Back to the Future II predicted we’d have flying hoverboards by 2015. When that year finally came along, we got self-balancing scooters that spontaneously burst into flames instead, and for reasons still unclear, decided to call them hoverboards.
But now, Frenchman Franky Zapata — a modern Phileas Fogg — is looking to right that wrong. You might remember Zapata as the father of hydroflight; his company built the Flyboard, which uses water-jet propulsion to send a rider close to 50 feet in the air. They also released a levitating jet ski last year, which employs a similar technology.
But Zapata wants his dominion to extend to the skies, too. In 2016, he first debuted the gas turbine-powered Flyboard Air, traveling 1.4 miles by air, a Guinness World Record for a hoverboard flight. There was radio silence for a while on the development, until a couple weeks ago, when he flew the Flyboard Air over Paris as part of the city’s Bastille Day celebrations. And this Thursday, Zapata is going to attempt the unthinkable; a flight across the English Channel.
For starters, this thing looks legit. He’s legitimately f*cking flying in that video, and has got a Tony Stark/Green Goblin vibes vibe going on (let’s hope, for our sake, he identifies with the former). Apparently, though, his flight in Paris only used 3 percent of the hoverboard’s flight capabilities. A journey over the Channel, meanwhile will require it to max out and use 99.9 percent of its capabilities. He doesn’t even think he can do it; Zapata estimated he’s got about a 30% chance of completing the trip.
If he does land safely in Dover, it’ll only take 20 minutes. The Flyboard travels at speeds of 87-mph, and is backed by five turbo engines that produce 250-horsepower each. Good luck, Franky.
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