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Inventor Crashes into English Channel on Hoverboard

In a world's-first attempt, French product designer Franky Zapata had a mishap while trying to traverse a 22-mile stretch.

I know for a fact that we’ve all wondered whether someone could successfully fly across the English Channel on a homemade hoverboard. I mean… right? We’ve thought about that?

Well, the short answer is no… you cannot. Or, not yet anyway.

Yesterday, French inventor Franky Zapata took his “flyboard” to the French coastal town of Sangatte and hit the skies, attempting to be the first person to cross the Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard. The endeavor was scheduled on the 110th anniversary of the first airplane flight over the channel, and Zapata set out via the beach named after the pilot, Louis Bleriot.

Zapata and his device, dubbed the “Flyboard Air” might feel a little familiar, and that’s because he gained international attention a few weeks back when French President Emmanuel Macron Tweeted footage of the sky surfer flying over a parade in honor of Bastille Day. Oh, and he was carrying a rifle, which people had mixed feelings about, reportedly in order to emphasize the military potential of the board.

He must have been flying high on the exposure because he didn’t wait long to attempt to cross the channel on Flyboard Air, which can reportedly reach speeds of 60 miles per hour.

The section Zapata chose to traverse is 22.4 miles wide and though he carried a kerosene pack to help power the board, he was expecting to stop halfway through to refuel. Unfortunately, that’s when the problems occurred. In attempting to land on a boat to gas up, he missed the platform due to movement caused by choppy waves and, instead, fell into the sea.

He was rescued by divers and is reportedly fine. Zapata’s wife told the Associated Press that he would try again because “he never sits back after a failure.” Or maybe somebody else will try? According to Zapata’s company – Zapata Racing – it only takes 20 hours of training to teach a pilot to be proficient at using the vehicle.

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