Hoverboarding – The Future is Now



Marty McFly would be pleased.

Once just wishfully imagined in the 1980s classic movie “Back To The Future II,” the dream of the hoverboard is now alive and well on the waters around Hilton Head Island.

When owner Taylor Whitehead launched HHI Jetpack last spring, he sent Lowcountry clients flying in the air with the once-in-a-lifetime jetpack experience. And after a successful opening season, Whitehead added the unique hoverboard option to his services in April.

“This is definitely something that we wanted to expand into and get different equipment like hoverboards that people would enjoy,” says Whitehead, who completed rigorous training for the hoverboard experience. “This is perfect for people who like to surf, skateboard, wakeboard or snowboard. It’ll be right up their alley. They’ll really enjoy this experience.”

The hoverboard looks similar to a wakeboard, with a pair of foot straps to keep the rider in place. The device is related to a flyboard, a smaller board with two water nozzles that propels riders vertically through the air. The difference between the flyboard and the hoverboard, however, is that the flyboard has boots attached to the board and the water jet points downward, while on the hoverboard, your feet fit into foot straps and the jet points backward. Those with a background in board sports may find the hoverboard an easier challenge, but previous experience is not necessary.

“It takes a little bit of balance (to adjust), but I, for the life of me, could not get up on a wakeboard. I’ve tried many times, and I just could not do it,” says Whitehead. “And I got right on with the first try on the hoverboard.”

The unique experience is powered by water. The underside of the hoverboard is connected by a hose to a small personal watercraft (Whitehead uses a Jet Ski). The water goes through the hose and out to the hoverboard to propel the rider. The thrust from the Jet Ski, which accompanies the rider, stiffens the hose and enables the hoverboard to elevate. The more power that is supplied from the Jet Ski, the faster and higher the rider goes.

“It’s the same type of (concept) as the jetpack, only it’s a board, and it’s powered by the Jet Ski as well,” says Whitehead. “We control your power, and you get to control where you go. It’s like skateboarding on water, but with waves and everything. You steer with your feet. If you want to get height, you lift up on your front foot. If you want to go lower, you push down on your front foot.”

Like with the jetpack, the response has been tremendous.

“So far, everyone has really enjoyed it. Everybody’s gotten up and been able to fly on it. Everybody likes it. It’s really cool,” says Whitehead. “The more you do it, the easier it is create a fly and control it.”

The excursions close for a few months in winter due to water temperatures, but otherwise the rides can be enjoyed nearly year-round. And it’s an adventure that is surprisingly safe, despite the stunning visual. Whitehead, 24, is a certified Master Jetpack trainer, having completing an intensive month-long course in Florida to learn maintenance and safety. The hoverboard, invented by Jet Ski champion Franky Zapata, is made of carbon fiber, making it lightweight but also strong enough to safely re-enter the water at fast speeds.

“Safety is a priority. We want people to know how safe this really is. People might think it’s dangerous, but it’s not,” says Whitehead, who is trained in CPR and has HHI Jetpack employees monitoring every step of the experience. “It’s extremely safe.”