Franky Zapata just flew his own invention, the Flyboard Air, an impressive 2,252 meters (7,388 feet). He achieved his feat off the coast of Sausset-les-Pins in the south of France on Saturday (April 30, 2016).
While the hoverboards of Back to the Future fame (disappointingly) failed to get their predicted 2015 launch, there has been some progress. Companies like Lexus and ArcaSpace have developed inventions that are really close to actual hoverboards. And each day brings us ever closer.
In fact, there is even a Guinness World Record for the farthest hoverboard flight ever, set when Canadian Alexandru Duru flew for 275.9 meters (905 feet). But that record just got shattered. Hard.
Franky Zapata, French jet ski champion, just broke Duru’s record. Zapata flew his own invention, the Flyboard Air, for an impressive distance of over 2,252 meters (7,388 feet). He achieved his feat off the coast of Sausset-les-Pins in the south of France last April 30.
Zapata and his company, Zapata Racing, has been developing many different water-propelled devices, including the original Flyboard, which connects to a personal watercraft turbine with a long hose.
In contrast, the Flyboard Air uses an “Independent Propulsion Unit” to fly hose-free for up to ten minutes. According to the company, the Air can reach a maximum height of nearly 3050 meters (10,000 feet), and has a maximum speed of 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour).
In a lead up to the event, a short video of a test flight of the Flyboard Air went viral, amassing over 3 million views on YouTube. Many doubted the authenticity of the video (we were highly skeptical ourselves).
But on the morning of April 30, he shattered all doubts.
Around 200 people gathered to see Zapata play Green Goblin at the small seaside city near Marseille. After a brief systems test, Zapata climbed on to the Flyboard Air and prepared for take-off. He first skirted the coastline for 6 or 7 minutes. He flew roughly 30 meters (100 ft) above the water and reached a top speed of around 70 km/h (44 mph), before heading into the port of Sausset-les-Pins for landing.
“This has really been a life’s work,” he told reporters at a press conference following the flight.