Skateboarding on the sky: Man tries unusual Channel crossing

Franky Zapata, "Le Rocketman", a 40-year-old inventor, performs a training flight over the Saint Inglevert airport near Calais, Northern France, Wedne...
Franky Zapata, "Le Rocketman", a 40-year-old inventor, performs a training flight over the Saint Inglevert airport near Calais, Northern France, Wedne...
Franky Zapata, "Le Rocketman", a 40-year-old inventor, performs a training flight over the Saint Inglevert airport near Calais, Northern France, Wedne...

Franky Zapata, "Le Rocketman", a 40-year-old inventor, performs a training flight over the Saint Inglevert airport near Calais, Northern France, Wedne...

Franky Zapata, "Le Rocketman", a 40-year-old inventor, performs a training flight over the Saint Inglevert airport near Calais, Northern France, Wedne...

Franky Zapata, "Le Rocketman", a 40-year-old inventor, performs a training flight over the Saint Inglevert airport near Calais, Northern France, Wedne...

SANGATTE, France (AP) — Is it a bird? A plane? No, it's a man on a homemade "flyboard," gliding over the English Channel in his boldest undertaking yet.

After careful preparations, aviation buff and inventor Franky Zapata took off Thursday from the French coastal town of Sangatte fastened to the small flying platform he designed. From afar, it looks like he's skateboarding on the sky.

He's hoping to make it across 36 kilometers (22.4 miles) to the Dover area in southeast England in about 20 minutes.

He's carrying a power pack, and will have one chance to refuel from a boat on the England side.

Zapata, 40, wowed crowds in Paris on Bastille Day, whirling over European leaders on the flyboard. But crossing the windy, ship-filled Channel is a much tougher challenge.