We learnt how to fly with the inventor of the Flyboard himself, Franky Zapata, as part of Ford’s ‘Unlearn’ campaign
Have you ever wanted to learn how to fly? Of course you have.
Luckily for us, we had the opportunity to learn how to fly with the master himself, Franky Zapata, inventor of the Flyboard and CEO of Zapata Racing.
Franky first came up with the idea of the Flyboard in June 2011 after many years as a Jet Ski racer, even becoming the RUN F1 World Champion. The board where you place your feet is connected to a PWC turbine by a long hose, which is around 20 metres long. The hose redirects the water flow pressure by nozzles placed on either side of the board, which allows the user to reach dizzying heights of 12 metres in the air.
The Flyboard has become a hugely popular worldwide phenomenon, captivating people who have witnessed the incredible invention in person and the millions who have seen videos of the Flyboard on YouTube. We spoke to Franky about the Flyboard’s success and the crazy reaction his invention has had on a global scale.
‘We understood with the Flyboard that we certainly had something, but we didn’t know what exactly. I brought the Flyboard to a boat show in Paris and people were really interested. We filmed the Flyboard and in two days, the video had reached almost two million views and we were the number one most popular video for the week on YouTube. Everybody wanted a Flyboard.’
There is truly nothing like the sensation of flying above the water on the Flyboard. We were invited to have a go on the Flyboard by Ford, for whom Franky is an ambassador as part of their ‘Unlearn’ campaign. The key to the Flyboard is balance – once you’ve found your balance on the board, you’re flying sky high! Before we had a go, Franky demonstrated how a pro does it. We were all in awe as he flipped and turned above the ocean water in the bright Spanish sunshine.
It was then my turn to have a go. Franky gave us many briefs beforehand about how to position your body on the Flyboard, but nothing can prepare you for the real deal. At the beginning, the hard part was trying to straighten your body under the water with your feet attached to the board. Once you were standing up underwater with the water level with your chest, Franky would increase the power of the handheld control, allowing you to rise out of the water. Franky was sitting on the Jet Ski attached to the hose the whole time, so I knew I was in safe hands!
The experience was unreal and so much fun, although I did admittedly get very wet. It’s pretty easy to lose your balance if you lean just a little too far forwards or backwards, but then it’s all about starting over under the water and getting back into the air. According to Franky, the balance required to fly with the Flyboard is apparently very similar to snowboarding, so if you’re seasoned on the slopes then you’re already halfway there! Flying with the Flyboard was fantastic and if I could try it out again, I definitely would. Here I am, channelling my inner Iron Man on the Flyboard.
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