Quantcast
Connect with us

French inventor to hover across English Channel on ‘flyboard’

Published

on

A French inventor aims to soar across the English Channel this week on a jet-powered “flyboard”, despite authorities warning the stunt is a danger to shipping.

Former jet-skiing champion Franky Zapata has pledged to go ahead on Thursday on his device, which can reach speeds up to 190 kilometres an hour (118 mph).

It will come 10 days days after the entrepreneur wowed crowds when he flew above the Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris in front of President Emmanuel Macron for the annual July 14 military parade.

ADVERTISEMENT

But authorities are divided over the daredevil venture, which will mark 110 years to the day since Frenchmen Louis Bleriot made the first aeroplane flight across the Channel.

While the civil aviation authority (DGAC) has approved the crossing from a beach near Calais to Dover in southern England — a distance of around 50 kilometres (30 miles) — local maritime authorities have urged against it on safety grounds.

“We wrote to him to express our disapproval of the project,” the local maritime authority in northern France told AFP last week.

“It’s an extremely dangerous area. We weren’t sure if he’d be able to fly over container ships. The Calais strait sees a quarter of the world’s traffic, including very large boats”.

– ‘Total nonsense’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

Zapata has been asked to alert maritime safety officers when he begins the crossing “so they can track him and respond to any problems at sea”.

The Marseille-born engineer, who carries the kerosene for the flyboard in a rucksack on his back, said the concerns were “total nonsense”.

“They let me fly 30 metres (100 feet) away from the President but now they’re talking about the risk of hitting a boat?” he told French TV channel BFM on Friday.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Even the maritime safety authority agreed (that)… there are a dozen slots during the day when there are no boats.”

Zapata launched his “Flyboard Air” in 2016, the latest addition to his eponymous brand, which includes a water-propelled hoverboard and a flying jet-ski priced at 4,500 euros ($5,000).

ADVERTISEMENT

The device is powered by five small jet engines and controlled by a handheld throttle, which Zapata activates to take off after strapping himself into a pair of boots attached to the board.

Features include “auto-hover mode” and “quick release boots” in case of an emergency landing on water, according to Zapata’s website.

– Military potential –

ADVERTISEMENT

The French government has praised the “Made In France” invention and even hinted at its military potential.

President Emmanuel Macron posted a video of Zapata’s stunt at the July 14 parade, with the caption, “Proud of our army, modern and innovative”.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told France Inter radio that the “Flyboard” “can allow tests for different kinds of uses, for example as a flying logistical platform or, indeed, as an assault platform.”

Zapata said the device can run autonomously for around 10 minutes, and that he would need to make a refuelling stop on a boat in English waters.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We were originally planning to refuel mid-flight but we had to change all that about ten days ago,” he told French TV channel BFM on Friday, explaining that French authorities had denied him permission to re-fuel in French waters.

A second boat will be waiting nearer the English coast “in case a second refuel is needed”, said Anna Venekas, a spokeswoman for Zapata.

The English Channel, a 34-kilometre (21-mile) stretch of water between France and Britain, has attracted daredevils before.

In 2010, America’s Jonathan Trappe crossed the Channel dangling from a bunch of helium balloons.

ADVERTISEMENT

And in 2003, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner — who went on to jump from the edge of space in 2012 — glided from England to France wearing an aerodynamic suit fitted with a six-foot carbon-fibre wing.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Two impeachment articles expected against President Trump: reports

Published

on

Democrats are expected to announce on Tuesday two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, US media reported Monday evening, after laying out their case at a hearing against a president they branded a "clear and present danger" to national security.

The articles will focus on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, The Washington Post said, citing three official familiar with the matter.

It added that the full House of Representatives would vote on the articles next week, ahead of a trial in the Senate.

CNN said a third article on obstruction of justice was still being debated, and the network's sources cautioned that plans were still being finalized.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Ambassador McFaul ‘shocked’ Trump invited Sergey Lavrov back to the Oval Office: ‘What are they thinking?’

Published

on

Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul repeatedly said he was shocked that President Donald Trump will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.

McFaul was interviewed Monday evening by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC "The Last Word," where he contrasted how Trump is treating the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin to the Ukrainian government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"Ambassador McFaul, I want to get your reaction to the Russian foreign minister meeting tomorrow at the White House, in the Oval Office, with President Trump," O'Donnell said. "That's his second time. President Zelinsky still hasn't gotten that meeting and Donald trump apparently, apparently may be voted articles of impeachment in committee this week because of his interactions with President Zelensky."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

House Judiciary to vote on Thursday to impeach Donald Trump: report

Published

on

Democrats are moving ahead with the impeachment of President Donald Trump following another day of testimony on Monday.

"House Democrats plan to unveil at least two articles of impeachment Tuesday, charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, according to multiple lawmakers and aides. The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the articles on Thursday, setting up a vote on the House floor next week to make Trump the third president in history to be impeached," Politico reported Monday evening.

"Democratic leaders plan to formally announce the articles at a press conference Tuesday morning. Judiciary Committee Democrats intend to meet ahead of the announcement and review the articles," Politico reported. "The decision to move forward with specific impeachment charges is the most significant move yet for the year-old Democratic House majority, a legacy-defining moment for Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sets up a Senate trial for Trump in early 2020."

Continue Reading