Invented by Frank Zapata in 2012, Flyboarding (aka, using one of those water jet hover board things) has grown from a novelty into a full-fledged competitive sport. Now, Zapata Racing is prepared to revolutionize the field again — this time with the Flyboard Air, a hover board that does away with the water propulsion system and uses only air to zip you across the sky. If you ever dreamed about being the Green Goblin, here’s your chance.
The original Flyboard was groundbreaking, but it had some major limitations. The Flyboard used a stream of high pressure water that pushed the rider up to 30 feet in the air and allowed them to move over the surface of the water. To generate this powerful thrust, the rider had to be connected to a personal watercraft via a long hose that carried the high-pressure water stream from the watercraft to the nozzles underneath the fly board. The pressure was adjustable, providing riders with control over the thrust so they could move themselves higher or lower as desired. The system was very maneuverable with advanced riders able to perform acrobatic maneuvers like flips, twists and turns in mid air.
Riders, though, had to be conscious of the hose that connected the board to the jet ski and were limited in how far and high they could go. In the new Flyboard air, riders are now untethered thanks to an integrated turbine engine and are free to fly as high as 10,000 feet. According to Zapata Racing, the unit is capable of flying as fast as 90 miles per hour and has enough power for a 10 minute flight.
In a demonstration video, Zapata is shown flying effortlessly over a body of water, reaching a height of 30 meters (98 feet) and a speed of 55 km/h (34MPH) during the 3.5 minute flight. The unit is still in the prototype stage and will continue to undergo testing and refinement for the remainder of 2016. With a successful public flight under his belt, Zapata is now on par with David Mayman and Nelson Tyler, who last year demonstrated their JB-9 jetpack by flying around the Statue of Liberty.
But of course, not everyone is convinced that it’s real. Numerous commenters on Facebook and YouTube claim that the video is fake, and that the whole demonstration was staged — some even said they can see wires in certain shots. But Zapata Racing quickly dispelled these rumors by posting a second video on Facebook shortly thereafter. These guys have been working on Flyboard Air for over four years, and unless they spent all that time making two very elaborate hoax videos, then it appears that their device is legit.