French inventor crosses English Channel on hoverboard


A Frenchman has crossed the English Channel on his jet-powered hoverboard after falling into the sea on his first try.

French inventor Franky Zapata has succeeded in crossing the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard he designed, after a previous attempt ended with him falling into the sea.

Standing on a platform powered by five small jet engines and carrying kerosene in a backpack, Zapata took off from Sangatte, just outside Calais in France at about 0617 GMT on Sunday, trailed by three helicopters.

Franky Zapata lands near St Margaret's beach, Dover.
Franky Zapata lands near St Margaret's beach, Dover.

He reached Britain just over 20 minutes later, waving to onlookers before landing safely in Saint Margaret's Bay, close to Dover on Britain's southern coast, according to French television images.

"For the last five to six kilometres I just really enjoyed it," Zapata told reporters on arrival. "Whether this is a historic event or not, I'm not the one to decide that, time will tell."

Franky Zapata in the air.
Franky Zapata in the air.

"We made a machine three years ago ... and now we've crossed the Channel, it's crazy," he said, before breaking into tears.

Zapata's biggest challenge was refuelling with another backpack halfway through the 35km journey across the Strait of Dover, which required landing on a platform mounted on a boat.

On his first attempt to make the crossing on July 25, Zapata was knocked off balance in the process and fell. The inventor used a bigger boat and platform this time.

Zapata, who wowed crowds during France's Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 by soaring over a military parade in Paris on the device, said on arrival that the hoverboard had reached speeds of 160 to 170km/h during the crossing.

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