French television is reporting that a man who tried to cross the English Channel on a homemade “flyboard” has failed in his attempt.
Franky Zapata’s journey was cut short when he tried to descend for a refueling stop about halfway across the Channel but fell in the water.
After careful preparations, aviation buff and inventor Zapata took off Thursday from the French coastal town of Sangatte fastened to the small flying platform he designed. From afar, it looked like he was skateboarding on the sky.
He hoped to make it across 36 kilometers to the Dover area in southeast England in about 20 minutes. He was carrying a power pack full of kerosene, and was planning to refuel from a boat partway across.
Zapata, 40, wowed crowds in Paris on Bastille Day, whirling over European leaders on the flyboard. But crossing the windy, ship-filled Channel is a much tougher challenge.
He scheduled Thursday’s flight to coincide with the 110th anniversary of the first flight across the Channel, by French aviator Louis Bleriot on July 25, 1909 - who also left from Sangatte after multiple failed attempts. The beach where Zapata took off Thursday bears Bleriot’s name.