After ending up in the water on his first attempt, flying Frenchman Franky Zapata has now successfully crossed the English Channel on his jet-powered Flyboard Air. The 22-mile (35.4-km) crossing took Zapata some 22 minutes, holding speeds over 100 mph (160 km/h).
Zapata again had to stop half-way through the trip, landing on a boat for a quick fuel-up, which he accomplished by switching one big kerosene-filled backpack for another, then flew on to complete the impressive undertaking early on a recent Sunday morning, according to the BBC.
Three helicopters kept watch over Zapata’s attempt, which, along with other regular flights from Jetpack Aviation’s David Mayman and Gravity Industries’ Richard Browning, are doing plenty to prove the reliability and controllability of turbine-powered personal flight devices.
As for whether these devices will be hitting the market soon, that’s a tougher question. Apart from the obvious risks involved, there’s the astonishing noise level you get when you fire up multiple high-speed jet turbines, and a lot of heat to deal with below the engines. This is manageable with the higher-mounted devices, but Zapata typically brings an elevated metal platform with him so the Flyboard doesn’t scorch the grass or melt any tarmac.
For the moment, though, it’s beyond incredible just to watch these mad personal aviation pioneers soar through the air and develop their machines.
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