Jet-Powered Stunt

GLYN KIRK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (ST MARGARET’S BAY); YVES HERMAN/REUTERS (FLYBOARD)

HOW HIGH? Franky Zapata stayed about 20 meters (65 feet) above the sea when he flew across the English Channel.

Last August, French inventor Franky Zapata took a one-of-a-kind flight. He zoomed across the English Channel (see map) on a jet-powered creation he calls the Flyboard Air.

Zapata’s Flyboard Air is outfitted with five turbine engines. The spinning blades generate a force called thrust that propels a rider through the air. Zapata controls where he flies by shifting his body forward, back, or to the side to tilt the board’s engines. He has to make these movements extremely carefully. “When steering with your body, even your hands affect the direction you go,” he explains.

It took Zapata 22 minutes to fly across the water from northern France to southern England. He reached a top speed of 177 kilometers (110 miles) per hour. The inventor says he’s already planning his next airborne contraption: a flying car.

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