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
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

LOOK: Bastille Day hoverboard hero's bid to cross English Channel flops

By Pol O Gradaigh Time of article published Jul 25, 2019

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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.


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