New sport uses water to send riders flying

On an August Saturday at Lucky Peak Reservoir, a person hovered high above the water in a scene that looked straight out of the movies.

"It feels like you're flying," said Aly Clark after she landed on the water. "I feel like Tinker Bell, but everyone else says they feel like Iron Man."

The sport is called Flyboarding, and flight is achieved when water shoots from two big jets on the bottom of a board to which a rider's feet are strapped.

Clark, 18, is immersed in Flyboarding. With the help of her family, she bought the rights to the futuristic machine, making her the only licensed seller and renter in Idaho. She spends every weekend at Lucky Peak, offering folks the flight of a lifetime.

"It's something you talk about forever," Clark said. "We had a guy who was 78 do it, and kids as young as 10."

The Flyboard is attached to a jet ski with 60 feet of fire hose. The jet ski diverts its power to push water through the hose, which lifts the rider into the air. The jet ski's RPMs control how high the rider goes. When Clark rides it, she can reach 40 feet.

She even talked me into giving it a try. I zipped up a lifejacket, buckled my helmet and slid into the board's boots, which felt like those of a wakeboard. She ran the jet ski and coached me, shouting, "Take your flight position!"

The "flight position" requires the rider to stand perfectly straight, which is rather tricky. You have to lock your knees, keep your back straight, squeeze your butt and hold your arms at your sides. I held it as long as I could, but it was a true test of balance and I sucked. I would look down, bend a knee, flail my arms and end up crashing to the water in a jet-pack-powered belly flop. I topped out at 4 or 5 feet.

Accomplished Flyboarders can do dolphin dives and back flips. Maybe I'd get the hang of it after another ride or two, but Flyboarding isn't cheap--a 20-minute session costs $149 and nearly $200 for 40 minutes. To buy the board itself, you'll fork out $4,800, plus a required $350 class from the pros. But Clark said anyone can do it.

"If you can stand on a chair and change a light bulb, you can Flyboard," she said.

Clark's favorite part of getting people on the board is taking them out of their comfort zone. She hopes that after trying Flyboarding, folks will be more willing to try other new things as well. She calls that rewarding.

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