As if flying around on jetpack-powered boots weren't futuristic enough, Power Up Watersports is taking to the Flyboard with a new look.
Ben Merrell, co-owner of the company located at 101 Calhoun Avenue, recently borrowed a suit lined with neon-lights from his friend Jeff Elkins, of Panama City Beach. He put the suit on, strapped into his Flyboard and took to the air looking like a cross between Iron Man and a character from Tron.
Batteries power the white lights on the arms, legs, chest and head of the suit, as well as the red lights that glow through the water blasting from the bottom of the Flyboard. Elkins regularly flies in the suit around the Panama City Beach area, and Merrell borrowed it for a test run and a bit of promotion for his company.
Flyboard is the invention of Franky Zapata, a French professional Jet Ski and Sea-Doo racer. He first created the device in the spring of 2011, and then presented it to the public for the first time in 2012. Merrell and his wife owned a mattress store at the time. When they saw the Flyboard on YouTube, they decided to enter a new market.
"Before it was even available in the (United) States or anything, we just sold our mattresses, closed that business and reached out (to the manufacturer)," Merrell told The Log.
Merrell said he pre-purchased the first Flyboard sold in the United States in March 2012 and received it from the distributer that June. Since then, Merrell's Flyboard has carried more than 500 people on about 1,500 flights over Destin's waters.
Power Up Watersports offers rides on the Flyboard, with lessons from a certified instructor included. Rides cost $100 for 20 minutes, or $250 for one hour.
"The hardest part is the transition from the water to the air, but as soon as you are able to get your legs under you and stand up, people are usually fine and get it quickly," Merrell said. "We guarantee you will fly."
Learn more about Flyboarding or book a flight at www.powerupwatersports.com.