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Bastille Day: Hoverboard carries gun-toting ‘flying soldier’ during military parade in Paris

Anthony Cuthbertson

A French inventor has shown off a jet-powered hoverboard during the annual Bastille Day military parade in France.

Frank Zapata, a former JetSki champion and army reservist, flew above the crowds carrying a rifle in a demonstration of the potential military applications of his Flyboard invention.

European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, applauded the Flyboard as it passed overhead.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said the technology could be used to create flying soldiers that could take to the battlefields in the future.

She told France Inter radio that the Flyboard “can allow tests for different kinds of uses, for example as a flying logistical platform or, indeed, as an assault platform”.

The fly by of the so-called "flying soldier" appeared alongside more than 4,000 armed forces and 100 aircraft during the Bastille Day celebrations, which were marked with violence as hundreds of Gilets Jaune protestors clashed with police.

Capable of flying at speeds of up to 190 km/h, the Flyboard was originally developed to fly over water but has since been adapted to also work on land.

Zapata CEO Franky Zapata flies a jet-powered hoverboard or 'Flyboard prior to the Bastille Day military parade down the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on 14 July, 2019 (AFP/Getty Images)

The Flyboard has already received funding from the French military for its development, while Mr Zapata has also worked closely with the US military to explore combat applications.

A version of the Flyboard was featured in The Drive in 2018, revealing that it could cost up to $250,000 to deploy one unit.

Mr Zapata next plans to fly his hoverboard over the English Channel on 25 July – exactly 110 years after the first aerial crossing of the Channel.

With a flight time of only 10 minutes, the Flyboard will need to be refuelled in mid-air throughout the crossing.