Flyboard Air demonstration in Collier not certified with FAA

Posted at 6:32 PM, Sep 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 14:41:52-04

It looks like a special effect from a superhero movie, but the man on the personal hovercraft device seen in a new viral video recorded in Naples isn't the Silver Surfer.

It's Franky Zapata of Zapata Racing on a revoluntionary Flyboard Air, and video shows him zooming high over Avalon Lake in Collier County's Sugden Park on Sunday. The demonstration was held during the Flyboard World Cup Championship.

"It made history," said A.J. Handler, CEO of Pro Watercross. "It flew for the first time in the U.S., and it flew in Naples, Florida."

Standing on the small jet-powered craft, Zapata easily beat two jet-skis in a race, which raises obvious questions about safety.

Fox 4 reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration to see what kind of permitting might be required for a Flyboard Air. 

"The FAA is aware of the operation, and is looking into it," writes Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman in a statement. "The device/operator did not have an FAA-issued experimental aircraft certificate, which is required for an experimental aircraft."

A Collier County spokeswoman told Fox 4 that EMTs and safety boats were on standby during the event.

Handler said the Flyboard Air could be much more than a weekend toy, and could even be a life-saver.  "Being able to possibly go up a mountain and deliver supplies or something - that's phenomenal," he said.