Franky Zapata, known as the “Flying Frenchman,” became the first person on Sunday to cross the English Channel on a jet-propelled hoverboard.
The Telegraph reported that Zapata, who took off in Calais, France and landed in Dover, England 23 minutes later exclaimed, “This feels magnificent.”
Zapata flew across the 22-mile Channel moving at an average speed of 87 mph approximately 50 feet above the water on a hoverboard he designed himself. The hoverboard was fueled by a backpack containing kerosene to keep him in the air for about 10 minutes. He stopped to swap backpacks on a boat which took approximately two minutes.
Mr. Zapata was accompanied by three helicopters, while ships from the French Navy were on lookout as the Channel is a major shipping route between the U.K. and mainland Europe.
The “Flying Frenchman,” originally from Marseille, enthusiastically stated that this flight luckily had no problems, and he wanted to thank his supporters.
“Thanks so much to my team, and my wife. For the last five or six kilometres I just really enjoyed it. Whether this is a historic event or not, I’m not the one to decide that, time will tell. We made a machine three years ago… and now we’ve crossed the Channel.”
Zapata, 40, is a former jet ski champion and army reservist who tried this feat before and got sidelined when he fell into the sea when trying to refuel 10 days ago.
On Sunday, his team said the weather was perfect, and his “Flyboard” was repaired from the last effort and ready to go. The daredevil believes that his invention will be game-changing for the military, and the feeling when flying is something out of a dream.
“We created a new way of flying. We don’t use wings. You are like a bird. It is your body that’s flying. It is a boyhood dream. We want to follow a little bit in the footsteps of the pioneers of aviation.”
The Verge stated that after his last attempt to cross the English Channel, Zapata and his team tweaked his route and made his refueling platform larger for his landing at the midpoint. He invented the original Flyboard in 2011, and then the Flyboard Air powered by turbojets.
While Zapata has been working on his invention in France, British inventor Richard Browning has developed a jet suit on the other side of the channel. With Browning’s invention, a person can fly with six turbo-engines strapped to their arms.