Jetpack World Champion – Jesse Orlando
Hydro Fest Jetpack Champion 2016
The first athlete we saw featured on The Surf Channel prior to Hydro Fest 2016 was Jesse Orlando and right away we liked this dude. Everything about Jesse is entertaining so it was no surprise that when he strapped in for his first Hydro Fest run he brought the Jetpack Division to a whole nother level. H2RO is excited to introduce you to the sports first ever Jetpack Champion but first have a look at his competition highlights.
H2RO MAGAZINE INTERVIEW WITH JESSE ORLANDO
H2RO) Jesse please share with our H2RO audience your background, the types of sports you grew up with and what you’re first introduction to Hydroflight was?
I was born and raised in the small town of Gloucester, Ma, where I spent the first 22 years of my life. Aside from one year of school in Vermont, I stayed on the island like most of the locals until it just wasn’t enough anymore. As far as sports, to be honest, I’ve never been very coordinated. I took more to the arts; acting, illustrating, music… Other than Jetpack America I work full time as a musician. (CHUGBOAT.com)
H2RO) What is it about Hydroflight and the Jetpack that hooked you and keeps you hooked?
Getting wicked super high dude.
H2RO) So Hydro Fest, I know you were having fun with your Surf Channel interviews and coming into the competition were pretty confident, what was your overall impression of the event now that it’s over and you did end up at the end of a long tube holding the trophy?
Wow. What an experience! I’ve been stoked on flying Jetpacks since I first strapped in, and for a while the circle was pretty small. I knew there was a bigger following for the Jetboard, and Jetovator was making waves, but until Hydro Fest I had no idea what kind of movement I was involved in! Being exposed to such a variety of support and passion has motivated me to push this farther and higher. Fly ABOVE the radar! Meeting icons like Ben Merrell, Damone Rippy, Brandon Landis…. Household names in Hydroflight – and flying side by side with them – it was all very humbling for me.
H2RO) What did you take away from your fellow competitors (in any division) at Hydro Fest that will inform your Jetpack flying as you continue to train and push the sport forward?
The commitment I saw in my peers was compelling. I thought the 6 hour drive from Diego was taxing, until I met Brandon Landis driving back to Florida alone. What a champ. These are the people that will take this movement worldwide.
H2RO) You had a really aggressive style and definitely the ‘hairodynamics’ going on hardcore, as someone who has not yet flown a Jetpack I’m interested to know what the physical challenges are when flying at a Pro level?
Let it grow man. Let it grow.
H2RO) Staying with Championship level flying, what are your favorite tricks to pull and where do you feel the next level of progression exists for the pack?
Backflips and accelerated downward corks are some of my favorite tricks right now. Every time I throw a big inverted cork, there’s this rush of uncertainty… I have no idea which way is up or down. I just throw it and hope! Timing and luck I guess.
The next level is going to depend on pack design. Where we’re at now, all the Jetpacks I’ve flown are 1st generation. This sport has progressed rapidly in just a few years, but most mods are with the Jetboards. I’ve been talking with some developers and brainstorming for a new “pro series” pack to keep up with the other disciplines. It should be lighter, less restricting, and more customizable. There’s even talk of individual nozzle thrust control!
H2RO) Let’s talk about the equipment. You referred to your set up as the ‘Frankenpack’ with Jetlev and X-Jetpacks components working together. What advantages did your set up provide you with and what should a manufacturer be looking to create in order to satisfy the top Jetpack competitors needs?
Like I mentioned before, we need a lighter, more maneuverable design. The placement of the Y pipe and current design limits directional manipulation to 1 axis. Aside from the pipe, the seat is outrageously uncomfortable. Something like a climbing or base jumping harness would make more sense for freestyling.
H2RO) I’m curious now that you’ve had a chance to see the top Jetboard and Jetbike athletes in the world fly in person what you thought of those divisions and who stood out and maybe inspired you with their flying?
Ryan Lorence of Flydive has the coolest style I’ve seen… he makes it look so fluid and natural. Ben Merrell (of course) really locks in his routine. Swizzle rocked hard too. The Jetbikes had some rad dudes, Jordan Finley had impressive control considering his size. Props to all those guys, and I know there’s more I’m forgetting…
H2RO) When we talk Jetpacks speed and racing them inevitably comes up because we know the popularity of motorsports and everyone loves a close race that can still give the audience a clear and instant winner. Beyond freestyle what competitive scenarios do you see the Jetpack experimenting with in the future?
Speed is limited with the current design. We’d have to find a way to reduce the drag before we could look into serious Jetpack racing. I’d like to see more obscure events in next years comp. Things like “ most spins in 30 seconds,” or “longest distance traveled underwater.” Maybe even an obstacle course, or a triathlon where the pilot has to switch equipment during the heat!
H2RO) Let’s switch gears for a second and talk music. You play guitar? Shout out your band and talk to us about that part of your life?
My true passion! Music has been a big part of my life and was an important outlet long before I gave up haircuts. My band CHUGBOAT goes for a newgrass-americana vibe. We try to give the crowd a good, hard folking. Really I’m just excited to be part of a group that gets people moving; my band mates are my best friends.
H2RO) I know there are going to be lots of people excited to learn how to fly a Jetpack from a World Champion so how can they connect with Jesse Orlando for a flight?
Come visit me in San Diego! I love sharing this activity with the world; anyone can fly.
H2RO) Let’s end with a tip for beginner Jetpack pilots. What are your two most important pieces of advice when you strap in and prepare to kiss the clouds and soak the crowds?
- Close your eyes
- Cross your fingers
Jesse it’s been great to meet you and see you fly. I might need to push you for a little more instructional help if I get out your way for a flight…lol.
Keep doing your thing and as both your skills and the equipment continue to progress we at H2RO can’t help but be totally stoked for the future of Jetpack competitions.
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