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Flyboard Air

COOL YOUR JETS

This French hoverboard is amazing (and stupid)

Technology

Is this hoverboard a glimpse of the future? Or just another way for Silicon Valley's elite to maintain their supremacy over us?

When French inventor Franky Zapata uploaded video of the Flyboard Air to YouTube, opinions were divided. Some people scoffed at his jet-powered hoverboard and said it was a hoax. Others raved that it was, “Some Green Goblin shit!”

Well, if you saw the crazy Frenchman demo-ing his hoverboard at the recent French Grand Prix or Le Mans motor races, you’ll know that the Flyboard Air is very much a thing.

Decked out in a suitably-villainous black helmet, Zapata, a former jet ski champion, surfed over the spectators, prompting a collective ‘mon dieu!’ from the sea of smartphones below.

His terrifying – but very cool – invention is essentially a platform containing four thruster engines that generate a combined 1,000bhp. Top speed is 93mph and each flight lasts about 10 minutes. A handheld lever controls thrust and elevation, allowing for spectacular twists and turns (hence comparisons with the Green Goblin’s Slider).

Despite the inherent danger, Zapata claims it’s ”the safest, easiest, lightest, most manoeuvrable personal aviation system ever created.” If one engine conks out the other three will compensate; if two engines fail the Flyboard Air will make a ‘controlled descent’. 

But hang on, what’s in that massive backpack? No, it’s not a parachute – it’s a tank containing five gallons of jet fuel! Stopping to light up a Gitanes mid-way to the office would probably be a bad idea.

Transforming oneself into a millennial Icarus won’t come cheap, either. The Flyboard Air is said to cost around £200,000, meaning it’s likely to become just another way for individualistic Silicon Valley billionaires to prove their supremacy over the rest of us.

And, on a more sinister note, Zapata’s website says that it’s “possible” that the Flyboard Air could be armed, although none of its “current customers have asked for this integration.” What about firing a weapon from one? “It is possible and is part of some of our customers’ development strategy,” says Zapata. 

Flyboard Air is said to cost around £200,000

Once the military has fully explored the hoverboard’s battlefield potential, Justin Bieber and few lucky billionaires may get to soar like Superman – but only if the aviation authorities give it the nod.

As for commuting to work on this baby, it’s probably never going to happen. As Steve Jobs sagely pointed out, switching from bicycles to flying cars or jet-powered skateboards would require us to rebuild every city in the world.

But, while Zapata’s hoverboard is as undemocratic, impractical and dicey as all the others, it is a pretty cool shorthand for human optimism.

After all, ‘The Future’ won’t officially start until we get one.

 

Want to know what makes a daredevil tick? Read our interview with England’s answer to Evel Knievel.

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