Today marks the 110th anniversary of Louis Bleriot’s first-ever flight across the English Channel. For the occasion, former professional jetski pilot, real-life Norman Osborn, and French inventor Frank Zapata has tried to replicate the prouesse. The adrenaline junkie had planned to cross the 20 mile section in about 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, the one known as “the flying soldier” has failed, due to an unsteady sea. “We had practiced the manoeuvre dozens of time in harsher conditions, without meeting any problems” a technician, on site, stated. “The platform was two meters above the deck, every little boat movement was exaggerated”, he continued.
The Flyboard Air, developed by Zapata, features five mini turbo engines. Each of them can deliver up to 250 horsepower, individually. The device requires a high level of precision, especially when flying at high speeds.
Zapata — who invented the board — took off from Sangatte, just South West of Calais. He was headed to Dover. The trip, in total, was meant to be a fast one. As the daredevil flew at a speed of 140 km/h, the only catch was refueling. This was, in the end, what led the Frenchman to his misstep.
UPDATE: On August 4th, 2019, Zapata, on his second try, managed to fly across the English channel. The Frenchman, escorted by several helicopters, managed to refuel on a platform mid-way through the 35km segment he was crossing. His flight time was just shy of 20 minutes.