Paris Crowds Astonished by Man on Hoverboard

Inventor Franky Zapata wowed the crowds with his Flyboard
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2019 10:49 AM CDT

The Bastille prison was stormed via land in 1789 during the French Revolution. Sunday's commemoration of it involved the air in the most attention-grabbing of ways. French inventor Franky Zapata soared over astonished crowds in Paris on his turbine engine-powered Flyboard Air prior to the start of the military parade. The AFP reports he carried a rifle as he did so, "in a sign of the possible military uses of his device."

Indeed, CNET reports the French military last year gave Zapata a €1.3 million grant ($1.46 million in today's dollars) related to the device. Gizmodo adds that Zapata in 2017 said he was partnering with the US military as well; Gizmodo's piece looks at shortcomings of hoverboards in terms of military use (among them, cost and safety issues) and how the Flyboard intersects with those concerns. The device has a current maximum run-time of 10 minutes, during which it can fly as fast as 118mph. In 10 days, Zapata plans to attempt a crossing of the English Channel, a feat which will require him to refuel during flight. (More Bastille Day stories.)

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