Franky Zapata, the inventor of the Flyboard Air, announced his intention to cross the English Channel on Thursday with his powered hoverboard, on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the first flight between Britain and France.
Zapata says he’ll fly between Sangatte and St Margaret’s Bay in a crossing that should only take around 20 minutes at speeds up 140 km/h (around 87 mph).
The crossing will be a challenge for the French inventor, who has already indicated that it took between 50 and 100 hours of practice on the company’s previous water-powered Flyboard to be able to stand on the jet-powered Flyboard Air.
Zapata said his last flight, a demonstration flight over the crowd on Bastille Day, had used about 3% of the capacity of the hoverboard, compared to 99.9% for the Channel crossing. He estimated his chances of success at around 30%.
The hoverboard itself contains five turbo engines, each of which are capable of producing around 250 horsepower. There are three parts of the machine; the board, a handheld remote control, and a fuel tank that Zapata wears on his back. The setup means that the Flyboard Air is only able to fly for around 10 minutes at a time, so Zapata will need to stop to refuel halfway.
The place where it will be refueled was contentious during the busy crossing. Concerns expressed by the French maritime authority mean that Zapata may only use one service station during the trip, instead of the two originally planned. Zapata will land on the ship to refuel or attempt to float on it, allowing a continuous flight.
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17 November, 2019