.
When the driver of the watercraft hits the gas, the stream of water that normally exits the boat, instead travels through the hose and exits the foot board.
With a squeeze of the throttle, lift happens. Be ready to be unsteady as your body is slowly lifted out of the water. Once standing, the board also exits the water and begins to lift you higher.
IN PRODUCTION TODAY: Ready to dance on water? @topgunflyboard in #Manatee Co. says you’ll be up like this in 5 minutes. #TankfulGuy Video: pic.twitter.com/B7pikSgDwj — ScottFaisTV (@ScottFaisTV) June 18, 2017
First time riders can expect to stand five to 20 feet above Palma Sola Bay. Or, if you’re like teenage athlete CJ Haskins from visiting from Virginia, you’re attempting backflips within ten minutes.
“It’s hard to learn. You’re over compensating, but once you get it, it’s easy,” said the football and basketball player. He’s not alone.
“[My] brother, he’s OK,” said CJ’s sister Gabbi with a grin.
She too also began to get the hang of flyboarding before a Florida afternoon thunderstorm forced Gabbi back to shore.
“[It’s] just like diving into a pool I guess,” she said.
Not to worry, Top Gun Flyboard’s rain policy will let Gabbi comeback for free before her Florida vacation comes to an end.
“It’s an experience of a lifetime,” Jonathon said. “Definitely bucket list.”