In the final days of July 2019, a French inventor by the name of Franky Zapata attempted to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard. Unfortunately, he fell into the water while trying to land on a boat-mounted refueling station.
He took flight from Sangatte, France, near the northern port of Calais with 42 liters of kerosene in his backpack, which is estimated to be enough for about ten minutes of flight. His plan was to strap on a new backpack on a boat that was waiting at the Strait of Dover.
Making his approach to the refueling boat, he hit the landing platform with his flyboard, which threw him off balance and knocked him into the water. His team member Stéphane Dennis admitted that it was “a huge disappointment.”
Attributing the fall due to the waves in the channel, Dennis said that Zapata “had practiced this maneuver in heavier seas without problems, but now, at the most important moment, it failed. Today was the 110th anniversary of Bleriot’s flight. It would have been a poignant moment.” Luckily, no harm befell Zapata and he intends to try again as soon as possible.
Zapata’s hoverboard attempt was for the French army, which gave him a 1.3 million euro grant to develop the product. He showed what the hoverboard could do on France’s July 14 Bastille Day when he flew over a military parade.
One of his reasons for wanting to fly over the channel is because of Louis Bleriot, a French pilot who was the first to fly over in an airplane in 1909. He wants to feel the same kind of satisfaction.