Frank Zapta

Hoverboard Attempt Fails Halfway across English Channel

A Frenchman flew the first non-stop flight over the English Channel 110 years ago. On Thursday, July 24th, another Frenchman attempted to repeat that feat using a jet-powered hoverboard. It did not go well.

The hoverboard was not one of those silent, sidewalk hugging, gravity defying skateboards like in Back To The Future, or  Marvel’s Silver Surfer’s board. It is much louder and harder to handle, which jet ski champion-turned-inventor Franky Zapata recently discovered. He launched the Flyboard Air above Paris’s Bastille Day festivities while carrying a rifle.

He seemed to have everything properly tested and ready for the crossing, according to an article on, but Zapata gave himself about a 30% chance at completing this first very attempt to fly such a craft across the English Channel. It turned out to have a flight-ending issue during a landing for fuel. As he approached the last few feet, the landing platform kicked up and bumped the craft and knocked Zapata into the chop of the channel according to the BBC.

That was only the beginning of a very scary few moments, because Zapata could not remove his helmet, which began filling with water. Zapata said he had to gulp down water to get enough space in the for a bubble of air and a breath in his lungs. A thrilling 10 minutes in the air above the Channel turned into long moments of a near death experience. He managed to finally get the helmet off and rescue crews retrieved him.

“So, we fell,” Zapata told The Washington Post, later looking disappointed but in good spirits. “We’ll do it again,” he said, in “a matter of days.”

The Frenchman was making headlines as far back as 2016 with his project, setting flight records on the southern coastline of France.

When he tries again, if he is successful, we may see another film with the title Viva Zapata.