Franky Zapata’s jet-powered hoverboard has progressed from the shaky-looking platform that wobbled over water only in its first flight to serious consideration for use by the French military. The former jet-skiing champion dressed up as a futuristic soldier, complete with rifle, for a dynamic performance in front of dignitaries that included a smiling and clapping French President Emmanuel Macron and other EU leaders at Bastille Day ceremonies on Sunday. Bastille Day involves a large display of military hardware but Zapata stole the show with a spirited performance of swoops and dashes on what appears to be a stable and well-controlled aircraft that the French government might have plans for.

Before the performance, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly did a radio interview lauding the device and saying the military is planning “tests for different kinds of uses, for example as a flying logistical platform or, indeed, as an assault platform.” To keep the momentum alive, Zapata plans to cross the English Channel on July 25, 110 years after Louis Bleriot did it for the first time. The hoverboard will have to be refueled in flight to make the 20.7-mile crossing. He says it’s reached a top speed of 118 MPH and has a 10-minute endurance.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. The NATO code for fighters are along the lines of flogger or fulcrum.
    The NATO code for bombers are along the lines of bear or badger.
    The NATO code for these smaller circular airborne devices will be something like skeet or trap.

  2. I find it dizzying how fast the availability of accurate (& inexpensive) solid-state AHRS components is making the exotic commonplace in vehicle control. Next big step needed is breakthroughs in the even more SciFi-ish “thought control” user interface initiatives. I suspect that too is closer than we think.

  3. It made me laugh when they started fantasising on French radio and TV about infantry being issued with these.
    What is not clear in the video is that the five model aircraft turbines used on the board, collectively make a noise like a 707 used to before airports were told to keep quiet or else…
    He usually flys for 5 minutes and for that uses 20 litres of kerosene, so for 10 minutes, it will be 40 litres of kerosene — “Now listen here, I need a squad of volunteers to go into battle with a very noisy jet strapped to your feet and an extra 40 litres of kerosene (about 35kg I think) strapped to your person along with your normal battle kit. You, you, you, and you, have volunteered! Dismiss.”