Home Opinion COLUMN: Zapata fulfills dream in hoverboard channel crossing

COLUMN: Zapata fulfills dream in hoverboard channel crossing

It must have been an impressive sight on Aug. 5 when 40-year-old Frenchman Franky Zapata crossed a 22-mile stretch of the English Channel on a hoverboard, escorted by helicopters and military ships.

Taking just over 20 minutes and reaching speeds up to 110 mph, Zapata refueled halfway across the channel. His route took him from northern France to Dover, England.

This trip was his second attempt at the flight, the first in July was not successful after Zapata didn’t make the refueling pad and had to be fished out of the water. The second attempt was made with a larger landing pad and boat to keep from repeating the same mistake. 

The hoverboard is fueled by a power pack full of kerosene.

You might think riding on a hoverboard is smooth flying, but according to Zapata it’s a strenuous activity. 

“It’s like becoming a bird,” he said in a Facebook post. “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.


“Your body resists the wind, and because the board is attached to my feet, all my body has to resist to the wind,” he continued. “I tried to enjoy it and not think about the pain.”

Hoverboards can fly over land as well as water. Zapata demonstrated his flying skills in the Bastille Day military parade in July.

A former jet-ski racer, Zapata has won several championships in his career. He is dyslexic and colorblind, but those challenges didn’t stop him from also working on the mechanical side of his machines in addition to piloting them.

Zapata says his hover board idea was originally inspired by the 1989 movie “Back to the Future II,” where, in 2015, hover boards existed. 

When 2015 came along and they didn’t actually exist, he took it upon himself to try to change that. His successful flight is “the achievement of a dream.”

Jaron Guinn is a Hamlet native and video game enthusiast.




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