The Personal Hovercraft

personal hovercraftFor years, hovercrafts were a thing of the future, a technology that had not yet been developed. However, these hovercraft dreams are now becoming a reality with the exponential growth of technology over the past few decades.

Personal hovercrafts are generally defined as any vehicle that creates a cushion of air between the bottom of the hovercraft and the ground to travel, and is used for personal rather than commercial use. They usually carry less than ten passengers, and some are even intended for just one or two people. They are also sometimes referred to as ACVs, or air cushion vehicles. There are many different types, ranging from high-tech racing vehicles to small leisure hovercrafts. They can also be developed to travel over different surfaces, including water, swamps, and varieties of lands.

Uses for Personal Hovercrafts

There are many different ways to use a hovercraft, and the possibilities are growing with the technological advancement of hovercraft design. Many people buy them because they work well for water-based hobbies such as fishing, duck hunting, scuba diving, and more. They also can easily cross terrain that other vehicles struggle with, such as marshland and thin ice, so they are ideal for those who own property on an island and need an efficient and safe way to get there. They are also commonly used by yacht owners to access their boats.

Many people also like to use them to race, especially in the summer months. ACV racing is becoming increasingly popular and is a fun and adrenaline-fueled sport. It is also becoming popular to take joyrides on hovercraft during the summer months with an experienced driver. Many families purchase hovercraft for personal use because they are relatively cost-efficient and easy to use.

History

Hovercrafts have been around for over fifty years, although they did not become popular for personal use until recently. The first modern-day hovercraft was developed in 1955 by Christopher Cockerell in Great Britain. The British government was so interested that they instantly classified it as a secret project, but then allowed civilian use to resume after a few years to speed up development. The heavy ones were then developed for military and commercial use, mainly to carry large amounts of passengers over water, ice, and swampland.

The light hovercraft, which is what personal hovercrafts are, started to develop in the mid 1960’s. The first hovercraft race occurred in 1964 in Canberra, Australia on Lake Burley Griffin. This sparked a huge boom in the hovercraft development industry in Australia. The industry also continued to grow in Great Britain and in the United States as well, giving us the personal hovercrafts we use today. The ones we know today were mostly developed in the 1970’s, although they have been improved for efficiency and comfort since then.

Technology

All hovercrafts create a cushion of air using strong blowers that the vehicle travels on. This cushion is contained by a skirt that encircles the bottom of the hovercraft. The high pressure created by the air blowers supports the vehicle and keeps it from falling. Most of the personal hovercrafts have lightweight engines that are just strong enough to power the vehicle without toppling it over. Larger ones will have a larger engine or may even have two engines. All light personal hovercraft are also propelled by fans or propellers, and some very small hovercraft may not even have engines and rely on just the flow of air to keep them moving forward.

There are also a few different ways to control them, depending on the type of hovercraft being used. Large hovercraft are steered with controls that move the skirt, which in turn moves the air cushion and the vehicle. However, this type of control is unnecessary in a smaller hovercraft. Some small ones are controlled with a steering wheel or joystick, which moves a vertical rudder and causes the vehicle to move. Other hovercrafts can be controlled just by moving within the vehicle, which shifts the balance of the hovercraft and causes it to move. This requires a lot of practice to do effectively, and these types are most often used for racing.

Types of Personal Hovercrafts

There are several different types of personal hovercrafts currently on the market. Each has various pros and cons, and some types are best suited for certain activities.

Racing Hovercraft

The first common kind is the racing hovercraft. These are specifically designed to move at high speeds, and some even go up to over 100 miles per hour. They usually just seat one person, as this helps them move faster.

Transportation Hovercraft

They also vary in sizes. Some seat just one or two passengers, while others may sit up to five (although this is usually a very tight fit and is not recommended). The latter do not move as fast as the one or two-seaters, and usually have maximum speeds of around 70 miles per hour. These are better equipped to carry heavy loads, and are the best choice for general transportation. They are also usually easier to operate than the racing hovercrafts.

DYI Hovercraft Kit

A very popular type right now is the do-it-yourself hovercraft. These come in kits containing all the necessary parts, and are assembled by the user. For those who are technologically savvy and don’t mind building their own vehicle, this is a very cost efficient way to own a hovercraft. They also help you understand exactly what goes into making one. These hovercraft kits come in all sizes, ranging from single seaters to large group hovercraft that seat up to ten people.

Hovercraft Price

Personal hovercrafts are actually relatively inexpensive for a vehicle of their size, especially when purchased in a kit. A kit for a one-person vehicle can come in at under $100, while larger kits may cost up to $3,000 or more. Racing types may cost more and are more difficult to get a hold of, because they have powerful engines. Overall, hovercrafts are a great purchase for those looking for a fun new outdoor hobby and you can find them for sale from online vendors.