France’s ‘flying man’ succeeds in Channel crossing

French ‘flying man’ Franky Zapata has successfully crossed the Channel today on his jet-powered ‘flyboard’, on his second attempt at the feat.

4 August 2019
By Connexion journalist

Mr Zapata took off from Sangatte, near Calais (Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France) at 5h17 French time today (Sunday August 4), and landed in St Margaret’s Bay, Dover, in England - a journey of 35.4 km.

The trip took around 23 minutes, with Mr Zapata managing to maintain an average speed of 160-170 kph, according to his own estimate.

The flying board, officially named a Flyboard Air, is about the size of a skateboard, and has five turbines to propel it forward. It is powered by kerosene - which is held in the rider’s backpack - and can reach speeds of up to 190 kph.

Video: Flavien Bellouti / France 3 Hauts-de-France / YouTube

This is the second Channel-crossing attempt by Mr Zapata, who is a former world jet-ski champion. On July 25, his first attempt ended after he accidentally fell into the water during a mid-trip refuelling manoeuvre.

Soon after being rescued, he pledged to make the necessary repairs to the board, and make another attempt.

Today, Mr Zapata used a larger boat for the refuelling manoeuvre, to try to ensure he would not fall again. The boat was also positioned slightly differently, and Mr Zapata planned to land at a different angle.

Before the crossing, he said that he was “much more likely to succeed this time than the last”, and explained: “We are going to position the boat in a different way towards the waves. I will land on the platform with another trajectory.”

After today’s successful trip, he joked to waiting journalists: “I am tired; I need a holiday.”

Mr Zapata’s current flyboard first came to public attention on July 14 this year, when he took part in the annual Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) parade in Paris.

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