French inventor Franky Zapata took off from Sangatte, France on Sunday, landing in Dover, England 22 minutes later – completing the first-ever voyage across the English Channel on a hoverboard.
Reaching speeds close to 170 km per hour, Zapata used his Flyboard Air, a jet-powered hoverboard, to cross the distance of 35 km. An earlier attempt on July 25 had not been completed successfully, with the hoverboard crash-landing in the Channel and missing a refuelling platform by centimetres.
Following the July attempt, the inventor and his team re-strategised and chalked up a slightly different route for this flight.
However, Zapata, who has been working on the completion of this trip for over three years could not make a continuous trip. He was carrying only a 10-minute supply of fuel on his back and had to make a pit stop halfway for a new load of kerosene.
Escorted by three helicopters, Zapata glided across the water to reach the other side where dozens of onlookers and journalists waiter. “We made a machine three years ago and now we’ve cross[ed] the Channel,” he told the BBC after landing.
The craft is propelled by five turbines and can reach speeds of up to 190 km per hour. It runs primarily on kerosene, a full bag of which can keep the hoverboard in the air for 10 minutes.
Zapata rose to fame after he flew over the July 14 Bastille Day military parade in France, this year. He already holds the Guinness World Record for the farthest hoverboard flight, a 2.2-km trip over the Mediterranean Sea in April 2016, reported the AFP.
“It was hard,” the Frenchman told Sky News, explaining that the flight took him six months of very hard physical training and maximisation of technological finesse.
Social media celebrated Zapata and his team’s success generously. While some said this was the film Back to the Future 2 in real life, others wondered when food delivery brands such as Uber eats were planning to acquire the technology.