Franky Zapata (Marseille, 43 years old) rose to global fame when on July 14, 2019, during the French national holiday parade, he flew over the Champs-Elysées mounted on a board propelled by kerosene-fueled turbojets. A few days later, he crossed the English Channel between the French and British coasts with the same contraption. Zapata, world champion jet skier, self-taught inventor and entrepreneur, prepares new gadgets in his workshop in the south of France, near his hometown.
Ask. When did you start feeling the desire to fly?
Answer. He must have been five or six years old. She dreamed of flying like superheroes and cartoon characters. What inspired me was to get on a skate and fly. Since this did not exist and then the closest thing there was was helicopters, I tried it when I was 16, but I did not pass the medical check-up because I am colorblind.
P. He dropped out of school early.
r I was a troubled child, always in the hospital emergency room. At school they made me understand that I was not cut out for studies and that it was best to find a job. I entered the labor market at the age of 16, working in construction.
P. It didn’t last long either.
r No. I had bought a jet ski [moto acuática] to test and found that it was made for this. The adventure lasted 17 years. In those years I learned everything.
P. And he also found a way to fly.
r He had a company that manufactured aquatic bikes of competition. I understood that with the power of some water tubes I could fly. And I said to myself, “I have to do it.” So I invented flyboard. I sold thousands in the world. And this led me to flyboard air [la tabla voladora]: It was about flying, but not only over water but all over the planet. With him I flew at 200 kilometers per hour and crossed the English Channel.
P. But you are not an engineer.
r 95% of the calculations needed to fly are addition, subtraction and division. What you don’t know you find on the internet.
P. when you fly with him flyboard airWhat do you feel?
r It is more comparable to a foot race on a hill than a scooter ride. The physical effort is intense. You do not have the impression of floating, but of fighting against the elements: against the wind and gravity. It’s not a ride, it’s a fight.
P. What are you thinking up there?
r I’m focused. I must analyze the data of the engines, anticipate everything, look far away that there is not a bird or an obstacle.
P. Do you recommend the experience?
r The flyboard air It is not for everybody. It is dangerous and complicated to carry. And humans are creative when it comes to harming themselves: people would try to do unlikely things and kill themselves. But for that we are creating other machines.
P. The future flying car and the flying scooter or motorcycle. Will we move with them in the future?
r not with him jet pilot [el coche volador], which is too noisy and out of step with the spirit of the times when it comes to carbon footprint and ecology. The jet pilot It will run from October in Las Vegas as a recreational experience. But air scooter [moto aérea] it makes little noise and is electrical and thermal. We will present it between June and August and it will not be for recreational purposes: it will be used to move around and walk.
P. Will it be allowed?
r In the United States, yes; here in Europe, not at the moment, due to regulations.
P. Won’t it be chaos so many people flying?
r Maybe it won’t be as chaotic as a one-lane road already is.
P. When will it be a reality?
r I know that in three years there will be people who will buy bread in air scooter Not everyone, but some people do. I will at least go!
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.