What just happened? After failing on his first attempt, the French inventor of the Flyboard Air jet-powered hoverboard has achieved his dream of crossing the English Channel on his device.
Two weeks ago, Franky Zapata said that he would be making the 22-mile crossing while flying 50 to 65 feet in the air and traveling at an average speed of 87 mph. But the first effort saw him fail when, as he came in to land on refueling vessel at the halfway point, waves caused the landing platform to shift slightly, causing Zapata to miss “by a few centimeters” and plunge into the water.
Not one to give up after the first attempt, Zapata quickly announced he would try to cross the body of water again, this time using a larger refueling boat, and in French waters— which French maritime authorities had previously disallowed.
Yesterday, the forty-year-old, escorted by three helicopters, completed the journey from Sangatte, which is near Calais, France, to St Margaret’s Bay in Dover, UK, in 20 minutes. This time, he successfully landed halfway across the Channel to refuel his kerosene-filled backpack.
“For the last five to six kilometers I just really enjoyed it. Whether this is a historic event or not, I’m not the one to decide that, time will tell.”
Zapata said the winds in the Channel were one of the main obstacles. He said if they stopped suddenly, there was a risk the hoverboard would destabilize. The inventor also explained the physical demands of the trip.
La seconde tentative a été la bonne #manche deux. 22 minutes de plaisir pour la traversée de la manche. #merci #france #teamzapata @krystelzapata This morning i cross the english channel #jobdone Crédit : reportage @bfmtv #merci #flyboardair #famille #familyaffair #jetsuit #entrepreneur #jetpack #entrepreneur #onremetca #wedidit
“It’s an isometric exercise for the thighs, so it burns – it’s quite hard. But you recover quickly, it’s not like riding a bicycle,” he said.
“Your body resists the wind, and because the board is attached to my feet, all my body has to resist to the wind. I tried to enjoy it and not think about the pain.”