Inventor to cross English Channel on jet-powered hoverboard

The former French military reservist known as the "flying soldier" will attempt to cross the English Channel this week on a jet-powered hoverboard.

Franky Zapata, who wowed crowds in France with a demonstration of his flyboard at the country's Bastille Day parade, wants to make the journey to mark the 110th anniversary of Louis Bleriot's first cross-channel airplane flight, according to The Guardian.

"It won’t be easy at all and I reckon I’ve a 30 percent chance of succeeding.”

— Franky Zapata

“It’s the realization of a dream,” the inventor told Le Parisien, adding that he was “very stressed.”

“I used 3 percent of the machine’s capabilities [on Bastille Day] and I’ll need 99 percent for the channel. It won’t be easy at all and I reckon I’ve a 30 percent chance of succeeding,” he said.

Zapata has said he expects to cross the channel, which ranges in width from 20 to 150 miles depending on the location, in about 20 minutes.

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Zapata CEO Franky Zapata flies a jet-powered hoverboard or "Flyboard" during the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue Avenue on July 14, 2019 in Paris, France. (Getty Images)

Zapata CEO Franky Zapata flies a jet-powered hoverboard or "Flyboard" during the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue Avenue on July 14, 2019 in Paris, France. (Getty Images)

The "flying soldier" told the French news outlet that he'd gotten approval from civil aviation authorities but not maritime officials, who said that stationing a ship to refuel the flyboard would pose a risk in the busy shipping corridor.

“We have advised against the crossing because it is extremely dangerous given the traffic in the Channel, one of the busiest (shipping) straits in the world,” the French maritime authority reportedly said.

“This has made the challenge 10 times more difficult,” Zapata said, adding that he will refuel once midway instead of twice as he had planned. “It’s a completely arbitrary and unreasonable decision.”

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Zapata CEO Franky Zapata flies a jet-powered hoverboard or "Flyboard" as French elite acrobatic flying team "Patrouille de France" flies over the Arc de Triomphe during the Bastille Day military parade down the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on July 14, 2019. (Getty Images)

Zapata CEO Franky Zapata flies a jet-powered hoverboard or "Flyboard" as French elite acrobatic flying team "Patrouille de France" flies over the Arc de Triomphe during the Bastille Day military parade down the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on July 14, 2019. (Getty Images)

During the Bastille Day celebration, French President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Angela Merkel and other leaders watched as Zapata flew high above the crowd brandishing a rifle.

According to The Guardian, Zapata's flyboard is powered by five mini turbo engines and can reach speeds of up to 118 miles per hour.

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