When Newport Beach native Dave Purcell heard that Jetlev Southwest President Dean O'Malley was about to fly Saturday from Newport to Catalina Island on a jetpack, he wasn't about to miss it.
His friend — Christine Heck, 60, who was at the M Street pier where O'Malley took off at 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."
That is until Saturday. According to online reports, the 36-year-old achieved his goal of setting a world record for longest jetpack flight by reaching Catalina Island about four and a half hours after departing from Newport.
O'Malley's flight coincided with the 100-year anniversary of aviator Glenn L. Martin's flight from Newport to Catalina Island. 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 jetpack's sides, which is how the device operates.