WATCH France’s ‘flying soldier’ preparing for his attempt to reach England

France's 'flying soldier' - last seen soaring over the Bastille Day parade - has released footage of preparations for his attempt to fly the English Chanel on Thursday.

WATCH France's 'flying soldier' preparing for his attempt to reach England
Franky Zapata. Photo: AFP

The inventor and military reservist, known to his friends as Franky Zapata, will attempt to cross from France to England on Thursday on his flyboard.

The 50km trip from a beach near Calais to Dover will involve a complicated mid-flight refuelling as the flyboard can only go for 10 minutes at a time.


The device, which can reach speeds of up to 190 km/h, is powered by five small jet engines and controlled by a handheld throttle, which Zapata activates to take off after strapping himself into a pair of boots attached to the board.

Ahead of his attempt – which is planned for Thursday to commemorate 110 years since Frenchman Louis Blériot became the first person to cross the Channel by plane – he has been practising on his device on countryside around Saint-Inglevert in northern France.


He told French TV station BFMTV that: “I've already tried to fly this distance several times and it's only worked three times.”

However he added that he was confident that the attempt would succeed, providing that he could keep to speeds of at least 140km/h for the majority of the journey.

Franky Zapata with his wife Chrysten and their son. Photo: AFP

The dad-of-one added: “If I slow down, I don't get through. It's like skiing or snowboarding. The further you want to go, the faster you have to fly.”

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France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier