He may be the first man to fly a jetpack from Newport Harbor to Catalina Island, setting a world record for time and distance, but he’s not the first to fall for the historic allure of the journey.
Dean O'Malley, president of JetLev Southwest, flew the 26.2-mile trip to Catalina in just over four hours Saturday exactly 100 years after Glenn L. Martin's historic flight by plane from Newport Beach to Catalina Island.
“One hundred years ago, people thought Glenn Martin was crazy when he flew his sea plane from Newport to Catalina, now people fly all around the world every single day,” said O’Malley. “Hopefully in a few years, jetpack flight won't be such an unbelievable concept, and people may actually be using it as a viable means of transportation."
For now, jetsetters need $100,000 to purchase their own jetpack, said Eric Longabardi, Media Consultant for The Catalina Project. But O’Malley is trailblazing the path for routine jetpack flight, he said.
“No one has ever flown this far before – not event close,” Longabardi said.
During the course of the journey, O’Malley had to stop to refuel twice. About halfway through the trip, the wind kicked up and the waters became choppy, but the greatest challenge was exhaustion.
O’Malley prepared as if training for a marathon. Just like running in a marathon or competing for six hours in motocross, it takes a toll on your body, said Longabardi.
“He’ll definitely be feeling it today,” Longabardi added. “Once he saw the island, he told me there was no way he wasn’t going to make it.”
As O’Malley approached the beach in Catalina, his endorphins kicked in, and he found the energy to perform a few tricks for the crowd, said Longabardi. The record-setting journey was chronicled by ABC and is expected to air on Nightline Monday, added Longabardi.