airboard1.jpg

Zapata Racing’s Flyboard Air can reach a height of 10,000 ft., has a top speed of 93 mph and has a flight time of 10-minutes.

 

Ok, I’ll admit it, I too was on the hoax bandwagon when I first saw Zapata Racing’s Flyboard Air hoverboard. When the company released their first video speculation on its authenticity went rampant with some accusing the French company of pulling off a hoax- was the pilot suspended by wires or was the video edited to make him appear to be airborne? Turns out, it wasn’t hoaxed, the Flyboard Air is real and has even set a new flight record for hoverboard distance according to Guinness. (http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2016/4/confirmed-franky-zapata-sets-new-farthest-hoverboard-flight-record-in-france-427011)

 

 

Zapata Racing is known for their Flyboard series of water-powered hoverboards, which is why the Air looks similar. Instead of water however, the Air is powered by four turbine engines that provide lift, while another pair positioned on each side of the board provide stabilization while in flight. The pilot wears a Camelbak-like bladder on his back that feeds Jet A1 (Kerosene) to all six engines, which the pilot controls using a handheld Wi-Fi-based controller. That controller only provides thrust while the pilot uses his balance to control the direction.

 

Each of the four main engines provides 250 horsepower, maxing-out at 1,000. The company states that an internal logic system, like those found in most drones help provide increased stabilization while in flight. Algorithms adjust the side engine thrust autonomously depending on the pilot’s angle of direction, more accurately it changes the engine’s thrust nozzles in much the same fashion as the Harrier jet and other VTOL aircraft.

 

Hoverboard2.JPG

A pair of technicians stands by with a fire extinguisher and extra fuel for safety and prolonged testing.

 

As far as safety goes, the company claims their Air hoverboard has three-fold redundancy- meaning it can land safely if one engine fails; even the remote control has three different Wi-Fi channels in case one becomes disconnected somehow. I’m curious as to how that works- does it switch over when the signal becomes lost and are you falling during the transfer to a different signal?

 

Suffice it to say, not everyone will be able to take flight, as Zapata requires new pilots to have 50 to 100 hours riding their water-powered hoverboards before doing so, however they are currently designing a more stable version for the general public as well as for the French army.

 

Have a story tip? Message me at:

http://twitter.com/Cabe_Atwell