Personal VTOL prototype wows Bastille Day crowds

At the Bastille Day parade in Paris last week, water-craft racer Franky Zapata amazed crowds and European dignitaries – including French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel – with his personal VTOL craft – Flyboard Air.

Zapata, founder of Zapata Racing, posed as a ‘flying soldier’, brandishing a rifle, while the military marched in celebration of the nation’s pride below. He demonstrated the Flyboard Air, a “jet-powered personal aerial vehicle, capable of VTOL and unprecedented individual mobility.”

The aerial inventor found success selling customisable hydro-powered flying kits for jet skis – technology now used in the Flyboard World Cup. His latest invention runs on kerosene, comprises five mini turbine engines and can fly for about 10 minutes. The turbines are provided by an unnamed prominent, European business aviation manufacturer.

The Flyboard Air.  Credits: Zapata Racing

The Flyboard Air. Credits: Zapata Racing

It is still only a prototype, said Zapata Racing’s Anna Venekas. “At the moment, we have a permit to fly, which we renew every six months. We are working on certification, but it is hard to define the timeline. We are being advised by French aviation authorities on what is required,” she said.

Zapata plans to adapt the technology used by the Flyboard Air for military applications. Venekas added that these efforts were underway, and that civilian use, for medical applications, was also one of the company’s plans. However, the complications surrounding flight over populations might prove to be difficult to resolve.

Meanwhile, this Thursday, (July 25th) Zapata will attempt to cross the English Channel on the Flyboard Air. His flight will mark the 110th anniversary of the first cross-Channel airplane flight by Louis Blériot.

Zapata aims to complete the flight in 20 minutes; however, he will have to refuel the flyboard midway across the channel.