Hoverboarder Completes English Channel Crossing

Over the past week and a half or so, we’ve been keeping a close eye on French inventor Franky Zapata and his attempt to ride a hoverboard of his own design across the English Channel. He had hoped to have accomplished that feat back on July 25, but a botched attempt to refuel mid-flight ended up sending him into the water instead. Yesterday, he gave it another go however, this time finding the successes he was looking for.

Traveling aboard his own Flyboard Air hoverboard, it took Zapata a little more than 20 minutes to cross the Channel, including a successful stop for fuel this time out. At times he reached speeds in excess of 102 mph (164 km/h) as he cruised along at between 65 and 160 feet (20-49 meters) above the water. This allowed him to go from Sangatte in France to the finish line at St. Margaret’s Bay on the south coast of England with little difficulty.

The only real challenge came when he once again had to stop to refuel. The Flyboard only has a flight time of about ten minutes, as its multiple jet engines consume power at a rapid pace. When he attempted the crossing back in July, Zapata missed the landing pad by a few centimeters and ended up in the drink. As a result, he had to work nearly round the clock to get the hoverboard ready for flight again so soon. On his second attempt he used a larger boat as his target for refueling. Completing the landing without difficulty, he was back in the air in a matter of moments and arriving in St. Margaret’s Bay a short time later.

Zapata undertook this English Channel flight as a tribute to the first such flight between the U.K. and France, which took place 100 years ago. He also managed to set a world record for the longest hoverboard flight in the process, breaking his own record set a few years back. All told, he covered about 21 miles (35 km) during the 20-minute journey.

As for what’s next, Zapata says he needs some time off to rest and recuperate, but then he hopes to get to work on a project building a flying car. His Flyboard has generated interest from the French military as well, so the work of a busy inventor is never done.

Kraig Becker