Jet-powered hoverboard sets an absurdly high bar for personal flight

Source for this article was published by Engadget and written by Steve Dent.

Chances are that you have seen last month’s ridiculously impressive footage from the first test of a personal hoverboard developed by Frank Zapata, which can allegedly fly for as long as 10 minutes, as far as 10,000 feet (just over 3 km), and achieve top speed of 150 km/h (watch the video below). The Flyboard Air, as its name goes, has just broken the world record for the fartherst hoverboard flight, reaching the distance of 2252 metres, surpassing the previous record nearly ten times, setting the new benchmark for personal hoverboards. That can sound crazy if the last hoverboard you have seen was used by Green Goblin in the 2002 Spider-man movie.

Flyboard Air operates untethered, unlike the current mainstream packs that use water to propel its user. This one is using four 250-horsepower jet engines fueled by a backpack worth of kerosene, and controlled by a hand-held remote. The steering is handled entirely by the weight-shifting of the user, and its modest dimensions make it far more practical that one would expect judging just by its performance.

“It’s impossible to ride it before you have a minimum of 50 or 100 hours in the original Flyboard with water. Also, if you want to try it, you must have seven lives, like the cat,” said Frank Zapata for The Verge.

However, as much as Flyboard Air looks like an almost fully developed commercial product, we shouldn’t expect fleets of hoverboard users whizzing through the air just yet. As Zapata stated, it is very difficult to maintain control over their current prototype. At least 50 hours of flight time on the water-powered model is highly recommended before even attempting the jet version.

We can, however, expect more footage and information in the near future, as the company moves forward with commercialization and talks with numerous companies. Zapata sees governments and security forces as the first prospective users of the Flyboard Air, but he is also working on a new model that would be more suitable for the general public: “If everybody wants a Flyboard Air, we have to work with the government, we have to work with liability, we have to work on a thousand things. But why not?”