French Inventor Hoverboards Across the English Channel, Manages Not to Crash This Time

Image: Michel Spingler ( (AP)

We all know that age-old adage: if you don’t succeed, try, try again. Sometimes you’ve just got to pick yourself up by your bootstraps, get back on your hoverboard, and give crossing that English Channel another go.

After Franky Zapata wiped out mid-way through his inaugural attempt last month, the French inventor finally completed the journey on his second try Sunday, the Guardian reported, turning the possibility of hoverboard invasion into a completely valid fear.

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You can check out Zapata’s flight—or rather, hover—in the video below:

The 40-year-old military reservist used his self-designed Flyboard to make the 22-mile trip, stopping halfway to refuel the supply of kerosene strapped to his back that was powering his flight (the device can only run for 10 minutes; otherwise France would have conquered the world by now). Zipping between Sangatte, France and Dover, England took him all of about 20 minutes. Eat that, Marty McFly.

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“We made a machine three years ago... and now we’ve crossed the Channel, it’s crazy. Whether this is a historic event or not, I’m not the one to decide that, time will tell,” Zapata told the BBC after completing his sojourn straight out of science fiction.

He’s been tinkering with the technology for this Flyboard model for three years (a water-powered hoverboard he invented in 2011 shared the same name) in part with the help of a French military grant he received last year totaling roughly $1.4 million. Last month, Zapata also dazzled onlookers when he buzzed around at this year’s Bastille Day military parade wielding a hopefully unloaded rifle, prompting France’s armed forces minister to posit the gizmo could be used “as a flying logistical platform or, indeed, as an assault platform,” according to a Guardian report.

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But if you’re worried about an invasion of hoverboarding supersoldiers, fear not: Zapata also said in 2017 he was working with the U.S. military creating a similar device for combat. Hopefully, they’ll have figured out the 10-minute flight limit by then, otherwise we’ll have a Vine-length World War 3.

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About the author

Alyse Stanley

Nights and weekend reporter, Gizmodo.