LOOK: Bastille Day hoverboard hero's bid to cross English Channel flops
Paris - French inventor Franky Zapata, whose high-speed
hoverboard flight wowed Paris crowds on Bastille Day, failed on
Thursday in an attempt to cross the English Channel.
Zapata fell into the Channel after his Flyboard Air hit the
boat-mounted platform he was trying to land on for a midway
refuelling stop, an aide, Stephane Denis, told broadcaster BFMTV.
Zapata was quickly fished out of the water, unhurt but "very
annoyed," Denis said.
Zapata won a Guinness World Record for the longest ever hoverboard
flight in 2016, at almost 2.3 kilometres.
According to his website, the Flyboard Air, powered by several small
kerosene-fuelled engines, has reached speeds of 140 kilometres per
hour and heights of 150 metres.
But the crossing from Sangatte, near Calais on the French side of the
English Channel, to Saint Margaret's Bay near the English town of
Dover, would have been more than 30 kilometres.
Franky Zapata, "Le Rocketman", a 40-year-old inventor, performs a training flight over the Saint Inglevert airport near Calais, Northern France. Picture: Michel Spingler/AP
Television footage showed small crowds gathered in Sangatte as Zapata
climbed onto a metal platform and then soared noisily off over the
sea, wearing a backpack with fuel for his invention.
Franky Zapata is anchored to his flyboard, a small flying platform he invented, taking off from Sangatte, in France's Pas de Calais region, and flying to the Dover area in southeast England. Picture: Michel Spingler/AP
Zapata, a former jet ski champion, won attention worldwide after his
Bastille Day display when he hovered and swooped over Place de la
Concorde in central Paris during this month's Bastille Day parade.
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🇫🇷🇩🇪 Eindrücke der Militärparade zum #14Juillet, zu der Frankreichs Präsident @emmanuelmacron Kanzlerin #Merkel und andere Europäer heute in Paris begrüßt hat. --- Impressions from the military parade on 14 July, to which French President #Macron welcomed Chancellor Merkel and other Europeans to #Paris today.
A post shared by Angela Merkel(@bundeskanzlerin) on Jul 14, 2019 at 4:25am PDT
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and
other European leaders were among the dignitaries in the reviewing
Merkel included a clip of his performance in a video posted to her
official Instagram account.
Franky Zapata, a 40-year-old inventor, takes to the air in Sangatte, Northern France, at the start of his attempt to cross the channel from France to England. Picture: Michel Spingler/AP
Zapata's invention was initially viewed sceptically by French
authorities, but the armed forces then took an interest, leading to
the Bastille Day display.
Defence Minister Florence Parly predicted that the military could
test uses for the Flyboard Air "such as a flying logistic platform or
even an assault platform."
It was "not by any means just a gadget," Parly said on Bastille Day,
although she admitted that it could possibly do with quieter engines.