Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

French hoverboard supervillain tries to fly across the English Channel, eats shit halfway through

Photo: Thierry Chesnot (Getty Images)

When we first learned of Franky Zapata, the French inventor, military reservist, and former jetskiing champion was flying high above the streets of Paris on Bastille Day, clutching a rifle in one hand as he zoomed through the sky like a gritty redesign of the Green Goblin. Not content simply to strike fear into the world’s hearts with this single display of bizarre military might, Zapata has returned to the public spotlight in an attempt to prove, ominously, that he could cross the English Channel on his hoverboard any old time he wants to.

Unfortunately for Zapata (but fortunately for the rest of us), the budding supervillain’s powers are not capable of such a feat just yet. As Sky News reported through an inadvertently hilarious one-two news hit yesterday, the hoverboard-enabled Third World War has been averted...for now.

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A BBC article provides further details, describing how Zapata was meant to fly from a beach close to Calais, France and over the Channel to Dover, England. The trip was supposed to take 20 minutes with Zapata “[keeping] an average speed of 87 mph (140 km/h) while traveling 15-20m (50-65 ft) above the water.” Very soon after taking off from the French coast, Zapata “fell into the water halfway across as he tried to land on a boat to refuel.”

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Zapata wasn’t hurt in the fall and, because he’s bound and determined to prove that science fiction supersoldiers can invade other nations from the sky, has said he’s going to try the crossing again next week, taking into account the fueling issues that spiked yesterday morning’s attempt.

There’s also a clip that shows Zapata in the happier time when he first soared away from gathered press and into the air, legs and arms locked into proper hoverboarding position while he sailed into the distance like a goofy action figure. In it, there are shades of the hubris-filled moments before a Super Dave Osborne sketch goes horribly awry.

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There doesn’t seem to be video of Zapata’s crash as of yet so, for now at least, let’s just imagine him testing out his new techniques and technology over and over again in a manner that resembles the guy below—a guy who, until Zapata’s Channel crash, held the title of “most noteworthy hover-tech bail” in human history.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.