Flyboard Air creator bought by US counter explosives company

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The Flyboard Air taking off for its record-breaking flight in Marseille, France, April 2016(Credit: Zapata Industries)

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French jet ski champion Franky Zapata made some serious waves back in 2011 when he showed off his ambitious water-jet Flyboard, which uses a jet ski motor to pump water through a pair of boots and hand-held stabilizers. Just this April he upped the ante significantly, with a new device that swaps out water jets for jet engines, and quickly used it to start breaking records. Things are continuing to move at quite a pace, with US company Implant Sciences today announcing its intention to purchase Zapata Industries. The company is a leading manufacturer of explosive detection tech for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Gizmag caught up with Franky Zapata earlier this year to witness his attempt to break the "furthest flight by a hoverboard" world record. After the jet-powered Flyboard Air helped him smash the record, traveling more than 2 km (1.2 mi) in just seven minutes, we sat down with the man, and got a good look at the tech itself. It's an impressive device, made largely from carbon fiber, packing four 250-horsepower jet engines, and using a proprietary algorithm to maintain stability during flight.

At that time, the company was looking into the various aviation regulations that would need to be adhered to in order to keep the project moving. A few months down the line, it's clear that Zapata's record-breaking flight caught more than just our own attention, drawing the interest of US-based company Implant Sciences.

It's fair to say that personal jet-powered transport isn't exactly in the company's wheelhouse; it usually manufactures explosives and drug-detection systems for use by the DHS. Having last year announced an intention to diversify its product offerings, the company believes it can make a success of Zapata's Flyboard Air tech in industrial, military and medical fields.

So, while you're unlikely to be able to get your hands on your very own Flyboard Air any time soon, the acquisition means that it's possible the technology will start cropping up in various fields. Zapata already has some ideas for how its tech could be used, having come up with concepts for jet bikes, floating medical stretchers, and flying platforms for workers to reach difficult locations such as wind turbines and offshore oil rigs.

Implant Sciences is currently looking into the possibility of selling its explosives detection business, and the purchase of Zapata is subject to shareholder approval. Overall though, it seems pretty confident that the move could lead to big things.

"We are beyond excited to have visionaries like Franky Zapata and his team on board and we are thrilled to allow for shareholders to benefit from the many breakthrough products he has already invented and the new innovations he will be unveiling in coming months and years." said Implant Sciences president Robert Liscouski.

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