OK, it’s got no wheels but it can have balls, depending on what you buy. If you’ve been under a rock for the past 10 years you might have missed the surge of interest in personal hovercraft among people looking for something a little different. So what is thing – does it fly, or move over the ground? Well, it moves for sure, but it can’t be called a plane or a boat, nor is it an automobile. It’s real name is Air Cushioned Craft (ACV) and they started out as great big passenger craft, made famous by zipping across the British Channel for few years. Well, they got smaller and they’ve found a whole lot of other uses, not the least of which is racing – check out the video below:
As you might imagine, these babies aren’t exactly built the same. From the first glance, they are all skirt and engine, if you know what I mean, but the skirt is nothing but an enclosure to keep in the air pressure generated by the fan behind the driver (pilot, operator?) Like any racing vehicle, power to weight ratio is vital and small personal racing hovercraft are no different, in fact it’s probably more critical. The hull is usually made from resin impregnated glass fiber – really rigid and light, but somewhat fragile. Hit a rock and bingo, bang goes your hull and the race.
They normally have just one engine for thrust and lift and these two stroke high revving engines are mostly aluminum cased. Everything else is stripped out so that it’s learn and mean. These craft tend to have quite a lot of accidents, as stopping and turning are definitely not there strong points – the driver has to throw his weight from side to side to turn, and stopping is an art in itself. After all, there’s no wheels on the ground, or propeller in the water to drag it to a stop. I guess in an emergency, you just turn off the fan and let the bottom of the hull drag across the ground – ouch! Read article: https://www.evernote.com/shard/s404/sh/922631a6-6aca-4597-ab36-2ea5350e85ea/cbbe11921bae64b33525b4b918d41839
An ordinary leisure type hovercraft can cruise at around 45kmh – see this site, but a Formula one ACV will go up to 80kmh, so it isn’t slow, particularly when the operator’s backside is so close to the ground, or should I say ‘surface’, because they can literally float over any flat terrain. I’m reliably informed that once you try it, you’re just hooked. Nothing else compares with the thrill of floating away from the competition (hopefully)!