“Flying man” Franky Zapata fails to cross the Channel, falls at sea and is rescued


Franky Zapata, “the flying man” who took off on Thursday morning near the beach of Sangatte (Pas-de-Calais, France) standing on his “Flyboard”, failed to cross the Channel by falling into the sea at the moment when he had to refuel, before being rescued conscious.

© Benoît Denet

According to several sources, Mr Zapata fell into English waters right next to the kerosene refuelling boat and was rescued. A member of his team explained that the platform moved due to a wave when he was about to land. He was conscious when he was taken out of the water.

The Zapata team refused to explicitly confirm his fall.

To make this crossing of the Channel of about 35 km, 110 years after the exploit of Louis Blériot, Franky Zapata had to refuel his flying machine in kerosene on the English side, at 18 km of the French coast.

The 40-year-old Marseillais bet on a crossing of 20 minutes to reach the English coast in the area of ​​St Margaret’s Bay, flying at about 140 km/h and 15 or 20 metres above the water.

Around 09:05, he had taken off vertically, in a deafening roar, from a parking lot near the beach of Sangatte-Bleriot-Plage. In his black and red jumpsuit, his face concealed behind the visor of his black helmet, he disappeared in a few seconds on the horizon. Boats were to follow him to his landing near Dover.

The “Flyboard”, an autonomous flying machine powered by kerosene stored in its backpack, is equipped with five mini-turbojets that allow it to take off and evolve up to 190 km/h standing in the air, with autonomy about ten minutes. On July 14, the day of the French National Day, Franky Zapata had offered a breathtaking futuristic show at the traditional parade in Paris by flying standing several tens of metres above the ground on his “Flyboard”, the machine of his invention, above the Champs Elysees.


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