French 'flying man' Zapata successfully crosses the English Channel on hoverboard

French inventor Franky Zapata on Sunday succeeded in crossing the English Channel in 20 minutes on a jet-powered hoverboard he designed. He was forced to abandon a previous bid after failing to land on a refuelling platform and falling into the sea.

Denis Charlet, AFP | Franky Zapata stands on his jet-powered "flyboard" as he took off from Sangatte, northern France, on August 4, 2019, before he successfully crossed the 35-kilometre Channel crossing in 20 minutes.

Escorted by three helicopters, Franky Zapata was seen waving to onlookers before landing safely in Saint Margaret’s Bay, very close to Dover on Britain’s southern coast on Sunday morning, according to French TV images.

The five turbines on the former jet-ski champion’s craft propelled him at speeds of up to 190 kilometres an hour, powered by a backpack full of kerosene that could keep him airborne for around 10 minutes.

Zapata had failed during an earlier attempt and fell into the middle of the busy shipping lane on July 25. He did not manage to land on a boat waiting in English waters to give him a fresh pack of kerosene.

Zapata, who wowed crowds during France's Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 by soaring over a military parade in Paris on the device, said he had changed refuelling arrangements to give himself the best chance of a successful crossing.

'We took a bigger boat'

"I just want to do it this time, we changed the boat, we took a bigger boat and built a bigger platform," Zapata told a news conference on Saturday just outside the northern port of Calais.

Zapata was carrying enough kerosene in his backback to fuel the hoverboard for about 10 minutes of flight, and needed to strap on a new supply for the second leg of his journey.

He took off from France at around 0600 GMT and made a refuelling stop mid-way across the 35-km wide Strait of Dover.

A champion on jetski-powered waterboards, Zapata steers his Flyboard Air craft which flies at up to 140 km per hour by leaning forward or backward, and controls thrust with a throttle connected to his 1,500 horsepower board.

"I hope to see you in England, for another press conference," Zapata told reporters before taking off. "I hope I will be drier than last time."


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