The French are used to tanks, jeeps, and military forces rolling down the Avenue de Champs-Élysées every July 14. Even the infamous bearded fighters of the French Foreign Legion are no big deal.

But on this Bastille Day even the most jaded spectators stared incredulously as Franky Zapata, the inventor of the Flyboard, zigged and zagged high above the Place de la Concorde, surfing the air to prove to everyone watching the Bastille Day parade that the future of personal flight was now upon us.