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French 'flying man' Zapata fails in Channel hoverboard attempt

Pascal Rossignol, Reuters | Franky Zapata gets ready for take off on a flyboard from Sangatte to Dover, in Sangatte, France, July 25, 2019.

A French inventor failed in his attempt on Thursday to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard when he missed a refuelling platform mounted on a boat, a member of his technical team said.


Franky Zapata was making his attempt on the 110th anniversary of the first powered flight between Britain and France.

"It is a huge disappointment. He made his rendez-vous with the refuelling boat but he must have missed the platform by just a few centimeters," a member of his team said on BFM television.

Zapata was unharmed, he added.

"We practiced this manoeuvre dozens of times in heavier seas, with platforms that moved more, without any problems," the technician said.

"It wasn't the wind, it was the waves". The platform was two meters above the deck, every movement of the boat is exaggerated."

Standing on the hoverboard powered by five small jet engines, Zapata took off from Sangatte, France at 0706 GMT and had hoped to reach to Dover in about 20 minutes, flying at up to 140 kilometres (87 miles) per hour at an altitude of between 15 to 20 metres.

He disappeared from spectators' view within moments, trailed by a helicopter. Minutes later his team announced he had failed to land on the ship to take on more fuel.

Zapata wowed crowds during France's July 14 Bastille Day celebrations, flying over a military parade on Paris' Place de la Concorde in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Zapata, a champion on jetski-powered waterboards, steers his craft by leaning forward or backward and controls thrust with a throttle connected to his 1500 horsepower board.


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