Skateboarding really took off this year. But what if your deck could fly? No, really.
There is a man flying around Times Square in New York City in a viral video on Twitter, riding what could be a colossal, eight-rotor drone, at roughly ten feet above the street.
Update: The designer and seller of the hoverboard aircraft is Hunter Kowald. Initial coverage of the viral video may be found below.
A YouTuber named Hunter Kowald claims to be behind the Times Square flight. According to his LinkedIn profile, Kowald is the founder of SkySurfer Hoverboard Aircrafts, where he designs, develops, and performs test flights of a hoverboard aircraft that can lift 500 lbs (226.7 kg) on its top. Hunter also said this DIY approach to futuristic hoverboard aircraft is for sale, although as of writing, he has not replied to emails requesting a purchase website.
This isn't "Back to the Future," but it feels close. While the video was shared publicly on the account owned by Rex Chapman, he notes in a tweet that he got the video from an Instagram account called molivefreeordie, under the name Morgan Nevins, but it seems Kowald is the designer and test-flyer of the vehicle.
A man flew through Times Square on his own Hoverboard
The scene in Times Square evokes memories of the Green Goblin from the 2002 film Spider-Man, played at the time by acclaimed actor Willem Dafoe. But unlike in the film, this flying person didn't throw explosives throughout the city. Some will jump on this stunt as a hint of the future of personal transportation, but others will denounce the flying man as a danger to himself and others. We don't know what the future holds, but we love to see it happening.
We can't be sure when this happened, let alone the identity of the pilot, but this may not be the first time we've seen a flying man in public. In April 2020, another video of a man zooming through a city landscape on a comparably high-powered drone with eight propellers surfaced on the net. And there's reason to suspect that a YouTube personality called Hunter Kowald performed the April flight, since supplemental videos of behind-the-scenes footage came out at roughly the same time as the April flights.
However, without confirmation, we can't say for sure that the man who flew in Times Square is the same man from the YouTube videos. As for the "hoverboard" itself, it was suspected that the company Omni Hoverboards might be behind this stunt, whose vehicles' price might cost up to $20,000. While there are promotional videos on Omni's channel of people riding the company's products over treelines, which have comparable heights to the recent Times Square flyer video, the Times Square flyer and his hoverboard have no official affiliation with Omni.
We hope the man who flew through Times Square outlives 'jetpack man'
Of course, drones aren't the only way to hit the sky without a vehicle. Last year, the first video recordings of "jetpack man" were captured, including promotional videos of the original mystery flyer and his friend soaring over Dubai, parallel to an Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft, at an altitude of 4,000 ft (1,219 m). But, sadly the original jetpack man, Vincent Reffet, died mid-training flight in the same city, at 36 years old.
We can't speak to the safety of Kowald's flight through Times Square, but it's not hard to learn to want to fly through New York, where traffic is often bumper-to-bumper, where the trains are only on time when they're late, and where too many drivers are not the closest friends to bicyclists. In other words, we'll probably see the new Kowald fly his drone again soon, and completely understand if you secretly hope he drops a spare colossally powerful drone outside your window. So you, too, may fly through the city.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article strongly implied that Omni had produced the mystery hoverboard aircraft. IE has since learned that YouTuber Hunter Kowald is likely behind the Times Square stunt.