How a French inventor crossed the English Channel with one short refuel and in 22 minutes on a hoverboard.
The French inventor of the jet-powered hoverboard soared over the English Channel despite wind gusts Sunday, becoming the first to cross the channel in such a futuristic way after failing in his first attempt last month.
Franky Zapata reached speeds of 110 mph to complete the 22-mile journey on his flyboard that began in Sangatte – in France’s Pas de Calais region – and ended in St. Margaret’s Bay, beyond the white cliffs of Dover, in southeast England.
The trip took around 22 minutes.
“I’m feeling happy … It’s just an amazing moment in my life,” he said in English following his touchdown in Britain. “The last 10% (of the flight) was easier … because I had the time to look at the cliffs.”
French inventor Franky Zapata prepares to land near St. Margaret’s beach, Dover Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. Zapata has successfully flown over the English Channel on a personal flying machine. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)
Zapata tried crossing into England last month but fell into the sea halfway through his journey after attempting to refuel. The platform in the water he was supposed to land on was rocking too much because of waves and he was unable to grab hold of it, eventually falling into the water.
“I tried to enjoy it and not think about the pain.”
— Franky Zapata
Propelled by kerosene, Zapata was able to refuel Sunday from a boat in choppy waters. He said it was no easy feat, given that his leg muscles were “burning” during the flight.
“Your body resists the wind, and because the board is attached to my feet, all my body has to resist to the wind,” he told reporters. “I tried to enjoy it and not think about the pain.”
He initially wanted to refuel while on the flying platform, but those plans were nixed.
Zapata told reporters this time he was “scared to touch down” at the refueling station on a boat “whatever happened,” his team “wouldn’t let me fall into the water.”
The jet-powered hover-board used by French inventor Franky Zapata to cross the English Channel to Dover on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)
“All week, we worked 16 hours a day … we worked like crazy,” he said.
Rosie Day, a 17-year-old at the British landing site, was impressed by Zapata’s flying skills.
“I was surprised by how quick he was. It was really impressive how fast he came in and the agility of his movements,” she said. “He was very smooth.”
The trip was the farthest distance Zapata has flown on the hoverboard. The 40-year-old drew national attention in France after flying above European leaders at Bastille Day celebrations last month.