Scratching our heads on this one. Did they name the 2014 Flyboard Cup after us, X-Jets? Are they so impressed with our X name that team Z is trying to co-opt a cool factor? Did their organizers in Dubai go off the reservation and try to make plans for the future when the hydro sport is open to real competition, X-Games style? A puzzler for sure, but we like the compliment.
One thing we do know is that we are not invited. We have been told point blank by the organizers and by the head of the brand. Riders on Jetblades are not allowed. The winning quote “this is a private event and is not open to competitors on products from other brands”. We know that riders on Jetblades would clean up, so we understand why they won’t let us in. That naturally call into question why call it a World Cup? Just call it the Private Flyboard Cup 2014 Invitational and cut the pretense.
Since we can discuss it, but the Flyboard “press” cannot, what is up with the judging?? What are the prizes being offered for this main “event”?
We have had a few questions recently on how Jetblade Indy Jets work and what makes them different from standard fixed foot Jets. It seems there are some old-skool interpretations on why man was meant to fly with both feet locked together. Let’s walk through the dynamics of how vectored thrust flight actually works. As beautifully detailed in the 1950’s seminal work, “Man balancing on a jet platform” RM L52D10, there are two forces at work. The big G, gravity, and little f, force. Everything about the way we fly in hydro is about the balance of these two forces. The dynamic equilibrium. Balance the forces and you hover above the water. Little more force through increased water flow and you rise higher. Continue reading
Ben Merrell and Jeff Elkins have developed a wireless jet ski throttle for use across hydro sports. We have not gotten a chance to try it yet, but it is looking great. Here is a video of it in action. More info by calling Flytronics at +1 850 218 8894 or email@example.com
Ben Merrell shows what a few hours on the Jetblade can produce for an experienced rider. Eye of the storm.
We met Dean LaVelle by coincidence in Florida when looking for the ideal wakeboard bindings. The guy at the Miami Ski Nautique said, “you have a new board? You gotta show Dean.” The connection was made. Dean jumped on the JetBlade and immediately began ripping it up at his wakeboard school in Pompano Beach Florida. A recent trip to Cancun Mexico continues broadening the horizons of what is possible.
This is the Jetblade with the torsion bars in place during initial testing, look at the streams and the smoothness of the jets.
The grand-daddy of hydro applications, Jetlev. Took Wendell Moore’s development for Bell and attached it to a jet ski. Examples: Jetlev from Jetlev Inc., AquaFlyer (concept) from Jetlev Inc., FlyJet Shuttle from Flyjets, X-Jetpack H3X from Stratospheric Industries.
The upstart freestyle alternative to the jetpack. Examples Flyboard, a brand from Zapata Racing. FlySurf from Adrenalin, FlyJetBoard from Flyjets, Jet Water Board JWB,
Jet bike conceptsJetovator, JetBike
Hoverboard by Zapata Racing
Hoverboard by Zapata Racing
Sidewinder, a snake that moves sideways across the sand. An air to air missile. A hydro UFS, Under Foot Symmetrical jets made by Stratospheric Industries, Inc. So why do we call this amazing hydro jet device a Sidewinder? It is about the motion through the air. The unlocked foot angle control is night and day different from pre-existing “jetboards”. It is like the difference between riding a skateboard and riding a roller cart with swivel wheels. We first saw independent swivel jets on a FlyJet out of Russia in 2012, the yaw motion was great, swiveling around the body’s axis, we had the same motion in a jetpack and it seemed kind of obvious, but it was an eye opener none the less. We knew we had to include it on our unit. Now, what to call the product itself? JetBlade. The model, Sidewinder, the thing, JetBlade.
We are testing the Sidewinder and keeping everyone updated through Instagram and WhatsApp. Tim and Russian Paul and the Hydro Shaper are all taking it easy and getting the feel of it. We send the pics to our partner in Dubai, he writes back, “nice, but can it go high?”. We give the Sidewinder to Om and tell him to see what he can do. Om has no fear. He takes it up, signals for more power and flies around for twenty minutes, getting a feel for the altitude, laughing the whole time. He brings it back, lands next to the beach, doesn’t even get his hair wet. We send the photos, “need to go higher?” we ask… “No need, very good” is the response.
Modular choice rules.
When we initiated the JetBlade project, we looked at the full range of possibilities for the rider – hydro board interface, the bindings. Our lead designer the HydroShaper, spent years designing and manufacturing dozens of models snowboard bindings for virtually all of the leading snowboard brands. Hundreds of thousands of the bindings were used and are in use around the world. He knows that the key to a great product is scale of production, in order to make a great boot or binding, you literally need to build tens of thousands of units. Tooling costs for good molds, batch productions, the best materials, getting it right with quantity. JetBlade riding is nowhere near that scale, manufacturing a specific binding is cost prohibitive. As the sport evolves it is absolutely necessary that the equipment evolve just as fast. The industry standard is wakeboard bindings, they fit the task perfectly and there is a whole industry built to deliver great products around the world. We could have sourced a midrange binding from a middleman, but that would not fit all the requirements of our users.
We came to the conclusion that the best option for our customers is to be able to choose a boot and binding from the full range of choices in the market. From fit to style to price range, everything is available online or locally. The full infrastructure of support exists for the widest variety of choice.
We recommend the following bindings from different companies. Liquid Force Vantage, open toe, fits lots of different sizes, velcro straps get you in and out quickly without the extra laces hanging out.
We sell our Sidewinder without a binding, with full compatibility to existing wakeboard boots, bindings and combination systems using a six inch hole pattern.
We design and build everything from the waterline up. From production CNC jet ski connections, to sealed hydro bearing systems, to the power focusing shape of the water channels. We were the first in the industry to engineer our own sealed ball bearing systems directly into our nozzles, saving weight, removing complexity and keeping all the power going out the nozzles. A smoother water flow means a better performing product. We use all marine grade materials and finishes.
Water flows are tested first in specialized water flow simulation software then in the ocean on prototypes. This allows us to experiment and refine the flows with exacting detail.
We formed Stratospheric Industries, Inc. to build hydro equipment in 2011. Our first project was to build a better, more accessible hydro jetpack system, the X-Jetpack H3X. After all if you have such a cool concept it deserves cool well made equipment, the first attempts and making hydro jetpacks were, well, first attempts. Around the globe, the centers that used the jetpack were impressed with the technology and the workmanship and many immediately asked if we were going to build a better Flyboard. Everyone had experience with a couple seasons of Zapata Racing’s Flyboard and yet was asking for more. They supplied us with a long list of requests, but the common thread was “build it like the X-Jetpack, build it solid and clean and build it to last.”
We take our time to get it right, we are nto fast, we cannot design and engineer a complete board in days as some have claimed. We design, test, simulate, review and iterate over and over until we are satisfied. We are freaks about equipment and making it right. We love what we do, we love to make equipment that others will push to the limits, we build tools that are flexible and can be expanded as this young sport grows.
Our experience engineering the X-Jetpack gave us the direction, build it tough to handle getting rough treatment in remote corners of the world. Build it efficient and flexible to fit into jet ski installations. Build it all from marine worthy materials that can handle salt water and light abuse. Use a double jacketed hose (where the weave is encapsulated on both sides) that holds up to real world usage. Make all the parts substantial and design and engineer out the tiny parts that get lost or break. Our experience working with and building equipment for pro-riders in other sports carried over directly, build it lighter, build it smoother, built it with a variable stance, optimize the center of gravity. In other words, build it for sport and let the athletes push the boundaries.
We announce the X-Jets Sidewinder, the ultimate sport “jetboard”.
We believe in safety first. To build a sport it has to survive long enough to become established. Our system is a tandem system, the rider on the jet ski controls the throttle. Two main benefits, the rider is the safety “buddy”, he is always nearby the pilot by connection and can assist. The second is that the engine control remains unmodified and factory standard. The jet ski engine is a finely tuned system and the world is full of a variety of controls in a wide variety of condition from many model years. There have been attempts to build remote throttle systems. All of them so far in the market have usability issues that outweigh the utility.
Our system is the simple but efficient system with a secondary layer of control (the second person) and a backup layer of safety, the buddy.
X-Jetpacks Lignos Athens Greece now on board for Greece! at the ShowMe! extreme sports exhibition April 10-13, 2014
Frazier put in the miles and the international trade show jetpack shipping experience and traveled to Columbia for the show. He raved about the city and the show experience, will be traveling back in April for training clients.
We traveled with the team, Shaw, Frasier and Keith, to Dubai for the 2014 Dubai Boat Show. Non-stop meeting with customers and building strategic partnership across the region. The response was truly overwhelming. We sold out the show units before the show even started and by the last day of the show units that had been ordered had already arrived in Dubai via FedEx from Shanghai. Frazier met a lot of his contacts from his days in the Ghantoot Marina back in 2010 with Pearl Watercraft. We established a great set of contacts in Dubai for service and training in the GCC region. Great show, great city, can’t wait to get back.
We spent a week and a half showing our jetpacks and answering questions from interested clients, we were able to digest most questions into a few basics.
What are the biggest differences between the X-Jetpack and the “hard shell jetpack” from other jetpack companies #1. Safety, We start with front floatation, the floatation pads on the X-Jetpack are designed to direct the pilot face up in the water after a splashdown, in the hard shell jetpack from others, the floatation is in the back, floating the pilot face down in the water. #2. Safety, our quick release harness is designed from 316 stainless steel marine fittings. The competition’s construction? Borrowed from a car race safety belt the painted steel starts to rust almost immediately with the first scratch. #3. Comfort, our competition runs a single strap right straight up your crotch, has belts that cut into your neck and hard metal fittings on a hard plastic backplate. We divide the bottom strap into two thigh straps, leaving the most sensitive parts of your body untouched, our straps are padded around the neck and our backplate is padded Cordura and comfortable and friendly. #4. Control, our nozzles have double rows of bearings that keep them moving smoothly with no change under pressure. Hard shell pack, no bearings, tight when the pressure comes on. #5. Control Torsion bar, nylon smooth. related to the steadiness of the bearings in the shoulder nozzles, smooth and progressive flex. The hard shell pack, tight inflexible carbon fiber rod “arrangement” that often breaks on the first day of use. #6. Control saddle. We have anatomical padding and side wings that automatically stabilize the pendulum swing of your legs, a quieter more stable ride for beginners and pros alike. The hard shell jetpack seat? Ask anyone that has flown it, total crap. #7. Ease of use, 360 degree swivel on the hose, spins in flight, easy unwinding of the hose at start-up.
What horsepower is needed? Horsepower is related to two factors, weight of the rider and how high you want to fly out of the water. For light to average riders in a beginner flight operation, we have had success with 150 horsepower engines. Naturally, the more horsepower, the more weight that can be flown higher. 150-180 horsepower is the good zone of horsepower for rental operations. For performance, 200 horsepower and above.
How high can you fly? An experienced pilot with a high power jetski can get up to 10 meters high. A beginning pilot with a meter or two of air under his or her feet feels the exhilaration of free flight, height is secondary!
How deep can you dive? As deep as your ear equalization would allow you to go, up to a depth of about eight meters. In actual use about two to three meters is reasonable. Naturally you have to be very sure that the underwater environment is free from any obstacles. Diving is not a usual part of jetpack flight, some people just love to push the limits up and down!
Who controls the power? The X-Jetpack system is a tandem system, the rider on the jetski controls the power. The pilot on the X-Jetpack controls the angle of flight, turning and the height for any given engine setting. With any engine setting the pilot has many options on how to direct the energy and fly.
What do you think of throttle systems? We continue to work on jetpack-based throttle systems and watch the market for developments. We have had experience and heard stories of other people’s experiences with add on throttles. There have been some unpredictable occurrences with the modified systems that the other companies have manufactured. We have heard of engines going to full power when the engine is started and tales of twisted and broken throttle cables in hoses. We have elected to go with a system that maintains the jetski powerplant control system in manufacturers original condition. Simple, direct, not sketchy.
The issue of patents and whether or not to patent is a question in all sports. We at X-Jetpacks have worked in sports design (snowboard, skate, bike, “thrill sports”) for decades and have experience with both protective patent approaches and open development. Some sports are open and progress quickly, other sports quickly tie themselves in knots with patents and lawsuits. Windsurfing is the great example here, great sport, never able to progress past the formative stage due to in fighting.
The problem with patenting in hydro jetpacks is two fold. Jetlev Technologies was able to secure a patent in the US and Australia for a water jetpack. Problem one because, as outlined below, the technology is demonstrably not original. The second problem is what happens with an IP monopoly, it stifles innovation and competition. Because of the issued US and Australian patents, the market are restricted to Jetlev only products for jetpacks. Jetlev chooses to sell expensive models only, develop the equipment at a snails pace, and offer no choice for the consumer, no chance for competition. As a result the Flyboard came into the market and ate their lunch, making huge strides into a market that should have been theirs.
Our grandfathers working at NASA and Western New York aeronautical companies did massive research in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s in the fields of individual flight systems. Even a flyboard shows up powered by compressed air. The old saying, “There is nothing is new under the sun” holds true. The pilot checking his watch at 1:08 is the height of casual.
Jetlev took the same patent application and submitted it to the European Patent office. The European Patent office was quickly able to see that the major components of this system were based on Wendell Moore’s work in the 1960’s and the patents that were issued at that time. Simply powering a jetpack by using water (Jetlev) instead of steam (BELL Aerospace) is not a significant step of invention. The European Patent office rejected most all of the claims on this ground. Continue reading