A bird? A plane? French inventor flies over English Channel | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

A bird? A plane? French inventor flies over English Channel

Associated Press
1499123_web1_1499123-89d09231a03a4e01b7c7ba2c9048b66c
PA via AP
French inventor Franky Zapata lands near St. Margaret’s beach, Dover after crossing the Channel on a flying board Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019.
1499123_web1_1499123-52fc0e0da1064b428132801bd69314e9
PA via AP
French inventor Franky Zapata lands near St. Margaret’s beach, Dover after crossing the Channel on a flying board Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019.
1499123_web1_1499123-1971530e026d44a7a4a48800c372b227
PA via AP
French inventor Franky Zapata flies near St. Margaret’s beach, Dover after crossing the Channel on a flying board Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019.
1499123_web1_1499123-cfc64268e44041908b3f1b3c15bd5768
AP
Franky Zapata, a 40-year-old inventor, takes to the air in Sangatte, Northern France, at the start of his attempt to cross the channel from France to England, aboard his flyboard, Sunday Aug. 4, 2019.
1499123_web1_1499123-55e260fb110e4318be06919fa0177486
AP
Franky Zapata, a 40-year-old inventor, takes to the air in Sangatte, Northern France, at the start of his attempt to cross the channel from France to England, aboard his flyboard, Sunday Aug. 4, 2019.
1499123_web1_1499123-317e73ed37dd48079bb5948465a1f99b
AP
Franky Zapata, a 40-year-old inventor, takes to the air in Sangatte, Northern France, at the start of his attempt to cross the channel from France to England, aboard his flyboard, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019.

SANGATTE, France — Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a French inventor flying over the English Channel on his hoverboard.

Looking like a superhero, Franky Zapata successfully completed the famed 35-kilometer (22-mile) journey in just 22 minutes Sunday morning, reaching speeds of up to 177 kilometers per hour (110 mph) on the hoverboard that has made him a household name in France.

Propelled by a power pack full of kerosene, Zapata set off from Sangatte in France’s Pas de Calais region and landed in Saint Margaret’s Bay in the Dover area of southeast England. He stopped only once, on the British side, to refuel his invention from a boat in the choppy waters.

“I tried to enjoy it and not think about the pain … I’m very lucky,” he told reporters after the feat.

It was, of course, the record for such a trip: No one else has tried to cross the channel in his way.

It was also a personal record — the furthest distance that the 40-year-old, who drew nationwide attention after whizzing above European leaders in Paris at Bastille Day celebrations, had ever traveled atop his hoverboard.

The wind in the Channel, especially gusts, presented a major challenge, he said, adding that he bends into gusts but is destabilized if the wind quickly dies.

Sunday was the inventor’s second attempt to cross the Channel.

His first — 10 days ago — culminated in him colliding with a refueling boat several minutes into his flight. That destroyed his transportation, a version of the flyboard that his company sells commercially.

Zapata told reporters that this time he was “scared to touch down” at the refueling station on the sea but knew his team “whatever happened, wouldn’t let me fall into the water.”

He said he and his team worked around the clock to pull off the feat.

“All week, we worked 16 hours a day … we worked like crazy,” he said.

French maritime authorities said the refueling operation was dangerous, even though Zapata nixed his initial plan to refuel the power pack he wears during his flight from a flying platform.

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.