You are here

French 'flying man' fails to cross Channel on jet-powered hoverboard

Mr Zapata's hoverboard is powered by five small jet engines. It can take him 15 to 20m into the air at a speed of 140kph. He was to have flown from from Sangatte, France to Dover in about 20 minutes.

Sangatte, France

A FRENCH inventor failed in his attempt on Thursday to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard when he missed a refuelling platform mounted on a boat, a member of his technical team said.

Franky Zapata was making his attempt on the 110th anniversary of the first powered flight between Britain and France.

A member of his team told television reporters: "It is a huge disappointment. He made his rendezvous with the refuelling boat, but must have missed the platform by just a few centimetres."

Mr Zapata was unhurt, he added.

Your feedback is important to us

Tell us what you think. Email us at

"We practiced this manoeuvre dozens of times in heavier seas, with platforms that moved more, without any problems," the technician said.

"It wasn't the wind, it was the waves".

The platform was two metres above the deck of the boat, so every movement of the vessel was exaggerated."

Standing on the hoverboard powered by five small jet engines, Mr Zapata took off from Sangatte, France at 0706 GMT (just after 3pm Singapore time) and had hoped to reach to Dover in about 20 minutes, flying at up to 140 kph at an altitude of between 15 to 20m.

He disappeared from spectators' view within moments, trailed by a helicopter. Minutes later, his team announced he had failed to land on the ship to take on more fuel.

Mr Zapata had wowed the crowds during France's July 14 Bastille Day celebrations by flying over a military parade on Paris' Place de la Concorde in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Zapata, a champion on jetski-powered waterboards, steers his craft by leaning forward or backward and controls thrust with a throttle connected to his 1,500 horsepower board. REUTERS

BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to