In Brian McMahon’s youth, Evel Knievel caught his attention. But McMahon’s fascination with speed and risk passed as he grew into manhood, a career and a family.
Now 55, McMahon rekindled his adventure-seeking a few years ago. High-speed UTV (utility terrain or utility task vehicle) driving and going airborne gave him a thrill. He liked the sensation and stimulation.
Maybe it was a little bit of a midlife crisis, he speculated — but maybe he just rediscovered that Evel Knievel allure.
A trip to the Ozarks introduced him to flyboarding, a jet-ski-fueled flying experience. Reaching heights of 30 feet and flying above the water at speeds close to 20 mph, the appeal was overwhelming.
Last summer, McMahon — who founded and owns Associated Staffing, Inc., in Grand Island — had the opportunity to buy some gear from a resort that abandoned a rental business because of the cost of liability insurance. Too much risk, apparently.
McMahon wasn’t deterred. He brought home a flyboard and a hoverboard and began mastering the skills on area sandpits.
Sometimes passersby would see him popping above a tree line and stop to watch. What daredevil doesn’t love an audience?
Jason Olderbak, 29 and a fellow UTV’er, bought right into the new thrill sport.
“I hang out with younger guys,” McMahon said. “Most people my age don’t want to do this.”
McMahon and Olderbak introduced McMahon’s daughter Brittney, 25, to flyboarding and hoverboarding at an area sandpit. The two men got the gear set up and took a turn to limber up to make sure all systems were go.
Earlier, the trio made their first skydives, and Brittney was eager to continue the adventures. She was home for a visit from Los Angeles, where she has been living for a year.
Part of her motivation to climb on the flyboard might have been a bit of sibling rivalry. Her sister, Michaela, had taken the plunge, and even executed a backflip.
Brittney stepped into the boots and jumped off the dock. Dad was at the throttle of the jet ski, which controls the power to the flyboard.
Brittney was up in a few seconds. A bit tenuous at first, she quickly learned that her slightest movement quickly sent the board off in a new direction.
Some of the landings were, well, less than graceful, but she soon mastered the basics. Stand still and add power, you go up to heights of 30 feet or more. Lean left, you go left. Right to go right, and too far forward, you will make a high-speed dive.
On her second outing, she was ready to attempt the back flip. She would let the water jets elevate her and then suddenly lean back. And flip she did.
If you check online videos, you’ll see boarders doing back flips and ending upright without entering the water.
Brittney didn’t quite achieve that, but came close as she practiced and gained confidence.
Olderbak took a turn pursuing the hoverboard, which looks like a snowboard. He managed long, sweeping arcs that impressed onlookers.
Brian McMahon took another turn and did his best imitation of a dolphin. He would go forward, dive under the water, and pop back up for a repeat performance. It was like a sandpit version of SeaWorld.