When we last saw Franky Zapata in May, he was spinning uncontrollably in the water from a significant height in a terrifying jetboarding accident. But the flying Frenchman is back to debut a new high-speed personal plane called the JetRacer.
Zapata has already built a resume that most would be proud of. A former world jet ski champion, he went on to invent the Flyboard, a jet ski accessory that redirects its water jets to allow users to get out of the water like the love child of Aquaman and Iron Man. . Before long, he had completely given up on the jet ski and switched to jet turbines to create the Flyboard Air, which allowed him to zoom like the Green Goblin and set all sorts of records, nothing more than a backpack. full of kerosene. . He also built an “Ezfly” version with handles, a Segway of the skies for the rest of us, for whom no amount of brown underwear would ever be enough.
The latest vehicle from the Zapata stable builds on that small-turbine technology base but takes things in a new direction. The JetRacer is actually a carbon fiber bucket seat that flies thanks to the thrust of 10 of the same small jets that power Flyboards.
In some ways, it’s a lot like the little manned multicopter drones that are starting to pop up here and there – take the Jetson One, for example. The parallels are there in terms of the basic airframe, distributed and redundant propulsion, plenty of automation and a drone-style on-the-fly tilting layout, with a super simple and highly automated control system.
The differences are quite significant though, starting with the fact that these jet turbines are horribly loud and very hot. And unlike propellers driven by electric motors, jet turbines can’t wind up fast enough to make the dozens of tiny corrections every second that these types of planes must make to balance themselves in the air. So it looks like Zapata has some sort of thrust vector arrangement in place under each of the jets, for quick adjustments and some pretty insane agility.
In this respect, it’s a bit like Mayman Aerospace’s Speeder flying motorcycle – although this machine is designed not only to fly in vertical thrust, but to spread wings for very high-speed horizontal flight well above the ground. 250 km/h (155 mph) Zapata claims the JetRacer is capable of punching.
Zapata says the JetRacer is designed for civilian and military work. Its primary design goal is high speed and maneuverability, even at the cost of “relatively short range”. Its targeted maximum altitude is 3,000 m (~10,000 ft) and it is capable of lifting up to 200 kg (441 lb) of people or cargo, the latter under remote or autonomous control.
One thing he can do that we haven’t seen anyone else in the Space Attempt is rip sick flips. True to his mile-wide daredevil streak, Zapata has incorporated what we assume is a one-button stunt control, which propels the JetRacer into a very fast and scary 360-degree roll. This is already operational on the prototype, as evidenced by the video below – although thankfully there doesn’t seem to be anyone in it when this thing flips over. We don’t imagine it will be long before Franky does some loose barrel rolls in front of the audience.
Zapata has not yet set a production or sales schedule, or price. Indeed, this aircraft may well remain in the flight demo realm for quite some time. But the company is calling for volunteers to go try and fly this thing. One hundred people will be drawn for the selection tests, which will reduce the list to 25 people, who will have the chance to pilot the JetRacer in the United States at some point. Uh, yes please.
Check out a video below.
JETRACER®: THE FIRST FLYING CAR AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC (by ZAPATA COMPANY)