French ‘Flyboard’ Inventor Crashes Into English Channel During Record Attempt

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This week a French inventor known for earlier impressing French President Emmanuel Macron — when his ‘Flyboard Air vehicle’, a fast and highly maneuverable jet-powered hoverboard, was successfully tested at a military ceremony marking Bastille Day — attempted to fly across the English channel on his high tech device

Franky Zapata made the attempt Thursday, taking off via his jet-pack at around 9am local time from Sangatte in France, with a goal to complete the 22-mile journey in 20 minutes; however, he plunged into the sea, ending the short flight, when he tried to land on a platform set up at the midway point for necessary refueling. 

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The 40-year old was uninjured by the fall, which he attributed to the flyboard not being able to compensate for the choppy waves underneath, but the device itself will have to undergo repairs. 

“When I got closer to the platform, the boat took a wave and it hit the foot of the machine and broke it,” Zapata told reporters Thursday.

 “I could see the British borders,” he added, as he was only 11-miles from finishing the record setting flight set to end at St Margaret’s Bay, England. 

Assuming the necessary repairs can be made, he said he will attempt a second crossing of the  channel “as soon as next week.” Zapata was filmed early Thursday taking off from a French beach and disappearing into the horizon.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GnnoJ8obhU]

“When you fly with your body, even your hands affect the direction you want to go in. You feel the turbulence and the air through your fingers,” Zapata told CNN. “It’s like becoming a bird. But it’s also very hard. I have to fight against the wind with my legs so there’s pain too. It’s not as peaceful as it looks.”

Thursday’s flight coincided with the anniversary of French aviator Louis Bleriot’s famous first-ever flight across the channel in 1909.

Image source: AP

The large, bulky skateboard looking flying platform is powered by five small engines fueled by kerosene.

His initial plans for a “mid-air” refueling over the channel involving small amounts of kerosene was stymied by French authorities, so he was forced to make one large refueling stop on a platform in British waters, which is where he fell. 

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French President Macron had previously said he was “proud” of Zapata’s “modern and innovative” invention which marks a high tech contribution to the future of the French army. 


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