Bobby Ecker said he felt like Iron Man as he soared through the air 20 feet above Lake Overholser on Tuesday.
The salesman at David's Sport Center tested a sky-soaring Flyboard to determine whether the store would begin carrying the new water toy.
Management at David's Sport Center, 6301 NW 10, are still debating if they will sell the boards because each one comes with a nearly $6,000 price tag. They also are wary of stocking the boards because the technology is relatively new. If the store does decide to carry the boards, it would be the first Flyboard retailer in the state.
The plaything was developed in 2011 by French personal watercraft rider Franky Zapata and was brought to America in 2012.
Water that propels the board upward comes through a hose attached to the waterspout of a jet propulsion boat or personal watercraft. The faster the watercraft goes, the higher the rider goes on the board, Ecker said.
“It's like standing on the edge of a building,” Ecker said. “It was kind of overwhelming how high you can feel.”
While the hose allows the board to safely go up to 35 feet in the air, Ecker only went up about 20 feet and even that seemed unbelievably high, he said. He said he felt most comfortable being only a few feet in the air.
As the watercraft controls the power of the board, the rider controls the steering and direction using their feet and knees. Riders' feet are strapped to the board in bindings, much like on a wakeboard or snowboard.
Ecker had seen videos of people flying above the waves on YouTube, but he didn't think about stocking the boards until Gulf States Flyboard distributor Jeff Luft contacted him.
The Austin, Texas, company sells the boards in several states and is looking to add Oklahoma. Luft has been working to sell the watercraft for about the past two months and will continue to try to sell them in Oklahoma if David's Sport Center doesn't stock them.
Luft first encountered the Flyboard when he saw someone riding one on an Iowa lake. He tried one the next day and bought a board the day after.
“I was like, ‘I can do this,' so I bought it immediately,” Luft said. “I didn't even own a Jet Ski, and I bought it.”
It took Ecker a little training and about five minutes of trial and error to finally get the hang of aquatic flying.
“It's for a responsible person,” Ecker said. “It's not for everyone to ride unless they have training.”
Everyone who buys a Flyboard is required to receive training to ride it safely at a Flyboard dealer or distributor, Luft said. The learning curve of how to fly is usually only about five minutes, but Gulf States wants to teach people how to fly safely, he said.
There are beginner, intermediate and advanced classes that teach participants everything from simply accelerating out from the water to doing dolphin jumps into the water and flips in the air, Luft said.
“We don't just sell these and hand them out to people,” Luft said. “You have to be qualified to be able to fly them.”