Inventor to cross English Channel on jet-powered hoverboard

Samuel Osborne

A French inventor plans to cross the English Channel this week on a jet-powered hoverboard.

Franky Zapata, a former JetSki champion and army reservist, last featured his Flyboard during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris.

He plans to cross the channel on Thursday, the 110th anniversary the first aerial crossing of the Channel.

The 40-year-old intends to cross from Sangatte, a beach near Calais, to St Margaret’s Bay in Dover within 20 minutes.

He will need to refuel halfway, as the Flyboard has a flight time of only 10 minutes.

“It’s the culmination of a dream,” Mr Zapata told French newspaper Le Parisien, before admitting he was “very stressed”.

He said the Bastille Day demonstration was easy compared to his plan to cross the channel.

“I used 3 per cent of the machine’s capabilities while for the Channel, I will need 99.9 per cent,” he said.

“This will not be easy. I have a 30 per cent chance of getting there.”

Mr Zapata said he had obtained permission from civil aviation authorities, but not from the maritime authorities, who said his refuelling ship could pose a danger to container ships operating in the Channel.

He said he would adapt by flying 70m above the ocean on the French side of the channel, before dropping to 10m above the English side.

“The refusal multiplies the difficulty of the challenge by 10,” he said. “This decision is completely arbitrary.”

He said he had two options on how to refuel the Flyboard with kerosine: either by landing on a ship and refuelling or hovering above it, a more risky strategy which would allow him to claim a continuous cross-Channel flight.