Ever since Marty McFly climbed aboard a hoverboard in “Back to the Future Part II,” people have been obsessed with the idea of a personal flying device. There have been multiple attempts to create hoverboards (including one by Lexus), but none have been viable, at least not until now.
After a failed attempt in July, French inventor Franky Zapata successfully crossed the English Channel on Sunday on a jet-powered hoverboard. Zapata completed the 22-mile journey aboard a device called the Flyboard Air in just 22 minutes, reaching speeds up to 106 mph along the way.
The Hoverboard Air uses four turbo jet engines for propulsion while a computer keeps the board stabilized. Zapata, who received $1.46 million from the French military to develop his hoverboard in 2018, wore a flight suit and helmet during his flight.
Although Zapata’s Flyboard Air successfully carried him from Sangatte, France to Dover, England, it wasn’t a non-stop flight. Because the Flyboard Air’s fuel tank is mounted on the rider’s back, it has a limited capacity, so Zapata had to swap out tanks mid-flight on a floating platform.
In fact, it was that mid-journey pitstop that caused Zapata’s failed attempt to cross the channel last month. Due to choppy water and a small landing zone, Zapata ended up in the water rather than on the refueling platform. For his latest attempt, Zapata changed his route and increased the size of the landing pad, according to The Verge.
“We made a machine three years ago…and now we’ve crossed the Channel, it’s crazy,” he told the BBC after landing safely.
This may not be the first time you’ve seen Zapata and his Flyboard Air in action. In mid-July Zapata wowed spectators as he flew over France’s Bastille Day celebration on the Flyboard Air while holding a gun. Zapata performed the stunt to show one possible use of the Hoverboard Air, one that isn’t as light-hearted as crossing the English Channel.
Watch Zapata take off and land in the video above.