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Date TimeAugust 04, 2019
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French inventor Franky Zapata has successfully crossed the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard
An inventor nicknamed the “flying Frenchman” on Sunday became the first person to cross the Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard barely larger than a tea-tray. “This feels magnificent,” said a triumphant Franky Zapata after he touched down in St Margaret’s Bay in Kent, just 23 minutes after taking off from Sangatte beach in Calais to cheers and shouts of “Go Franky, go”. He flew across the 22-mile Channel at an average speed of 87 mph, about 50 to 65 feet above the water, on his self-designed hoverboard, powered by five turbojets. It was fuelled by a backpack containing enough kerosene to keep him airborne for about 10 minutes. He stopped to swap backpacks on a boat in mid-Channel, which took no more than two minutes.  The 40-year-old’s first attempt had ended in failure when he tumbled into the sea while trying to refuel last month. This time, the refuelling boat was bigger and the landing area was larger. Frenchman who has spent years developing a jet-powered hoverboard will again try to zoom across the English Channel on August 4 Credit: AFP/Getty Images The French maritime authorities granted permission to keep the boat in French waters, which they had refused to do last time, citing safety concerns. Mr Zapata had blamed that decision for his initial failure. This time he was escorted by three helicopters while French navy ships kept an eye out in case of mishaps on one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. “There were no problems,” he said after reaching the picturesque bay where dozens of supporters and journalists were waiting. “Thanks so much to my team, and my wife,” said the former jet ski champion and army reservist from Marseille. “For the last five or six kilometres I just really enjoyed it. Whether this is a historic event or not, I’m not the one to decide that, time will tell. We made a machine three years ago… and now we’ve crossed the Channel.” Breaking into tears of joy, he added: “It’s crazy.” Franky Zapata stands on his jet-powered "flyboard" next to helicopters as he arrives at St. Margaret's Bay in Dover, on August 4, 2019 Credit: AFP His team had been racing to repair his “Flyboard” after it was damaged when he crashed 10 days ago. Before his successful crossing, Mr Zapata said he feared that the hoverboard might develop “a little problem” as there had been no time to put it through prolonged tests, which he would normally have done before “a big event”. The weather was perfect, with a calm sea, hardly any wind and temperatures just above 25 degrees C.  Mr Zapata hopes his device will eventually be used as a revolutionary piece of military equipment. “We created a new way of flying,” he said. “We don’t use wings. You are like a bird. It is your body that’s flying. It is a boyhood dream. We want to follow a little bit in the footsteps of the pioneers of aviation.”

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