This Sunday, French inventor Franky Zapata successfully crossed the English Channel on a jet-powered freeflight flying device propelled by turbines and attached to his feet, called Flyboard Air. The 22-mile (35-km) journey took 22 minutes with one refueling about halfway to Dover, England. This success came on the second attempt by the inventor to cross the Channel. This device was invented three years ago and could reportedly serve military assault or logistics purposes.
The flight started at 8:17 a.m. local time (0617 UTC) in Sangatte and finished in St Margaret’s at Cliffe near Dover. Zapata flew across the water at over 100 mph (161 km/h). The inventor carried a backpack with kerosene (paraffin} and was escorted by three helicopters. Zapata also made one landing on a boat mid-channel to refill the kerosene fuel in his backpack, a process Zapata described as being tricky because the boat could not be kept still in the moving waters of the Channel.
“Once I managed to stick my heels into the boat, I knew I had done 90% of the work,” Zapata told French news channel BFM TV.
Strong winds over the Channel presented difficulty during the crossing, Zapata said, adding it required much endurance to manage to stay airborne. “It’s an isometric exercise for the thighs, so it burns — it’s quite hard.”
Upon arrival, Zapata told reporters, “We made a machine three years ago… and now we’ve crossed the Channel, it’s crazy.”
This was Zapata’s second attempt to cross the Channel on the Flyboard Air. On July 25, which was the 110th anniversary of the first plane flight across the Channel by pilot Louis Blériot, Zapata fell into the water after a low-speed collision with the resupply boat.
The inventor previously presented the device at the Bastille Day military parade earlier this year. In that instance, he had been holding a rifle in his hands to show the invention could be utilized for military purposes.
Franky Zapata also invented the original Flyboard, which is propelled by jets of water drawn up by a hose, unlike the Flyboard Air, which uses jets of air.
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