Franky Zapata Flies Over Bastille Day Crowds

That's not the Green Goblin — it's inventor Franky Zapata on his Flyboard at Paris' Bastille Day celebration.

Flying Jet Ski Champ

As he took off on his hoverboard during Paris' Bastille Day parade on July 14th, 2019, Franky Zapata generated plenty of buzz according to the Zapata Industry. The 40-year-old Frenchman invented the device himself. He was courted by many countries, including the U.S., but wanted to develop his idea in France. And it was a success. The French Ministry of the Armed Forces backed its development to the tune of $1.46 million based on numbers from France Inter.

A jet-ski champion, Franky Zapata initially developed a water version of his floating board in 2011. The water hoverboard made him wealthy. In 2017, and his company’s annual revenues came to $9 million. In 2016, he developed his Flyboard Air. In 2017, he was summoned by the police and ordered to stop his tests because his device wasn’t “approved.” After being solicited by many foreign firms, he considered leaving France.

““This isn’t a toy, because it’ll allow to test out various uses. For example, a flying logistics platform or an assault platform. You’ll see that the element of surprise is considerable although further development still needs to be done, quieter motors, probably. But the effect, I hope, would be striking. The water comes out of the propulsion nozzles. That’s what propels the rider into the air. The first flight was 3 years ago. I lost 3 fingers…2 fingers, they were ripped off by the turbines and the machine crashed into the wall of my workshop. So that was actually the first flight. After that, I really had to negotiate with my wife before she’d let me get back on it. But I couldn’t help it. When I saw the machine fly, I realized it was what I had to devote my life to, I had to see it through to the end. To suddenly find yourself like that, summoned to the police station, supported by just about no one, having your fingerprints taken, being in your underwear with someone taking photos of your scars to create a file on you…Honestly, when you get out of there, you think to yourself, “the world is crazy.”

To prevent this technology from going abroad, the French Army offered him a financing agreement in 2018. Today, the Flyboard can reach 140 km/h and fly as high as 150 meters for up to 6 minutes. In the future, it could reach 200 km/h and fly up to 3,000 meters high for 30 minutes.