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Daredevil Inventor's 'Flyboard' Stunt Falls Short

Franky Zapata falls into sea on attempt to cross the English Channel
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2019 8:00 AM CDT
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Franky Zapata, a 40-year-old inventor, takes to the air in Sangatte, France, at the start of his attempt to cross the English Channel.   (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
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(Newser) – He wowed a French Bastille Day crowd earlier this month, but a daredevil inventor's attempt to cross the English Channel didn't go as smoothly. Franky Zapata fell into the sea Thursday while attempting to land on a boat to refuel his "flyboard." The 40-year-old is fine, though his attempted 22-mile crossing failed at the midway mark, reports the BBC. Zapata's invention is what CNN describes as a "jet-powered hoverboard"—it gets lift from five small engines powered by kerosene, which Zapata carries in his backpack. He was touching down to get a new backpack when he fell.

"It is a huge disappointment," says a member of Zapata's support crew, per Reuters. "He made his rendezvous with the refueling boat, but the landing platform hit the flyboard, which threw him off balance and knocked him into the water." The landing was especially tricky because of ocean swells, he adds. Zapata had been attempting to cross the channel in 20 minutes, and he chose Thursday because it's the 110th anniversary of the first powered flight between France and Britain. (Read more hoverboard stories.)

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