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.