French Inventor Flies Across English Channel on Hoverboard
French inventor Franky Zapata completed the 35-km trip across the choppy waters of the English Channel in 22 minutes on 4 August,
French inventor Franky Zapata completed the 35-km trip across the choppy waters of the English Channel in 22 minutes on 4 August,Photo: Steve Parsons/AP

French Inventor Flies Across English Channel on Hoverboard

It’s not everyday that you get to see a man flying through the air on a hoverboard. And this one, flew right across the English Channel, from Sangatte in France’s Pas de Calais region to St Margaret’s Bay near Dover in England, a distance of 35 km, setting a world record for such kind of flight.

French inventor Franky Zapata completed the 35-km trip across the choppy waters of the English Channel in 22 minutes on 4 August, touching a top speed of 177 kmph during his flight.

The 40-year-old Zapata has been working on his invention, the flying jet-powered hoverboard, called an Airboard for a while now. He recently showed it off in mid-July at France’s Bastille Day celebrations, where he flew over the crowd, carrying a gun, showing how his invention could have military capabilities.

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Zapata had first attempted to cross the English Channel on 27 July. However, that attempt failed after he crashed into his refuelling boat in the middle of the channel. This time, however, he was lucky.

His hoverboard carries only 10 minutes worth of kerosene-based jet fuel and therefore he needed a mid-flight stop. A boat in the middle of the channel served as a refuelling platform. The total flight time from take-off till he landed in England was 22 minutes. He was accompanied by three helicopters tracking his flight, as he flew just metres over the surface of the sea.

Zapata says he controls the hoverboard, which is strapped to his feet, by leaning in the direction he wants to fly in. He has a single hand control for the jet’s throttle. The invention isn’t really a backyard one, like hundreds have tried before. Zapata received a 1.3 million Euro grant from the French government in 2018 to develop the machine.

Others such as English inventor Richard Browning of Gravity Industries has showcased a jet-powered suit that sort of has Ironman like flying capabilities.

Still, Zapata’s feat is remarkable because of the distance he managed to cover, across one of the world’s most famous water bodies.

This hoverboard is not yet commercially available and is unlikely to be anytime soon. But if it does come into the market, who all are buying one?

(With inputs from AP)

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