EVENT - Demonstrating at the Sion Air Show, with its 20 kg Flyboard Air, Frank Zapata imagined the smallest flying machine in the world.
"Look dad, the gentleman is flying without wings!" , Laughs, this kid on seeing Franky Zapata evolve on his Flyboard Air Friday at the Sion Air Show. Although the name Zapata has been known worldwide since the Mexican Revolution of 1910, it is on the way to becoming famous thanks to a Frenchman, Franky Zapata, who revolutionizes the way of flying in the air.
This Marseillais was in demonstration in the capital of Valais with his strange jet, capable of propelling it at 150 km / h.
Frank Zapata: "I am not more than 15 meters high in demonstration, but I have already climbed to 80 or 100 meters." ©Héloïse Maret
After the exploits of Yves "Jetman" Rossy during the 2011 edition, the 2017 Sion Air Show has again highlighted an experimental way of flying. Standing on his twenty-kilogram machine equipped with five turbojets developing 1000 horses, its inventor is impressive of ease.
One would think he is drawing snowboard curves, but on three planes instead of two. "It takes a hundred hours of flight to control the beast," warned the Frenchman. This inventor already has to his credit another board flying over the water bodies and propelled by a duct fed by a jet ski.
First time in a meeting
Friday in Sion, while he salutes spectators with one hand, Franky Zapata uses a wireless remote control connected to a software that adjusts the symmetry of the power of his new board.
While the technology is omnipresent, the fact remains that the pilot has a very active role because he has to swing his body to steer. The show, short-lived because of the limited range at 6 or 7 minutes, is intense.
Accustomed to evolve over the water, for his safety in case of breakdown, for this first Helvetic, the French flew Friday morning above the ground, at very low altitude, in front of the public of the Valais airport . "This is the first time I fly at an air show. I do not exceed 15 meters in height, but I have already climbed to 80 or 100 meters. "
An unnecessary parachute
If a problem occurs at this height, a parachute is useless. "I can drop the backpack filled with kerosene, but that's it ... If a reactor breaks down, I can still land normally. But if a second makes the soul, it's the crash. "
The show, short-lived because of the limited range at 6 or 7 minutes, is intense. © H éloïse Maret
However, since its first successful flight in February 2016, the Flyboard Air has evolved a lot. "He's reliable now. My goal is to make the smallest flying machine in the world, accessible to everyone. The next model will have an autonomy doubled and will require only one hour of learning, because it will be self-stabilized. He will behave like a Segway. "
According to Franky Zapata, these improvements are likely to be of interest to a wide audience, including miliaries. To hear him, the French and American armies would not be indifferent to the Flyboard Air.
Is it because the turbojets used are derived from aviation and missiles? Still, he claims to have signed a contract with the US military. As for civilian applications, they seem innumerable.