French inventor Franky Zapata takes off on a Flyboard to cross the English channel from Sangatte in France to Dover, in Sangatte. Picture: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

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.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders were among the dignitaries in the reviewing stand. 

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.

dpa