Forget the Marty McFly Back to the Future II comparisons and jokes. Don’t look for hidden wires or signs of CGI editing. The Flyboard Air hoverboard invented by Franky Zapata and unveiled in a limited demonstration video a few weeks ago just set a world record by flying for over 2.2 kilometers (1.4 miles) in front of scores of witnesses. Where does the line to buy one start?
But nobody believed it was possible — not even me. It’s just one of the best moments of my life.
Franky Zapata’s record-breaking demonstration took place on April 30th off the coast of Sausset-le-Pins in southern France. On a beach near Carry-le-Rouet, the inventor, jetski racer and Zapata Racing founder placed his feet in the boots, donned the backpack that contained the kerosene fuel, put the control joystick in his hand and started up the turbojets.
The hoverboard lifted Zapata off the platform and he guided it over the crowd of staff, medical crew, fans and the all-important witnesses from Guinness. He flew the Flyboard Air at an altitude of 50 meters (165 feet) for 2,252 meters (1.4 miles), staying aloft for 3 minutes, 55 seconds before alighting on the landing platform. After one more victorious flight, he was given a World Record certificate by a Guinness representative for obliterating the previous hoverboard record of 275.9 meters (905 feet).
While Franky Zapata admits the first buyers (the Flyboard Air won’t be available to the public until at least 2017) will need 100 hours of training on a water-powered Flyboard and at least 20 hours of controlled practice, he assures that it’s safe and the final product will be designed so that “Ninety-nine percent of humans have to be able to ride it.” It’s equipped with stabilization software that will balance the hoverboard if one or more of the four tubojets fails and lower it to a controlled landing. Of course, it’s probably safer to fly over water too, especially since the fuel runs out after 10 minutes.
If you can’t wait for the Flyboard Air hoverboard, you can always try building your own hovercraft out of spare parts in your garage, as Colin Furze did with his homemade hoverbike which he scarily demonstrated just a day before Zapata.
Take that, McFly!