French "flying man" fails to cross Channel on jet-powered hoverboard

French

What just happened? The inventor of the "Flyboard Air" jet-powered hoverboard has seen his attempt to ride the device across the English Channel end in failure.

After careful preparations, Franky Zapata took off from the French coastal town of Sangatte fastened to the small flying platform he designed. He'd planned to make the 22-mile journey in around 20 minutes, with a quick stop on a boat to refill his power pack with kerosene, the Associated Press noted.

Franky Zapata fell into the sea as he attempted to land on a vessel to refuel halfway across the Channel.

The inventor adds that the attempt had a 30 percent chance of being pulled off, with Zapata noting that it took him 50 to 100 hours to get comfortable simply standing up on the system.

"So, we fell", said Zapata, who appeared at a news conference hours later looking disappointed but in good spirits.

In a tribute to past aviation heroes, the 40-year-old has picked the day that marks 110 years since pioneer Louis Bleriot made the first airplane flight across the Channel on July 25, 1909.

Due to waves the platform hit the flyboard while Zapata was landing and overbalanced him before falling into the sea, he said.

Stéphane Denis, a member of Mr Zapata's support team, said: "It is a huge disappointment".

"I think it was just a case of a few metres, even a few centimetres", said the mayor of Sangatte, Guy Allemand, after the mid-Channel mishap was confirmed. Zapata was supposed to land, throw off his backpack carrying the fuel and strap on another backpack with enough fuel to make it to St Margaret's Bay near Dover.

Franky Zapata, a former jet-skiing champion, aims to soar above the Channel "like a bird" in the crossing from northern France to southern England, in a scene likely to resemble a science fiction film. The beach where Zapata took off bears Bleriot's name. "It is a boyhood dream", he told reporters ahead of the flight.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the defense ministry is looking at ways to integrate Zapata's invention into the country's armed forces.

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