FRENCH inventor Franky Zapata made history as the first person to cross the English Channel by a jet-powered hoverboard, taking off on August 5 from Sangatte on France’s northern coast and touching down near Dover, England.
The elite jet skier’s daring display over the 22-mile (35.4 km) channel between France and the U.K. took just over 20 minutes. It seems nobody else has ever tried to cross the body of water by hoverboard, which in Zapata’s case was powered by a backpack full of fuel.
“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling happy, I’m feeling lucky. This is just an amazing moment for me,” Zapata said after landing
The 40-year-old set off on his Flyboard from Sangatte in the Pas de Calais region on the northern coast of France at about 6.17am for the 22-mile (35km) journey to St Margaret’s Bay, beyond the white cliffs of Dover.
Escorted by three helicopters, he completed the crossing in 22 minutes, reaching speeds of up to 110mph (177km/h) flying 15-20
High in the sky
The hoverboard moved quickly — almost immediately after takeoff, Zapata rose high in the sky and blasted forward, standing up on his invention as he faded off into the distance above the water. The crowd clapped as they saw him off from the beach.
Zapata’s hoverboard was powered by a backpack containing enough paraffin to keep him airborne for about 10 minutes, which he had to stop to refuel halfway through the journey. “I’m feeling happy … it’s just an amazing moment in my life,” he said following his touchdown in Britain. “The last 10% [of the flight] was easier … because I had the time to look at the cliffs.”
Zapata said the strong winds in the Channel had posed one of the biggest challenges, explaining his technique of bending into gusts. He said there was a risk of being
During his first attempt – on the 25 July to coincide with the 110th anniversary of the first crossing of the Channel by plane – the former jetski champion fell into the sea as he tried to land on a vessel to refuel.
A member of his team said the movement of the waves required perfect timing and the landing platform had shifted a few
Speaking ahead of his journey, Zapata said he was concerned his team had not had enough time to repair the machine after it was damaged in the first attempt. They reportedly worked 15-16 hours a day to get it ready for Sunday’s trip.
“Normally we test the machines for several weeks before big events. Here, it’s a little bit worrying to be using a machine that has just been rebuilt,” he said.
He said the flight involved high levels of physical endurance. “It’s an isometric exercise for the thighs, so it burns – it’s quite hard. But you recover quickly, it’s not like riding a bicycle,” he said.
“Your body resists the wind, and because the board is attached to my feet, all my body has to resist
Isometric exercises are contractions of a particular muscle or group of muscles. During isometric exercises, the muscle doesn’t noticeably change
They can be useful, however, in enhancing stabilization — maintaining the position of the affected area — since muscles often contract isometrically to aid in stabilization
The feat felt especially sweet
The accomplishment probably felt especially sweet because a previous attempt last month ended dramatically. Zapata attempted to land on a platform on a boat to refuel in the middle of that journey but ended up plunging into the water.
This time, Reuters reported, he used a larger boat and a larger platform.
This type of hoverboard isn’t Zapata’s first invention. One of them, called a Flyboard, enables users to fly out of the water and up into the air, shooting out jets of water and even doing flips.
His flying car by the end of the year
Flying Frenchman Franky Zapata intends to unveil a flying car by the end of the year. The 10-turbine flying car that would be easy enough for anyone to pilot, without requiring the physical strength and long hours of practice to master the Flyboard, Zapata believes.
“We expect to have the
Zapata has been developing his hoverboard for the past three years, undeterred by losing two fingers in its turbines during its maiden flight in his garage near Marseille.
He delighted crowds in Paris on 14 July – Bastille Day – by flying over a military parade on the Place de la Concorde in the presence of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
His Flyboard has also attracted the attention of the French military, which in December gave Zapata’s company, Z-AIR, a €1.3m (£1.19m) development grant. He has said his invention wasn’t quite ready for military use because of the noise it makes and the hours required learning to fly it.
Zapata eventually hopes to use his hoverboard to fly much higher, something that would require him to carry a parachute, guidance equipment and possibly an oxygen tank. He is also developing an idea for a flying car.
Asked if he considered himself the successor of Louis Blériot, who made the first
Guinness World Record holder
The son of a construction contractor, he was always passionate about mechanics. Zapata worked out how to make his jet-skis more powerful, Lagaf said.
“Stuntman, pilot, entrepreneur, inventor—I’m not sure what I am, a little bit of everything and nothing at the same time,” Zapata said recently.
He already holds the Guinness World Record for the longest hoverboard flight, a
Zapata has been working on the hoverboard for the past three years, despite losing parts of two fingers during its maiden flight in his garage near Marseille, when they got sucked into the turbines
“He couldn’t distinguish between the yellow and red buoys indicating the route on the right or on the left,” his friend and former rival Vincent Lagaf, told Franceinfo. “So he stayed in second or third place to follow the others until the last lap, then he went all out to win.”
Isometric training may also be helpful to someone who has arthritis, which could be aggravated by using muscles to move a joint through the full range of motion. As people with arthritis perform isometric exercises and their strength improves, they may progress to other types of strength training. Strength training may help reduce pain and improve physical function.