France’s Flyboard hero Franky Zapata failed in his attempt to cross English Channel

World News
Zapata CEO Franky Zapata (C) prepares before an attempt of a flight across the Channel standing on a jet-powered “flyboard” on July 25, 2019 in Sangatte, northern France. – 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. 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. (Photo by Denis Charlet / AFP) (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Some people swim the English Channel between Britain and France, others prefer to sail. French inventor Franky Zapata attempted to make the crossing on a jet-powered hoverboard — but failed about 11 miles from the finish line.

Former jet ski racing champion, Zapata, took to the skies Thursday on his Flyboard Air vehicle but missed a platform mounted on a boat as he tried to land midway for refueling. The 40-year-old was uninjured in the fall into the sea.

“When I got closer to the platform, the boat took a wave and it hit the foot of the machine and broke it,” Zapata told a press conference Thursday. “I lost balance, I fell in the water. The flyboard is damaged, the electronic part has to be redone, the motors are ruined but the base is saved,” he continued.

Zapata was about 11 miles away from the finish at St Margaret’s Bay, England. “I could see the British borders,” he told the press conference.

Not all is lost for Zapata though, as he hopes to make a second attempt to cross the channel “as soon as next week.”

At around 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), the daredevil took off from Sangatte in France. He was attempting to mark the 110th anniversary of the first aerial crossing of the Channel. Zapata hoped to make the 22-mile (35km) journey in 20 minutes.

Footage from his launch showed Zapata climbing up onto a platform in the French coastal town, stepping onto his flyboard and then flying off into the horizon.

The flyboard is powered by five small engines and it is fueled by kerosene, which Zapata carried 104 pounds of in his backpack, Agence France-Presse reported.

He was due to pick up a second pack of kerosene at the mid-Channel refueling stop.

At the Bastille Day parade on July 14 in Paris the inventor captured the world’s imagination when he took to the skies with the board that can reach an altitude of nearly 500 feet — with the potential to go much higher — and a speed of 87 miles per hour.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted a video of Zapata’s exploits. While the Bastille Day flight only used “3% of the machine’s capacity,” a successful crossing of the Channel will take “99.9%,” Zapata told CNN ahead of his Channel crossing. He warned that wind strength could be his biggest obstacle on Thursday.

Zapata said he believed he had a “30% chance” of making it across, and admitted to feeling greater pressure now that there is a lot more interest in his exploits.

“When you fly with your body, even your hands affect the direction you want to go in. You feel the turbulence and the air through your fingers,” Zapata said. “It’s like becoming a bird. But it’s also very hard. I have to fight against the wind with my legs so there’s pain too. It’s not as peaceful as it looks.”

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