From the moment you get to the dock, you already feel like you’ve left southern Louisiana. The vibe is more Miami than bayou. Massive boats are passing through the marina, while seafood restaurants line the water’s edge. I found Geremy on the dock in the middle of the action, hanging out next to NOLA Flyboarding’s pontoon boat.
The word sounds majestic: flyboarding. Even before you fully know what it means, you just know it’s going to be cool. The flyboard itself is a board with two boots attached, and the whole setup almost looks like a snowboard when you’re wearing it. The flyboard also has a long hose that connects the board to a jetski. The jetski propels water through the hose and to the board, which then directs the water straight down. The water pressure shooting down from the board is strong enough to force the board and rider into the air.
Geremy was our instructor for the afternoon, and he loaded us all up on the boat. There were four of us heading out on the water: Tom, Cindy, their daughter, Hannah, and myself. None of us were entirely sure what to expect.
The boat ride itself only took a few moments, and we anchored just a little ways into Lake Pontchartrain. Geremy is a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, and a spectacular instructor. Experience with other boardsports such as wakeboarding or snowboarding will come in handy, but really anyone can easily pick up the skills needed for flyboarding. His lesson covered the important things, like how to turn right and left, how to stand up, and a gentle reminder not to crash into the boat. Throughout the whole afternoon, whether he was on the boat or was on the jetski, Geremy had us all laughing. He also easily made us all confident enough to realize that we could handle the flyboard.
After the lesson, Tom was raring to go, while Hannah seemed a bit nervous at first, and Cindy had a look on her face that seemed to say she was resigned to her loved ones risking life and limb for the sake of fun (I get that look from my mother frequently).
Tom was the first in the water, and it seemed like within moments he was already in the air. Turning proved to be more difficult than it looked though, and Tom was tumbling back down into the water. Once he was back up he got the hang of it, and he spent the next twenty minutes perfecting his moves. He climbed back on the boat with a huge smile on his face, and it was Hannah’s turn to jump into the lake. She also refined her flyboarding skills pretty quickly, and it wasn’t long until Geremy was teaching her tricks like diving into the water and making sharp, sudden turns. Just judging by Tom’s and Hannah’s smiles, I knew this was going to be fun.
Finally it was my turn on the board. After executing two practice turns in the water, I heard the cue from Geremy, stood up on the board, and I was in the air! It’s a shock the first time you take off and feel yourself leaving the surface of the lake; you rise so quickly that before you even realize it you’re already flying. Geremy was never far away, calling out instructions and encouragement. It only takes a couple minutes for the sensation to feel comfortable, and it never stops feeling incredible. Before you know it, you’re moving around the surface of the lake, flying high, making turns, and moving yourself forward. (And, yes, occasionally tumbling back in the water only to take off again).
The time goes by quickly while you’re connected to the board, and pretty soon you’re back on the boat, already planning when you can make another trip out to go flyboarding.
NOLA Flyboarding has been operating on Lake Pontchartrain for three years, and takes a mixed clientele of locals and tourists out on the water. In addition to flyboarding, the company also offers jet ski rentals and boat rentals. When you’re ready to fly, check them out at nolaflyboarding.com.
Photo by Chase Berenson.