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Man's jet pack ride from O.C. to Catalina likely a record-breaker

The man who flew from Newport Beach to Catalina on a jet pack over the weekend might have set a world record.

Though it was impossible to confirm, Jetlev Southwest President Dean O'Malley's four and a half hour trip was said to have set a new record for length of a jet pack journey.

When Newport Beach native Dave Purcell heard that O'Malley was about to fly Saturday from Newport to Catalina Island on a jet pack, he wasn't about to miss it.

PHOTOS: Jetlev water-powered jet pack

His friend Christine Heck, 60, who was at the M Street pier where O'Malley took off about 7 a.m., said Purcell, 65, was like a little kid.

"I wanted to see it," Purcell said with excitement. "No one has ever done it before."

O'Malley's flight coincided with the 100-year anniversary of aviator Glenn L. Martin's flight from Newport to Catalina. Perhaps O'Malley's trek wasn't as historic, but it still left spectators impressed.

One minute O'Malley was standing with his feet planted on a boat, and the next he was magically lifted in the air with water gushing from the jet pack's sides, which is how the device operates.

"It's like Superman," one man shouted as O'Malley started flying. "We got Superman out."

Before making the 26.2-mile trip to Catalina, O'Malley flew ashore to speak with the handful of reporters, photographers and news cameras documenting his every move.

He too had a camera attached to his jet pack to record his journey to Avalon.

O'Malley said he decided to do it "to prove that it can be done."

O'Malley spent months practicing for his journey and treated it as if he were preparing to run a marathon.

"Fortunately, it's easier to fly than run," O'Malley said.

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--Mona Shadia, Times Community News

 
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