Yesterday was Bastille Day, the national holiday of France that commemorates the people storming and raiding a prison that also served as a storage space for weapons and ammo all the way back in 1789. It kicked off the French Revolution, which was like ours but more confusing and with way more decapitations. Every year France celebrates it with a big military parade on the Champs-Élysées. (Yes, this was the inspiration for Trump’s absurd parade earlier this month.)
Despite all the attention this video is getting around the world today, this kind of flyboard isn’t that new. It was invented all the way back in 2012 by Franky Zapata, who is described as a “French water-craft rider” on Wikipedia, and who I will thus always see riding a jet ski in my head whenever I think about him. It makes sense that Zapata and the French government would want to show off the flyboard during their big national parade—it’s like when the US had that guy fly a jetpack into the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics. Who wouldn’t be proud of building something as cool and iconic as the Green Goblin’s glider, even if it’s a tool dedicated solely to furthering Norman Osborn’s egomaniacal campaign of evil and villainy?
We even get the helmet that Zapata is wearing here. If I was hovering dozens of feet in the air on something I whipped together myself, I’d definitely want something to protect my head. I don’t know why Zapata had to wear one that looks so potentially sinister though—if you want to be positive you could say it looks like Ant-man, or if you want to double down on the supervillain talk you could point out how it looks like something one of Cobra’s Viper squads would wear in the ‘80s G.I. Joe toy line.
The machine gun is just completely baffling, though. Yeah, it’s a military parade, but this would be like the guy who invented the Roomba showing it off on the Fourth of July after strapping some artillery to it. If France plans to use these things in their military, they probably should have had actual soldiers showing it off, and perhaps a whole little squadron of them to really hammer home the wartime capabilities. Having this one guy zoom around by himself with a machine gun and a futuristic space helmet just reinforces the supervillain vibe that everybody’s automatically going to pick up on here. If this happened in America you know people would immediately start panicking and fleeing. Hell, I knew this was a planned part of the parade the first time I watched this video, but I still half expected this guy to swoop down in front of Emmanuel Macron and his boys and open fire, before demanding something from the United Nations. If France and Zapata aren’t careful, this flyboard’s gonna disappear in the middle of the night, and wind up beneath the feet of either a terrorist or a deeply committed cosplayer.
Actually, you can just go buy a flyboard directly from Zapata’s company. It’ll only set you back about a quarter of a million dollars.
If you haven’t seen the footage yet, check it out below.
Here’s some more footage from other news outlets, if that wasn’t enough for you.