The Flying Water Tube
In 2005, a new product hit the shelves. It was a water sports product allowing people the opportunity to fly over the water hitting speeds of 20 to 30 miles per hour.
If you’re here considering the use of the flying water tube, then I’m here to provide you with the following:
• A Brief History
• How The Flying Water Tube Works
• What Happened to The Flying Water Tube (because something did happen)
• Can You Still Buy Them?
• The Best Water Tube on the Market
Tubing has been a common sport across the globe for centuries. It has provided people with the sporting fun of riding in-tow and being swung around.
It even became a common theme in the snowy Alps of Europe in the early 1800’s. People would ride up, down, round and across the mountains on inflated tubes being dragged along by snow-mobiles.
But, for water sports you had the waves of water providing riders with fun-filled air on a sunny day. People have been known to use the water tube over lakes, rivers and seas across all of the US and Canada. Then, the flying water tube was introduced for the dearedevilto catch even more air.
Later known by many different names such as the kite tube or the flying manta ray, the flying water tube was created by SportsStuff for the thrill-seeker. Sold as the Wego Kit Tube, it was specially designed to allow the – more commonly used – water tube to take flight while being pulled by a speedboat at a certain speed.
How Does the Flying Water Tube Work?
The flying water tube was a circular floatation device that was made for up to three people to sit on top but commonly it was for the lone rider. They would then be towed by a boat.
While in-tow, the flying water tube was designed to be travelling at around 20 miles per hour. However, many of the commercial speedboats that were carrying customers would often travel faster in order to get a quicker lift. Some reaching speeds of 30 miles per hour.
The lift of the flying water tube would occur when the person riding on it, pulled on the handles.
It was designed based on the idea that air travelling under the flying water tube would catch and cause an airfoil. To increase this, manufacturers developed tubes for the air to travel through as well as a more streamlined and aerodynamic shape. This allowed the flying water tube to fly higher and longer than any other water tube on the market.
As with most other water tubing sports equipment, the water tube was manufactured using brightly coloured flexible PVC plastic and rubber making them not too dissimilar to what you would find today for other water sports.
When released in October of 2005, this product was designed for fun and was highly praised upon its arrival – even winning the “Sports Product of the Year” award from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
However, it quickly became evident that the product was not safe for use and needed to be removed from the market.
There were many injuries resulting from the use and miss-use of the flying water tube. There were even two deaths recorded in the US in June of 2006. Injuries from the kite tube were as follows:
• Broken Neck
• Punctured Lungs
• Cracked Ribs
• A Concussion
• Injuries to the Back
• Injuries to the Chest
• Injuries to the Face
• Losing Consciousness
• Broken Vertebrae
• Ruptured Eardrums
Accidents were linked to reasons such as the weather, the weight of the rider, the lack of control that the rider had, the height that the flying tube was able to fly and the speed of the vehicle towing the kit tube, itself.
For example, as with the airfoil process, the faster the speed boat was travelling with the flying water tube, the higher the tube would fly. This height could reach altitudes of up to 30 feet. For a size reference, this is approximately the length of two 5-door cars.
It was falling from these heights that would cause the injuries and deaths of so many individuals across the US and Canada. The Manta Ray, or the kite tube, of the flying water tube – however you want to call it – was never built with safety in mind.
And, with this, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered the recall of the flying water tube in July of 2006. Swiftly afterwards, it because illegal in many places to use the water sports product.
Can You Still Use the Flying Water Tube?
The legality of the flying water tube is different depending on the location. There are many states where it is still not illegal. But, it is certainly frowned upon and they are hard to come across.
With manufacturers voluntarily pulling the product from their shelves, the flying water tube has become a very rare sporting product. They are still available in some regions online but through classified advertisements.
The flying water tube sport has – essentially – died, but that doesn’t mean all water tube sports have. The water tube, itself, remains a common part of water sports. You’ll typically find them at holiday destinations and beaches across the globe.
As well as this, there are still the options for snow tubing and summer tubing down artificial slopes. Everything that is still available and on the market for enthusiasts and consumers today are much more safe to use and still as much fun!
Check out some of the best-rated water tubes currently on the market. I personally recommend the SportsStuff Super Mable, which you can find on many sites, some even offering free shipping:
• Jobe Lunar 3
• SportsStuff Super Mable
• Stunt Flyer
• Airhead Mach 2
• SportsStuff Booster Ball Towable Tube
So, to conclude, I highly advise against any of the flying water tube options that are available. Just so you can stay safe.
As well as this, alike any water sports out there, outside or inside of the US and Canada, it is always important to wear the right PFD (personal floatation device) so that you can stay safe and keep breathing.
For more information about PFD’s, how to use them and what to expect, check out my other articles “What is the Best Way to Check the Buoyancy of your PFD?”, “How do Self-Inflating Life-Jackets Work?” and “Do Life-Jackets Expire?”.
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