Just for Fun: Hydroflight

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Photos by Libby Rogers

HydroRockets on Lake Conroe is a hydro-flight business started in March of 2013, only a few years after Ronnie Fese discovered the water sport. “A buddy of mine showed me a YouTube video of the very first jet boot device that was invented, and I knew I had to get one. I was immediately obsessed with it, and six months after seeing that video, I got my first board.” Since then, Ronnie has competed all over the world, going as far as Japan. He still competes and operates the business daily, offering options between 20 minutes and 8 hours to enjoy the experience. If you’re a Marvel film lover like me, you’ve probably wondered what it feels like to be Iron Man—and this is the closest thing I can compare it to. When asked if I was up for this assignment, I thought, “Oh, that should be fun.

Andrea and her brother Christian have a blast experiencing the fun of hydroflight!

The feature is about fun. I should get outside my comfort zone and like, be fun.” So I go home and look this up—what it is, how it works, what I will be doing. I see people flying through the air, propelled by water shooting from their feet, and anxiety floods my body. I can’t even ride a skateboard. I went on a family Segway tour once while on vacation and crashed my Segway, face-planting in an intersection…a popular intersection, by the way. I might still be bitter about that. Who manages to crash a Segway? I need solid ground beneath my feet at all times to ensure safety to myself and others. So, since this looked like it would possibly be my last experience as a human being, I naturally asked my 14 year-old brother to meet in Conroe and join me. He agreed, because he is an adrenaline junkie and natural athlete. Then remembering this, I begin to wonder why I invited him. That means I will be compared to him, resulting in my embarrassment. Oh yeah, I invited him for family fun, but mostly because I was too scared to do this on my own. I needed as many other distractions as possible to fall victim to Libby’s camera lens.

Before we put the gear on and enter the water, Ronnie runs my brother and I through all the beginner basics. My little brother has a pleasant smile while listening, and I am sweating, trying to act casual. He tells us to use our core to guide our direction, among other helpful instructions that I didn’t quite hear because I was too busy mentally regretting not getting to tell everyone I loved goodbye…not to be dramatic. Ronnie asks who’s going first, and we both point at each other. I say that I am the oldest, therefore it is my birthright not to go first. Ronnie says this happens frequently, and many people resort to the best 2 out of 3 in rock-paper-scissors. I win the game, and my brother has to go first; I pump my fist in to the air with victory; I still have 20 more minutes to be eaten away by anxiety.

My dad is recording our every success and failure on his iPad, and (of course) my brother is a natural. I’m going to have to follow this. I should have gone first. “God, please let him drop his iPad into the lake before it’s my turn,” I pray. If I remember correctly, my little brother managed to stay suspended 6 feet above the water for about 45 seconds, so I’m setting the bar pretty low here for myself, because that’s just not gonna happen. When his session ends, they make their way toward us, my brother pulls himself onto the deck, and his face lights up as he exclaims, “That was SO much fun!”. He then starts to laugh at the look of fear on my face as I take the helmet from him and buckle my lifejacket.

Ronnie straps the jet board to my feet and tells me to hop off the pier, lying on my belly with legs straight out behind me while the jet board propels me across the top of the water. When my brother did this, gliding chest first with no effort, he looked exactly like Aquaman (if Aquaman wore a helmet). Libby said he looked like he was towing the jet ski. It was all very hilarious until it was my turn. And oh goodie, a small crowd has now gathered on the deck to watch.

The jet board is attached to a large hose, connected to his jet ski, which allows him to control your height above the water. The helmet has earphones and a speaker that lets you and Ronnie talk to each other the whole time, and I want to apologize in advance for the loud screams that will be right in his ear very shortly.

We make it a few hundred feet out into the lake, and then Ronnie says (to my detriment), “It’s time to get in the air.” He tells me to keep my legs straight, how to balance, gently press my toes in the board, and lean to turn. My first time up, and my ankles are at water level before I squeal and collapse. Each time, I get a few inches higher until my legs turn into noodles, and I fall gracefully into the water. Okay, maybe it wasn’t graceful, but it kept Ronnie and I laughing hysterically. This is fun, even if I know a deck of people are watching every time I get a face full of lake water. Free entertainment for them, so you’re welcome, people. Ronnie is very encouraging and tries to give me some pointers to maintain my balance and go higher. I feel like I am in a Mission Impossible movie, but Ronnie says I am less than a foot above the water. That can’t be right.

After about five minutes, it gets a little bit easier, a little more familiar. “What’s the highest you’ve gone?” I ask too loudly through the headset. “About 65 feet,” he replies in my ear and laughs at the face I make in reaction to this answer. 65 feet?! I think I would go into cardiac arrest. Because Ronnie promised a better photo-opp, we go closer to the deck, so I can humiliate myself one last time for the cameras. He may not have told me “good job” and “you’re a natural” like he did my brother, but I did receive slight validation when he said his stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

When we’re back on the deck afterward, I tell Ronnie, “This must be so fun when you’re actually good at it.” He replies, “Yeah, its like you’re a self-controlled roller-coaster. It’s the coolest feeling in the world.” With some more practice, I can only imagine how quickly my brother would pick up on it and be doing tricks in no time. This experience was very fun and entertaining, regardless of my dramatic premonitions. If your family is as giggly as mine, this will be immensely entertaining for everyone involved. My brother loved it and plans to go back with his friends ASAP, but I think next time I will be the one holding the iPad and videoing. Reflecting on this experience, it was absolutely what this piece is about—FUN. I would do this again and highly recommend to anyone who enjoys watersports and has better balance than I do. For a fun water experience with friends or family, visit HydroRockets on Lake Conroe, and contact Ronnie Fese at (832) 202-3612 to set up your fun HydroFlight session today!

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