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French daredevil crosses English Channel on hoverboard

August 05, 2019 08:31 IST
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Flying Frenchman Franky Zapata on Sunday became the first person in history to cross the English Channel on a kerosene-powered board not much bigger than a tea tray -– saying it 'feels magnificent!'.

IMAGE: French inventor Franky Zapata is the first man to cross the English Channel on a kerosene-powered hoverboard. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Zapata took off from Sangatte, northern France early on Sunday morning and landed in St Margarets Bay, near Dover in England. The journey took just over 20 minutes, according to Reuters news agency.


Zapata had been left hugely disappointed on July 25 when he failed in his first attempt to complete the same 22.4 mile journey.

IMAGE: Zapata crossed the 22-mile channel in 23 minutes while keeping an average speed of 87mph. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Speaking after landing in St Margarets Bay, near Dover in England, Zapata was quoted as saying, "I had the chance to land in an extraordinary place. It's beautiful. My first thought was to my family. It was huge. Thanks to my wife who always supports me in crazy projects. We worked very hard."

The inventor said that he tried to "take pleasure in not thinking about the pain," even though "his thighs were burning."

The self-styled ‘Flying Frenchman’ travelled at a speed of some 87 mph, staying at least 49 feet above the water.

IMAGE: The flight was his second attempt to cross the stretch of water between Dover and Calais after his first attempt on Wednesday last week failed as he crashed while refuelling at the halfway point. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The state-of-the-art device, which was built from scratch, resembled a souped-up tea tray and could reach an altitude of 10,000 feet. It was powered by five turbojet engines.

There was a maximum of 42 litres in Zapata’s backpack, meaning he once again had to refuel half way across the Channel. This meant landing on a boat, and swapping backpacks during a stop of no more than two minutes.

IMAGE: Zapata was accompanied by two choppers during his attempt to cross the English channel from Sangatte to Dover. Photograph:Yves Herman/Reuters

Last month, Zapata impressed the crowds at France's annual July 14 Bastille Day Parade where he zoomed through the air 50 ft above Paris's Place de la Concorde dressed as a soldier and brandishing a rifle.

IMAGE: The flying Frenchman told reporters after touching down that he was 'elated'. 'We made a machine three years ago,' he said before breaking into tears, 'and now we've crossed the Channel, it's crazy'. Photograph: Johanna Geron/Reuters

IMAGE: French inventor Franky Zapata's wife Christelle reacts after receiving news of her husband crossing the English channel. Photograph:Yves Herman/Reuters
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