Sunday, August 18, 2019

Men Who Lift Us Up

Franky Zapata surfing the clouds on his Flyboard Air.
(All photos in this post can be clicked to enlarge.)

"French inventor Franky Zapata has successfully crossed the Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard for the first time, after a failed attempt last month.

Zapata took off from Sangatte, northern France early on Sunday morning and landed in St. Margarets Bay, near Dover in England. The journey took just over 20 minutes, according to Reuters news agency.

'I had the chance to land in an extraordinary place. It's beautiful. My first thought was to my family. It was huge. Thanks to my wife who always supports me in crazy projects. We worked very hard,' he told CNN affiliate BFMTV...

The inventor captured the world's imagination when he took to the skies above Paris at Bastille Day parade in July with the board that can reach an altitude of nearly 500 feet -- with the potential to go much higher -- and a speed of 87mph."

- Excerpt from this August 4th CNN report. The photograph of Franky Zapata and his wife, Krystel, was found here.

"The 40-year-old set off on his Flyboard from Sangatte in the Pas de Calais region on the northern coast of France at about 6.17am for the 22-mile (35km) journey to St Margaret’s Bay, beyond the white cliffs of Dover.

Escorted by three helicopters, he completed the crossing in 22 minutes, reaching speeds of up to 110mph (177km/h) flying 15-20 metres (50-65ft) above the water. He arrived into the bay to the applause of dozens of onlookers and journalists.

Zapata has been developing his hoverboard for the past three years, undeterred by losing two fingers in its turbines during its maiden flight in his garage near Marseille."

- Sourced from this August 4th Guardian article. The image (inset right) was found here.

"Fantasy film aficionados would recognize Mr. Zapata’s invention. In “Spider-Man,” the Green Goblin sows terror from something very like the Flyboard Air that Mr. Zapata piloted across the channel. Marty McFly uses a similar vehicle in “Back to the Future 2.”

Defense Minister Florence Parly was equally taken by the machine. “Innovation is not a gimmick.” The hoverboard could serve as “a flying logistics platform, or an assault platform,” she suggested, conjuring an image of squadrons of individually airborne infantry descending on an enemy.

But not tomorrow. 'As it stands, the Flyboard Air has no operational use,' says Marion Lagu√ęs, spokeswoman for the French Defense Innovation Agency, a branch of the General Directorate for Weaponry, which is helping to finance the development of new, quieter jet engines.

Whether the Flyboard Air is indeed an aircraft or not is a question that nearly wrecked the whole project. French civil aviation bureaucrats grounded Mr. Zapata in 2017 because he had no pilot’s license and his experimental machine had not been certified."

- Excerpt from the article: Not just a toy: Channel-hopping hoverboard draws military’s eye.
Image (inset left) found here.

"His Flyboard has also attracted the attention of the French military, which in December gave Zapata’s company, Z-AIR, a €1.3m (£1.19m) development grant. He has said his invention wasn’t quite ready for military use because of the noise it makes and the hours required to learn to fly it.

Zapata eventually hopes to use his hoverboard to fly much higher, something that would require him to carry a parachute, guidance equipment and possibly an oxygen tank. He is also developing an idea for a flying car."

-  Excerpt and image (inset right) also sourced from the Guardian article linked to previously. Also, videos of Zapata's flight and be found on YouTube here and here.


As fate would have it, on August 4th of this year, while Franky Zapata was flying through French skies on his Flyboard Air destined for the White Cliffs of Dover, humans were dropping like flies on the western side of the Atlantic, victims to 4 mass-shootings.

Some men lift us up and some men take us down (literally). But, as I've already vented about the latter (here), in memory of Mac's birthday I thought I'd post something he'd love to see... and want for his very own! Well, okay, at $250,000 it's not something the average consumer can afford, and, chances are, navigating it looks much easier than it currently is. Moreover, the military or law enforcement sectors - i.e., where the money is - might embrace it, leading to this sort of thing. But, if the military decides to pass on the Flyboard Air, maybe the various space agencies of the world might find some use for it. I can easily envision the first humans on Mars utilizing it to scout the Martian terrain. (Well, provided gravity doesn't pose a problem, and after reading this, I still don't know!)

In any case, the best news is that Franky Zapata's next project is developing a flying car... and, while it seems that a number of prototypes for flying cars are already gathering dust, and a new tease occurs every year - here's last year's - something tells me that Z-Air's might be the first one to really take to the skies!


  1. And the visionaries shall lead us into a new may not be immediately, but in cumulative effort -- who knows what will emerge? This is the edge of tomorrow, today.

    I think you're right -- this is one of those things that serve to spice the imagination.

  2. Thanks for your input, BG! I was wanted to post something, um... uplifting. ;-)