French hoverboard pioneer attempts Channel crossing

27 Juillet, 2019, 00:22 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • French hoverboard pioneer attempts Channel crossing

French inventor Franky Zapata on Thursday plunged into seawater while making the bold attempt to cross the English Channel on his Flyboard Air, a jet-powered hovering device he created.

Zapata is reported to have fallen into the sea on the English side of the Channel and was rescued "conscious" by divers on the refuelling vessel. "He made his rendezvous with the refuelling boat, but must have missed the platform by just a few centimetres".

According to Zapata's team, he wasn't injured in the accident, but he was disappointed.

Zapata, 40, took off from the French coastal town of Sangatte with a flyboard, which he crafted, strapped to his feet. Flying at up to 140 kph (87 mph) at an altitude of between 15 to 20 meters he had hoped to reach to Dover in about 20 minutes.

He was due to pick up a second pack of kerosene at the mid-Channel refueling stop.

"I felt really great. It is a boyhood dream", he told reporters ahead of the Channel flight.

He set a goal of traveling about 87 miles per hour while moving 50 to 65 feet above the water when he took off about 9 a.m. local time. That's farther than he had ever traveled on his air-board.

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A member of the Frenchman's team said the movement of the waves required ideal timing and the landing platform had shifted a few centimetres as Zapata came down. He wasn't able to grab onto it, and he plunged into the sea.

Zapata winced as he described the "disaster". All Venekas mentioned to the Associated Press was that "the flight is canceled", and that Zapata "is doing fine".

"It's hard to swallow", he acknowledged.

You can see Zapata start his journey from Sangatte in the Sky News Twitter video below, and regardless of his failure, it is still impressive.

Mr Zapata received widespread attention following the annual Bastille Day parade in Paris earlier this month, when he took part in a military display on his futuristic flyboard. But crossing the windy, ship-filled Channel was a much bigger challenge.

The daredevil, who took off at around 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) from from Sangatte in France, was attempting to mark the 110th anniversary of the first aerial crossing of the Channel.

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