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Flying high over DL beach

Jetpack Minnesota Water Flights owner Todd Ellingson demonstrates his fly board on Little Detroit Lake Saturday afternoon. Ellingson has brought the water sport to Detroit Lakes this summer and is ready to take customers on the flight of their lives. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

The latest in water sport activities has come to the place with all the lakes.

Jetpack Minnesota Water Flights, LLC has hit the waters of Detroit Lakes, and people can experience the feeling of hovering over the lake 30 feet in the air. And for the skilled, like owner Todd Ellingson, they can even dive through the waters like a dolphin.

After trying it out for themselves, Ellingson and business partner Mary Beth Ellegaard knew right away that jetpack water flights would be a hit in the lakes area.

“We both said at the same time, ‘I bet this could work in Detroit Lakes,’” Ellegaard said.

In California at the time, they returned to Detroit Lakes and purchased the equipment to get their business going. Ellingson said he’s been trying it out on Munson Lake where he lives since the ice was off the lake this spring.

Now that the warm weather is here, he’s ready let other people experience the extreme water sport.

“We will be mobile. If people want this on their lake, we can be on their lake,” he said.

The way it works, the person getting ready to “fly” straps their feet into boots — similar to on a snowboard — attached to the fly board, which is about the size of a skateboard.

The board is then hooked to a personal watercraft — like a jet ski for example — via a power hose. The person on the jet ski controls the distance the person goes into the air through the throttle of the jet ski.

Ellingson said the person on the fly board and the person on the jet ski can hear each other out on the lake, and communicate easily. As the person on the jet ski, Ellingson said he gets a feel for the confidence level of the person on the fly board and determines how high in the air he should take the person.

“It’s about getting out and getting a feel for the person,” he said.

He said he starts people out at four to five feet above the water so they can get a feel for it first. The person in the boots controls how he or she moves through the air. Once they are comfortable, Ellingson said people can get 40 feet in the air on the fly board.

Each person who rents time with Jetpack Minnesota Water Flights, LLC goes through a training session before going up, which includes a training video, safety guidelines and instructions on how to handle the board. They will also need to sign waivers.

And for those who worry about falling or not being able to stay upright on the board — no worries, Ellingson said.

“The worst thing is that you’re going to land in the water,” he said, adding that it could feel like a belly flop into the water.

“It can be a little intimidating at first.”

Ellingson, who is certified on the jetpack flight equipment, went through his training in California, where he first tried the water sport. He saw a video of it and “had to go try it.”

“I like the thrills of different things,” he said, listing skydiving as another example.

For his business in Detroit Lakes, Ellingson has ordered a hover board, which is bigger like a snowboard. It should be coming soon, he added.

“You can skip across the water in front of you,” he said.

To drum up business, the pair is walking the beach, handing out business cards, and Ellingson has been out showing off his product.

“Gotta toy, gotta play,” he said with a laugh.

Saturday afternoon, several people on the city beach could be heard talking about the fly board and taking pictures with their cell phones, which is exactly what the business partners are hoping for.

Anyone interested in experiencing the fly board can contact Jetpack Minnesota Water Flights through a variety of ways. Holiday Inn is taking reservations for its guests, and the business is listed on Facebook at Jetpackmn.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.