Water Jet Packs Discussed by State, Maui Business Seeks Permit
By Wendy Osher
The state will host an informational meeting to discuss possible rules for the use of modified water propulsion jet packs in island waters.
H2O Sports in Hawaiʻi Kai is currently the only business we could confirm that is offering the excursions on Oʻahu.
Here on Maui, resident Ben Owens said he is working on establishing a similar jet pack business in West Maui, but has not yet started operation.
According to state officials, the water propulsion jet packs can “fly” an operator up to 30 feet above water, with top travel speeds of about 32 mph.
The pack consists of a boat unit that delivers pressurized water to an airborne flight unit worn on the user’s back, state officials said.
Owens said he has been doing his “due diligence” to ensure water safety standards are met when his operation does open. He called the units “very safe” and “a fun alternative” for ocean goers.
In a phone interview with Owens, he also said there were “no environmental impacts, noise is minimal,” and there is a “100% safety record” with no major injuries reported by the manufacturer.
In response to an inquiry about recent discussions on conflicting use of near-shore waters, Owens said he was looking at a similar plan to what is already established by jet ski companies that operate in the area.
He said that unlike a boat or jet ski, there is no propulsion or propeller in the water, just a water pump that services the jet pack.
Owens continued, saying the units are controlled by a certified pilot who can override the actions of a guest. Pilots, he said, gain certification by attending four days of certification training from flight instructors in a course that is offered on the mainland.
According to Owens, he is hoping to obtain an exclusivity permit from the manufacturer that would allow him to be the sole operator for Maui. He said he has not yet purchased equipment, but noted that the cost of a single unit can run in the range of $75,000.
The public meeting, hosted by the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, will take place this Thursday, July 18, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the DLNR board room on Punchbowl Street on Oʻahu.
Although the meeting is on Oʻahu, it is open to the public, and written testimony is currently being accepted from those who cannot attend in person.
Among those who are expected to provide comment during the meting are: William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson; Randy Awo, administrator, DLNR Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement; Edward Underwood, administrator, DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation; Ivan Richards, recreational boating safety specialist, US Coast Guard; as well as current operators, applicants, and fishermen.