A Flyboard is a type of water jetpack attached to a personal water craft (PWC) which supplies propulsion to drive the Flyboard through air and water to perform a sport known as flyboarding. A Flyboard rider stands on a board connected by a long hose to a watercraft. Water is forced under pressure to a pair of boots with jet nozzles underneath which provide thrust for the rider to fly up to 15 metres in the air or to dive headlong through the water.
The Flyboard was invented in spring 2011 by a French watercraft rider, Franky Zapata. He built many prototypes before perfecting the design which allows the device to climb out of the water and be stable in the air. This was achieved by the underfoot propulsion and hand stabilization The French Institut national de la propriété industrielle (INPI) granted Zapata a patent for his invention. The Flyboard was the subject of a lawsuit from competitor Jetlev which was dropped without prejudice in March 2013. The device was presented to the public for the first time at the jet ski World Championship 2012 in China. After a video was posted on YouTube the product received a lot of attention from people around the world and it was looked at as an incredible new sport phenomenon. Then after around six months the Flyboard was an “unavoidable nautical discipline". After its introduction in 2012 the Flyboard has sold around 2500 units.
The Flyboard requires proper instructions and safety gear before being able to use the product. The PWC (Personal Water Craft) is powered from 100 horse power and up and follows the rider, permitting the freedom to go anywhere, even underwater. The thrust that comes from the PWC is run through a 180 degree adapter (which allows the rider to divert and control the device in any desired motion) and then goes into the hose that is 4 inches in diameter and roughly 55 feet long and has capabilities of putting the pilot above water 35 feet or below water 35 feet. Each minute there are a thousand gallons of water flowing through this device and provides 60 psi and above along with 400 pounds of lift power. The hose is attached in a way so that the PWC follows behind the rider’s trail allowing the rider all types of freedom even allowing the rider to go under water if they desire. The pilot that is on the Flyboard is in complete control of the navigation while the throttle is controlled by the person in charge of the PWC. The pilot on the Flyboard is secured in by bindings similar to a wakeboard and the rider is propelled from water jets below the device. There are certain rules that one must go by when purchasing a Flyboard though. The Flyboard is buoyant for safety, which also allows the rider to rest in the water between rides. The use of a personal flotation device and helmet is recommended.
Two versions of the Flyboard exist: the Flyboard Standard Kit and the Flyboard Pro Rider Kit. The former is a board with hand-held stabilizers, which was the original design. The latter dispenses with the stabilizers.
Device power is controlled by a throttle on the PWC. The equipment may be used in two modes: The primary one requires two people, one to control the PWC throttle which regulates the power and height of the rider. The secondary mode relies on an accessory called an Electronic Management Kit (EMK) which allows the rider to control the jetski throttle.