What is a hovercraft?
A hovercraft is one of the children of the air cushion vehicle (ACV) family that flies above the earth's surface on a cushion of air. It is powered by an engine that provides both the lift cushion and the thrust for forward or reverse movement. The hovercraft is a true multi-terrain, year-round vehicle that can easily make the transition from land to water because it slides on a cushion (bubble) of air with the hovercraft skirt slightly brushing the surface.
How does a hovercraft work?
To understand how hovercraft work, it is necessary to realize that the dynamics are more closely related to aircraft than to boats or automobiles. Hovercraft float on a cushion of air that has been forced under the craft by a fan. This causes the craft to rise or lift and fly above the surface. Hovercraft are the amphibious member of the air cushion vehicle family and are the most novel among vehicles that are supported by pressurized air. See a diagram and read a detailed explanation of how hovercraft work.
How is a hovercraft different than an airboat?
Hovercraft use less fuel, make less noise, are dynamically safer, are more maneuverable and versatile and are better at amphibious tasks than airboats. Hovercraft are flying machines that travel above the surface on a cushion of air. Airboats are simply flat-bottomed boats with a huge two- to six-bladed propeller; their entire weight planes across the surface like a ski. On water, airboats create a wake; hovercraft do not because they fly several inches above the water. Both are amphibious vehicles but the hovercraft, since it rides on a bubble of air, is better on dry terrain. Unlike hovercraft, airboats can’t operate very well over mud, sand, pavement, gravel, grass or other dry surfaces. The airboat’s flat hull is usually coated with plastic to reduce friction and help protect its hull when crossing such terrain. Airboats are even limited to fairly smooth water because their hulls contain minimum flotation and are easily swamped. The airboat’s tall propeller also limits its usefulness in areas with overhead obstructions, which are often found in flood conditions. The airboat’s propeller runs close to the speed of sound and generates twice the noise of a hovercraft.
Airboats have a high thrust-to-weight ratio, close to 1:1, so airboat thrust is equal to gross weight. Hovercraft thrust is only 1/10 the gross weight. Since energy consumption is related to thrust, an airboat consumes two to three times more energy than a hovercraft, therefore uses more fuel.
The airboat’s high center of gravity makes them prone to flipping over. Hovercraft are also more maneuverable than airboats, especially Neoteric craft whose patented reverse thrust system lets them back up at speed.
Which is correct: hovercraft, hovercrafts, hover craft or hover crafts?
Even though you may see it spelled hovercrafts, hover craft, hover crafts, or even hoovercraft, there is only ONE correct spelling: hovercraft - whether singular or plural. You may have one hovercraft or you may have twelve hovercraft. It follows the same rule as the word aircraft: You may have one aircraft or twelve aircraft, but you never have any aircrafts, air craft or air crafts.
What are hovercraft used for?
Hovercraft are so versatile that their applications are as diverse as the people who use them. They are most often used to reach areas that are inaccessible on foot or by conventional vehicles. A partial listing of present uses includes:
• Exploring the vast number of shallow and narrow waterways that cannot be reached by boat
• Rescue work on swift water, ice, snow, mud flats, deserts, wetlands, shallow water, swamps, bogs, marshes and floodwaters.
• Affordable, safe way to fly without a pilot's license.
• Transport in environmentally sensitive areas where habitat, erosion and soil compaction are a concern
• Wildlife conservation and research
• Transportation or "island-hopping" with clients for real estate purposes
• Fishing anywhere ... including ice fishing
• Traveling from land to water where there is no boat dock
• Military services
• Dive recovery teams
• Retrieving birds from tailings ponds at mining sites
• Water management
• Port authorities/drug enforcement
• TV and film companies
• Entertainment at Disney World water shows
• Agricultural spraying
• Survey work
• Heavy load movement across difficult surfaces
• Mosquito abatement
• Environmental testing
• Charter operations
• Oil spill cleanup
• Removing leaves from Pecan farms
• "Bird hazing" – chasing geese from lakes in the vicinity of airports
Do hovercraft hurt the environment?
No. The unique characteristics of the hovercraft make it one of the most environmentally friendly vehicles in the world. One of these characteristics is the hovercraft's low "footprint pressure." The pressure a hovercraft exerts on its operating surface is conservatively 1/30th that of the human foot! The average human being standing on ground exerts a pressure of about 3 lb per square inch (20 KPa), and that increases to 25 lb per square inch (172 KPa) when walking. In contrast, the average hovercraft exerts a pressure of only 0.33 lb (2.2 KPa) per square inch - even less as speed increases. This "footprint pressure" is below that of a seagull standing on one leg! Hovercraft have literally flown over a pedestrian without inflicting harm.
Environmental Impact of Hovercraft
How safe is a hovercraft?
Over the hovercraft’s half-century of existence it has proven to be quite possibly the safest vehicle ever built. Unlike boats, hovercraft never sink; their plan-form area must be large for lift purposes, so they carry lots of flotation compartments or foam, which prevents sinking. Because they travel above the surface on a cushion of air, hovercraft fly over obstacles rather than colliding with them. As an example, a hovercraft can fly over a person on dry land without harming them and can even fly over eggs without cracking them! And because hovercraft tend to operate where no other vehicle can go, the risk of vehicle-to-vehicle crashes is extremely low.
Are Neoteric hovercraft less noisy than other hovercraft?
Yes, they are. Noise is generated whenever air moves and all vehicles that consume large quantities of air create noise. Shape your lips into a small circle. Gently blow through this circle and you’ll barely hear any noise. Now insert your tongue close to the circle and you’ll hear a whistle. This is caused by the air tumbling and creating vortices which impact each other and generate a sound wave. The high velocity air flowing upstream and downstream from a hovercraft’s fan impacts the fan and its stationary blades, which generates vortices that produce noise. Vibrating structural components also contributes to hovercraft noise. Minimizing the number of vortices and the amount of vibration will result in less noise.
Neoteric hovercraft are specifically designed and engineered to produce a vehicle that minimizes noise. Smooth intake air flow, no loose or vibrating structural elements, and properly designed engine intake and exhaust give the Hovertrek one of the lowest noise signatures of any hovercraft on the market.
Will a hovercraft float?
Yes. The Neoteric Hovertrek hull utilizes composite construction with US Coast Guard certified closed cell 2 lbs/cu. ft. (32 Kg/cu. meter) density BASF polyurethane foam. A total of 17 cu. ft. (0.48 cu. meters) of foam provides over 1,000 lbs. [454Kg] of positive buoyancy. In addition, the cockpit area affords an additional 1,000 lbs. [454Kg] of floatation. When totally swamped with water, the hovercraft remains floating and stable.
See a cross section of a Hovertrek Hull
Are hovercraft easy to operate?
First, it is necessary to understand that you are actually flying -- low to the ground, but flying nonetheless. Therefore, you will need proper pilot training to ensure safe, enjoyable hovering. At Neoteric, great care is taken in preparing you for your first "hover". Before your first flight, you are schooled in the principles and preventative maintenance of hovercraft. Then, you will spend several hours hovering on land and water until you achieve sufficient pilot experience to receive Neoteric's certification of competency.
How is a hovercraft steered and stopped?
Hovercraft are flying machines that fly close to the Earth’s surface, so their controls are much like the controls of an airplane. Steering is achieved through the use of a system of rudders behind the fan, controlled by handlebars up front. Steering can also be controlled by the pilot and passenger displacing their body weight, a skill achieved through practice. Neoteric hovercraft offer another option for steering and stopping: patented reverse thrust buckets. This is the only system available today that lets the hovercraft pilot reverse at speed, hover while stationary and brake (a must on ice).
Can a hovercraft be driven on the road?
It’s first necessary to understand that roads are designed to be used by cars and have a camber, or slightly convex surface. This causes very unstable driving conditions for hovercraft. Also, the abrasiveness of the road's surface causes excess skirt wear. Therefore, while road travel is possible, it isn’t recommended.
How fast will a hovercraft go?
Depending upon the effects of terrain and weather, the average speed of hovercraft is 35 mph (56 km/h), faster on ice or when going downwind, slower when on dense grass or rough surfaces, or when there is a headwind.
What is the gas mileage of a hovercraft?
As with most vehicles, the mileage is affected by climate conditions and the way in which it is driven. Generally, you can expect to get as little as 2-3 gph (7.6-11.4 l/h) of fuel consumption.
What is the payload?
The Hovertrek is designed to carry four people with an average weight of about 170 lb (78 kg) each. Payload can be increased dramatically depending on the experience of the driver and the condition of the terrain. For example, when flying over smooth ice, up to 1200 lb (546 kg) could be carried.
Can a hovercraft operate on ice?
Unlike most other vehicles, a hovercraft flies safely and easily over ice – even thin or broken ice – because it hovers above the surface on a cushion of air. The hovercraft is becoming increasingly popular as an ice fishing vehicle. And first responders worldwide recognize the hovercraft as the only rescue vehicle able to perform fast, safe rescue operations on swift water, thin or broken ice, flood waters and snow. A hovercraft keeps rescuers above the danger – not in it – and lets them access areas a boat or helicopter can’t reach.
Can a hovercraft be used on swift water and rough waves?
Since the hovercraft hovers on a 9 in (228mm) cushion of air, the ride is very smooth and small waves are not noticed. Larger waves can be handled providing their crests are spaced well apart. Operation in surf, and even in Class 5 whitewater, is possible with an experienced driver, but hovercraft operate best on sheltered water and over smooth ice.
Do you need a license to pilot a hovercraft?
No. Hovercraft come under U.S. Coast Guard jurisdiction. When you buy a hovercraft, you will be assigned a Coast Guard hull identification number (HIN). These numbers are free and, if you decide to purchase a partially assembled Hovertrek™, your number will be provided by Neoteric. Using this number, you then register your vehicle as a boat. Some states may require an ATV license as well. Overseas customers should consult your local hoverclub or marine authority.
Do you need insurance to operate a hovercraft?
Some people add hovercraft to their Home Owner's Insurance. It's important to call it a 'boat' and not a 'hovercraft' when talking to insurance companies. Legally, hovercraft are boats, and under US Federal Law, Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc. is considered to be a boat manufacturer. Keep in mind that it will always be less costly to add your hovercraft insurance to an existing policy or policies than it would be to purchase a stand-alone policy.
Contact the following companies through your agent:
Markel American Insurance
P.O. Box 906 Pewaukee, WI 53072-09066
American Modern Insurance Group
P.O. Box 5323 Cincinnati, OH 45201-5323
Who invented the hovercraft?
During the 1950s, an Englishman by the name of Christopher Cockerell developed and patented the first hovercraft. For his contribution to the British people and the Queen, he was knighted and named "Sir" Christopher Cockerell. Soon after, British Hovercraft Corporation developed the first commercial hovercraft for passenger transport across the English Channel. With the ability to carry up to 400 passengers and 50 automobiles, these passenger hovercraft have operated since 1968 and have carried more than 30 million passengers and 5 million automobiles.
How large of a "step" can a hovercraft handle?
With an experienced pilot, it is possible for the Hovertrek™ to handle a 24" (610mm) drop. Stepping up is usually limited to the hoverheight of 9" (229mm). If the step is gradual, greater heights may be traversed.
What slope can a hovercraft climb?
The Hovertrek™ will accommodate a gradient of 1 in 6 (16.7%) [Note: a 45° slope = 100%], standing start, smooth surface, 400 lb (181 kg) payload. It can climb much more easily when the slope is approached at a running start than if standing still. Generally it is easier to ascend than to descend.
What does "Neoteric" stand for?
Meaning novel and contemporary, this word was chosen to exemplify our company's clientele, for they are individuals who want the latest and most unique technology.
What does "Hovertrek™" stand for?
With 'hover' meaning to remain suspended in air above a surface, and 'trek' meaning to make a difficult journey, Neoteric invented the name Hovertrek™ to symbolize their clientele's ideal: accessing hitherto unreachable terrain. This, of course, does not exclude its use for any purpose its owner may conceive.
Can you buy a hovercraft kit and build it yourself?
Yes. Not only does Neoteric offer fully assembled hovercraft, we also sell the only production hovercraft available in do-it-yourself, partially assembled hovercraft kits. This lets you save 25% and enjoy the process of building a hovercraft with your friends or family.
How difficult is it to assemble the hovercraft?
The basic partially assembled hovercraft takes about 40 hours to finish. Most of the work has already been completed at the factory. The machinery module is fully assembled and tested, along with the wiring harness, instruments, etc. The hull and body are already bonded. All you need are basic workshop skills, a work area the size of a one-car garage, and common hand tools such as electric drill, a pop rivet gun, sets of open-ended and allen wrenches, and a set of screwdrivers.
How is a hovercraft transported?
The Hovertrek™ is trailer-able and can be hitched up by one person in less than two minutes. Simply hover up to the end of the trailer, attach the winch cable to the craft, lift the trailer tongue and place the rear rollers under the front of the craft. Crank the winch until the craft is completely on the trailer. Fasten the locking arms at the rear, hitch the trailer to your vehicle, and go.
What are other safety and legal aspects of owning a hovercraft?
All Neoteric hovercraft comply with all U.S. Coast Guard boating laws. Our craft also comply with the regulations of the World Hovercraft Federation as well as with the Hoverclub of America, Inc. and the Hoverclub of Great Britain Ltd. "Requirements for the Design, Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Light Hovercraft". Hovercraft should be operated in areas where the public, personal safety, and ecology are not placed in danger.