Franky Zapata straps on a Zenith for flyboard crossing of the English Channel

Flying across the English Channel was the ultimate challenge in 1909 for Louis Bleriot, a French aviator, inventor and engineer. He succeeded in his mission thanks, in part, to the timekeeping precision of Zenith, which supplied the onboard instruments for his plane.

Last weekend another French inventor, Franky Zapata, took to the skies over the English Channel in a very different aircraft, a jet-powered flyboard that made the crossing in just 20 minutes, despite needing to stop halfway on a ship’s desk to refuel.

Once again, Zenith kept time on the mission, this time with a Type 20 Chronograph Adventure watch, which was strapped to his wrist.

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Zapata’s vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft, which is strapped to his feet and controlled in flight through tiny movements of his body and a joystick to set the thrust.

His flight on Sunday generated global coverage for Mr Zapata and the 45mm Zenith Pilot Type 20 Adventure he wore.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder