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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
The crossing was Franky Zapata's second attempt, and he managed it successfully this time in just over 20 minutes
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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