The French inventor of the jet-powered hoverboard soared over the English Channel despite wind gusts Sunday, becoming the first to cross the channel in such a futuristic way after failing in his first attempt last month.
Franky Zapata reached speeds of 110 mph to complete the 22-mile journey on his flyboard that began in Sangatte — in France’s Pas de Calais region — and ended in St. Margaret’s Bay, beyond the white cliffs of Dover, in southeast England.
The trip took around 22 minutes.
“I’m feeling happy … It’s just an amazing moment in my life,” he said in English following his touchdown in Britain. “The last 10% (of the flight) was easier … because I had the time to look at the cliffs.”
Zapata tried crossing into England last month but fell into the sea halfway through his journey after attempting to refuel. The platform in the water he was supposed to land on was rocking too much because of waves and he was unable to grab hold of it, eventually falling into the water.
Propelled by kerosene, Zapata was able to refuel Sunday from a boat in choppy waters. He said it was no easy feat, given that his leg muscles were “burning” during the flight.
“Your body resists the wind, and because the board is attached to my feet, all my body has to resist to the wind,” he told reporters. “I tried to enjoy it and not think about the pain.”
He initially wanted to refuel while on the flying platform, but those plans were nixed.
Zapata told reporters this time he was “scared to touch down” at the refueling station on a boat “whatever happened,” his team “wouldn’t let me fall into the water.”
“All week, we worked 16 hours a day … we worked like crazy,” he said.
Rosie Day, a 17-year-old at the British landing site, was impressed by Zapata’s flying skills.
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“I was surprised by how quick he was. It was really impressive how fast he came in and the agility of his movements,” she said. “He was very smooth.”
The trip was the furthest distance Zapata has flown on the hoverboard. The 40-year-old drew national attention in France after flying above European leaders at Bastille Day celebrations last month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.