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Hovercraft

Hovercraft

Overview


A hovercraft (air-cushion vehicle, ACV) is a craft
Craft (vehicle)
The word craft since the 17th century has denoted a vehicle or vessel that is used for transportation on the sea, in the air or in space. But it can be applied to fictional vessels such as time craft, dimensional craft, and probability craft...

 capable of traveling over surfaces while supported by a cushion of slow moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained within a "skirt." Although supported by air, a hovercraft is not considered an aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

.

Hovercraft are used throughout the world as specialized transports.
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Encyclopedia


A hovercraft (air-cushion vehicle, ACV) is a craft
Craft (vehicle)
The word craft since the 17th century has denoted a vehicle or vessel that is used for transportation on the sea, in the air or in space. But it can be applied to fictional vessels such as time craft, dimensional craft, and probability craft...

 capable of traveling over surfaces while supported by a cushion of slow moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained within a "skirt." Although supported by air, a hovercraft is not considered an aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

.

Hovercraft are used throughout the world as specialized transports. They can also be used after a natural disaster for emergency purposes. Because they are supported by a cushion of air, hovercraft are unique among all other forms of ground transportation in their ability to travel equally well over land, ice, and water. Small hovercraft are used for sport or passenger service, while giant hovercraft have civilian and military applications, and are used to transport cars, tanks, and large equipment in hostile environments and terrain.

Early efforts


The first mention in the historical record of the principles behind hovering and hoverboats was by Swedish scientist Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg
was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

 in 1716.

In 1915 Austrian Dagobert Müller built the world's first air-cushion vehicle. It flew for three and a half minutes. Shaped like a section of a large aerofoil, the craft was propelled by four aero engines driving two submerged marine propellers, with a fifth engine that blew air under the front of the craft to increase the air pressure under it. In motion, the craft also trapped air under the front, increasing lift. Thus the is half-way between the ram-air vehicles similar to later Soviet designs, and the modern hovercraft that uses air forced into a skirt. Designed as a fast torpedo boat
Torpedo boat
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

, the had a top speed over 32 knots (62.7 km/h). It was thoroughly tested and even armed with torpedoes and machine guns for operation in the Adriatic. It never saw actual combat, however, and as the war progressed it was eventually scrapped due to lack of interest and perceived need, and its engines returned to the Air Force.

The theoretical grounds for motion over an air layer were constructed by Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovskii in 1926 and 1927.

The first design that would be recognized as a true hovercraft was designed by Finnish aero engineer Toivo J. Kaario in 1931.http://tutkielmat.uta.fi/pdf/gradu01659.pdf Kaario's design included the modern features of a lift engine blowing air into a flexible envelope for lift. He built his first prototype, (Surface Soarer), in 1937.

Kaario never received funding to build his design, however. Kaario's efforts were followed closely by Vladimir Levkov in the Soviet Union, who returned to the solid-sided design of the and are today classified as ground effect vehicles. Levkov designed and built a number of similar craft during the 1930s, and his L-5 fast-attack boat reached 70 kn (137.2 km/h) in testing. However, the start of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 put an end to Levkov's development work.

Post-war progress


When the war ended a number of groups took up development of air-cushion vehicles again. The Soviets, specifically Rostislav Alexeyev
Rostislav Alexeyev
Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeyev , Russian Empire – February 9, 1980, Gorky, USSR) was a designer of highspeed shipbuilding. He invented and designed the world's first Ekranoplans. His work has been compared to that of A.N. Tupolev in aviation and S.P...

 and his Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau, returned to the ground effect design pioneered by Levkov, and produced a wide variety of such craft over the next 30 years. However, Alexeyev's systems were always experimental, and never entered production. Most famous among these is the Caspian Sea Monster, as it was known in the west, a massive missile-firing boat powered by eight jet engines. Unlike Levkov's design, however, these boats generally lacked a lift engine, used wings exclusively, and were less similar to western hovercraft than Levkov's design.

In Canada, John Carver Meadows Frost
John Carver Meadows Frost
John Carver Meadows Frost known as "Jack" was a British aircraft designer. His primary contributions centred on pioneering supersonic British experimental aircraft and as the chief designer who shepherded Canada's first jet fighter project, the Avro Canada CF-100, to completion...

 at Avro Canada
Avro Canada
Commonly known as Avro Canada, this company started in 1945 as an aircraft plant and became within thirteen years the third-largest company in Canada, one of the largest 100 companies in the world, and directly employing over 50,000...

 started experimenting with the Coandă effect
Coanda effect
The Coandă effect is the tendency of a fluid jet to be attracted to a nearby surface. The principle was named after Romanian aerodynamics pioneer Henri Coandă, who was the first to recognize the practical application of the phenomenon in aircraft development....

 and noticed that he could produce an annular ring of airflow by blowing the air down over a convex surface. This work led to the development of the Avrocar. He later turned to the United States for continued development funding. The Avrocar was more similar to the modern hovercraft in that it used lift engine blowing directly down, but unlike these designs it was expected to be able to fly at high speeds and altitudes. In testing it proved incapable of flying more than a few feet off the ground and at speeds greater than about 45 km/h, and after a lengthy period of testing the program was abandoned in 1961. Oddly, the same performance criteria were considered an outstanding success when considered in the shipping context, instead of aircraft.

Christopher Cockerell


The idea of the modern hovercraft is most often associated with Sir Christopher Cockerell
Christopher Cockerell
Sir Christopher Sydney Cockerell CBE FRS was an English engineer, inventor of the hovercraft.-Life:Cockerell was born in Cambridge, where his father, Sir Sydney Cockerell, was curator of the Fitzwilliam Museum, having previously been the secretary of William Morris. Christopher Cockerell was...

. Cockerell came across the key concept in his design when studying the ring of airflow when high-pressure air was blown into the annular area between two concentric tin cans, one coffee and the other from cat food. This produced an annular ring of airflow, as expected, but he noticed an unexpected benefit as well; the sheet of fast moving air presented a sort of physical barrier to the air on either side of it. This effect, which he called the "momentum curtain", could be used to trap high-pressure air in the area inside the curtain, providing lift based on pressure, not airflow. In theory, only a small amount of active airflow would be needed to create lift, much less than a design that relied only on the momentum of the air to provide lift, like Frost's Avrocar or a helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

. In terms of power, a hovercraft would only need between one quarter to half of the power required by a helicopter.

Cockerell built several models of his hovercraft design in the early 1950s, featuring an engine mounted to blow from the front of the craft into a cavity below it, combining both lift and propulsion. He demonstrated the model flying over many Whitehall
Whitehall
Whitehall is a road in Westminster, in London, England. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Square, towards Charing Cross at the southern end of Trafalgar Square...

 carpets in front of various government experts and ministers, and the design was subsequently put on the secret list. In spite of tireless efforts to arrange funding no branch of the military was interested, as he later noted, "The Navy said it was a plane not a boat; the Air Force said it was a boat not a plane; and the Army were 'plain not interested'".

SR.N1


This lack of military interest meant that there was no reason to keep the concept secret, and it was declassified. Cockerell was finally able to convince the National Research Development Corporation
National Research Development Corporation
The National Research Development Corporation was a non-departmental government body established by the British Government to transfer technology from the public sector to the private sector.-History:...

 to fund development of a full-scale model. In 1958 the NRDC placed a contract with Saunders Roe for the development of what would become the SR.N1, short for "Saunders Roe, Nautical 1". The SR.N1 was powered by a 450 hp Alvis Leonides
Alvis Leonides
-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9...

 engine powering a vertical fan in the middle of the craft. In addition to providing the lift air, a portion of the airflow was bled off into two channels on either side of the craft, which could be directed to provide thrust. In normal operation this extra airflow was directed rearward for forward thrust, and blew over two large vertical rudders that provided directional control.

SR.N1 made its first hover on 11 June 1959, and made its famed successful crossing of the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 on 25 July 1959. In December, 1959, the Duke of Edinburgh
Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke of Edinburgh is a British royal title, named after the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, which has been conferred upon members of the British royal family only four times times since its creation in 1726...

 visited Saunders Roe at East Cowes and persuaded the chief test-pilot, Commander Peter Lamb, to allow him to take over the SR.N1's controls. He flew SR.N1 so fast that he was asked to slow down a little. On examination of the craft afterwards, it was found that she had been dished in the bow due to excessive speed, damage which was never allowed to be repaired, and was from then on affectionately referred to as the 'Royal Dent'.

Skirts and other improvements


Testing quickly demonstrated that the idea of using a single engine to provide air for both the lift curtain and forward flight required too many trade-offs. A Blackburn Marboré
Turbomeca Marboré
|-See also:-References:* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9-External links:* *...

 for forward thrust and two large vertical rudders for directional control were added, producing the SR.N1 Mk II. A further upgrade with the Armstrong Siddeley Viper produced the Mk III. Further modifications, especially the addition of pointed nose and stern areas, produced the Mk IV.

Although the SR.N1 was successful as a testbed, the design hovered too close to the surface to be practical; at 23 cm even small waves would hit the bow. The solution was offered by Cecil Latimer-Needham
C.H. Latimer-Needham
Cecil Hugh Latimer-Needham was a British aircraft designer, inventor and aviation author. He is best remembered for the series of aircraft he designed for the Luton Aircraft company and his invention of the Hovercraft skirt for which he was granted a patent...

. In 1958 he suggested the use of two rings of rubber to produce a double-walled extension of the vents in the lower fuselage. When air was blown into the space between the sheets it exited the bottom of the skirt in the same way it formerly exited the bottom of the fuselage, re-creating the same momentum curtain, but this time at some distance from the bottom of the craft.

Latimer-Needham and Cockerell devised a 4 foot (1.22 m) high skirt design which was fitted to the SR.N1 to produce the Mk V, displaying hugely improved performance, with the ability to climb over obstacles almost as high as the skirt. In October 1961, Latimer-Needham sold his skirt patents to Westland
Westland Aircraft
Westland Aircraft was a British aircraft manufacturer located in Yeovil in Somerset. Formed as a separate company by separation from Petters Ltd just before the start of the Second World War, Westland had been building aircraft since 1915...

, who had recently taken over Saunders Roe's interest in the hovercraft. Experiments with the skirt design demonstrated a problem; it was originally expected that pressure applied to the outside of the skirt would bend it inward, and the now-displaced airflow would cause it to pop back out. What actually happened is that the slight narrowing of the distance between the walls resulted in less airflow, which in turn led to more air loss under that section of the skirt. The fuselage above this area would drop due to the loss of lift at that point, and this led to further pressure on the skirt.

After considerable experimentation, Denys Bliss at Hovercraft Development Ltd. found the solution to this problem. Instead of using two separate rubber sheets to form the skirt, a single sheet of rubber was bent into a U shape to provide both sides, with slots cut into the bottom of the U forming the annular vent. When deforming pressure was applied to the outside of this design, air pressure in the rest of the skirt forced the inner wall to move in as well, keeping the channel open. Although there was some deformation of the curtain, the airflow within the skirt was maintained and the lift remained relatively steady. Over time, this design evolved into individual extensions over the bottom of the slots in the skirt, known as "fingers".


Commercialisation


With these improvements the hovercraft became an effective transport system for high-speed service on water and shallow land, leading to widespread developments for military vehicles, search and rescue, and commercial operations. By 1962 many UK aviation and ship building firms were working on hovercraft designs, including Saunders Roe/Westland, Vickers-Armstrong, William Denny
William Denny and Brothers
William Denny and Brothers Limited, and often referred to simply as Denny, were a Scottish shipbuilding company.-History:The Company was founded by Peter Denny in 1840 and based in Dumbarton, on the River Clyde. Although the Denny yard was situated near the junction of the River Clyde and the River...

, Britten-Norman
Britten-Norman
Britten-Norman is a British aircraft manufacturer owned by members of the Zawawi family from the Sultanate of Oman, making it the last remaining UK independent commercial aircraft producer....

 and Folland
Folland
Folland Aircraft was a British aircraft manufacturing company which was active between 1937 and 1963.-History:British Marine Aircraft Ltd was formed in February 1936 to produce Sikorsky S-42-A flying boats under licence in the UK. The company built a factory on the western side of the Hamble...

. Small-scale ferry service started as early as 1962 with the launch of the Vickers-Armstrong VA-3. With the introduction of the SR.N4 in 1968, hovercraft had developed into useful commercial craft.

Another major pioneering effort of the early hovercraft era was carried out by Jean Bertin's firm in France. Bertin was an advocate of the "multi-skirt" approach, which used a number of smaller cylindrical skirts instead of one large one in order to avoid the problems noted above. During the early 1960s he developed a series of prototype designs, which he called "terraplanes" if they were aimed for land use, and "naviplanes" for water. The best known of these designs was the N500 Naviplane
N500 Naviplane
The N500 Naviplane was a French hovercraft built by SEDAM in Pauillac, Gironde.- Manufacture :Two models were built:...

, built for Seaspeed
Seaspeed
Seaspeed was the joint hovercraft operations of British Rail in association with the French SNCF....

 by SEDAM. The N500 could carry 400 passengers, 55 cars and 5 buses, and operated between Boulogne to Dover at an average speed of 74 knots (137 km/h).

Another discovery was that the total amount of air needed to lift the craft was a function of the roughness of the surface it traveled over. On flat surfaces, like pavement, the needed air pressure was so low that hovercraft were able to compete in energy terms with conventional systems like steel wheels. However, as the hovercraft lift system acted as both a lift and very effective suspension, it naturally lent itself to high-speed use where conventional suspension systems were considered too complex. This led to a variety of "hovertrain" proposals during the 1960s, including England's Tracked Hovercraft
Tracked Hovercraft
Tracked Hovercraft was an experimental high speed train developed in the United Kingdom during the 1960s. It combined two British inventions, the hovercraft and linear induction motor, in an effort to produce a train system that would provide 250 mph inter-city service with lowered capital...

 and France's Aérotrain
Aérotrain
The Aérotrain was a Hovertrain developed in France from 1965 to 1977. The lead engineer was Jean Bertin.The goal of the Aérotrain was similar to that of the magnetic levitation train: to suspend the train above the tracks so the only resistance is that of air resistance...

. In the U.S., Rohr Inc. and Garrett
Garrett AiResearch
Garrett AiResearch was a manufacturer of turboprop engines and turbochargers, and a pioneer in numerous aerospace technologies. It was previously known as Aircraft Tool and Supply Company, Garrett Supply Company, AiResearch Manufacturing Company, or simply AiResearch...

 both took out licenses to develop local versions of the Aérotrain. These designs competed with maglev systems in the high-speed arena, where their primary advantage was the very "low tech" tracks they needed. On the downside, the air blowing out from under the trains presented a unique problem in stations, and interest in them waned in the 1970s.

By the early 1970s the basic concept had been well developed, and the hovercraft had found a number of niche roles where its combination of features were advantageous. Today they are found primarily in military use for amphibious operations, search and rescue vehicles in shallow water, and sporting vehicles.



Design


Hovercraft can be powered by one or more engines. Small craft, such as the SR.N6, usually have one engine with the drive split through a gearbox. On vehicles with several engines, one usually drives the fan (or impeller
Impeller
An impeller is a rotor inside a tube or conduit used to increase the pressure and flow of a fluid.- Impellers in pumps :...

), which is responsible for lifting the vehicle by forcing high pressure air under the craft. The air inflates the "skirt" under the vehicle, causing it to rise above the surface. Additional engines provide thrust in order to propel the craft. Some hovercraft use ducting to allow one engine to perform both tasks by directing some of the air to the skirt, the rest of the air passing out of the back to push the craft forward.

Skirt development



American inventor Norman B. McCreary of Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and the largest city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 699,757 people in the 2010 census...

, is credited with inventing and patenting the "Double-Walled Flexible Skirt". The design first appeared in the Arkansas Gazette Newspaper on January 25, 1960 and later in Science and Mechanics Magazine in June 1960. Later known as the "Bag Skirt", it inflated around the edge of the hovercraft, and was a major technological development enabling hovercraft to more effectively travel over uneven terrain or waves. The "Bag Skirt" would raise and lower the hovercraft off the surface by inflation and deflation of the "Double-Walled Flexible Skirt". Later, fingers were added to the bottom of the skirt to compensate for wear and reduce drag. After this concept was made public in 1960, all hovercraft began utilizing a "Double-Walled Flexible Skirt" system for practical hovercraft operations , and additional development of the skirt would continue in the U.K under the supervision of British engineer Cecil Latimer-Needham. Initially the skirt was of equal length around the base of the hovercraft. In the mid-1960s it was discovered that the ability of hovercraft to overcome small obstacles was enhanced by adjusting the vehicle's pitch 15 degrees upward. This resulted in excess wear on the trailing skirts, which dragged along the surface and lasted only 20% as long as the bow skirt sections. The problem was overcome, beginning with the SR.N6, by angling the lower edge of the skirt 15 degrees so that it rested even with the surface while the vehicle maintains a 15 degree upward pitch.

Commercial


The British aircraft manufacturer Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe Limited was a British aero- and marine-engineering company based at Columbine Works East Cowes, Isle of Wight.-History:The name was adopted in 1929 after Alliot Verdon Roe and John Lord took a controlling interest in the boat-builders S.E. Saunders...

 developed the first practical man-carrying hovercraft, the SR.N1, which carried out several test programmes in 1959 to 1961 (the first public demonstration in 1959), including a cross-channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 test run in July 1959 piloted
Aviator
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

 by Peter ("Sheepy") Lamb, an ex-naval test pilot and the Chief Test Pilot at Saunders Roe. Christopher Cockerell was on board, and the flight took place on the 50th anniversary of Louis Blériot
Louis Blériot
Louis Charles Joseph Blériot was a French aviator, inventor and engineer. In 1909 he completed the first flight across a large body of water in a heavier-than-air craft, when he crossed the English Channel. For this achievement, he received a prize of £1,000...

's first aerial crossing.

The SR.N1 was powered by one (piston) engine
Engine
An engine or motor is a machine designed to convert energy into useful mechanical motion. Heat engines, including internal combustion engines and external combustion engines burn a fuel to create heat which is then used to create motion...

, driven by expelled air. Demonstrated at the Farnborough Airshow in 1960, it was shown that this simple craft could carry a load of up to 12 Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 with their equipment as well as the pilot and co-pilot with only a slight reduction in hover height proportional to the load carried. The SR.N1 did not have any skirt, using instead the peripheral air principle that Sir Christopher had patented. It was later found that the craft's hover height was improved by the addition of a skirt of flexible fabric or rubber around the hovering surface to contain the air. The skirt was an independent invention made by a Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 officer, C.H. Latimer-Needham
C.H. Latimer-Needham
Cecil Hugh Latimer-Needham was a British aircraft designer, inventor and aviation author. He is best remembered for the series of aircraft he designed for the Luton Aircraft company and his invention of the Hovercraft skirt for which he was granted a patent...

, who sold his idea to Westland
Westland Aircraft
Westland Aircraft was a British aircraft manufacturer located in Yeovil in Somerset. Formed as a separate company by separation from Petters Ltd just before the start of the Second World War, Westland had been building aircraft since 1915...

 (parent company of Saunders-Roe), and who worked with Sir Christopher to develop the idea further.

The first passenger-carrying hovercraft to enter service was the Vickers
Vickers
Vickers was a famous name in British engineering that existed through many companies from 1828 until 1999.-Early history:Vickers was formed in Sheffield as a steel foundry by the miller Edward Vickers and his father-in-law George Naylor in 1828. Naylor was a partner in the foundry Naylor &...

 VA-3, which in the summer of 1962 carried passengers regularly along the north Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 Coast from Moreton, Merseyside
Moreton, Merseyside
Moreton is a town on the north coast of the Wirral Peninsula, England. In the 2001 Census, it had a population of 17,670 ....

, to Rhyl
Rhyl
Rhyl is a seaside resort town and community situated on the north east coast of Wales, in the county of Denbighshire , at the mouth of the River Clwyd . To the west is the suburb of Kinmel Bay, with the resort of Towyn further west, Prestatyn to the east and Rhuddlan to the south...

. It was powered by two turboprop
Turboprop
A turboprop engine is a type of turbine engine which drives an aircraft propeller using a reduction gear.The gas turbine is designed specifically for this application, with almost all of its output being used to drive the propeller...

 aero-engines and driven by propellers
Propeller (aircraft)
Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...

.


During the 1960s Saunders-Roe developed several larger designs which could carry passengers, including the SR.N2, which operated across the Solent
Solent
The Solent is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually...

 in 1962 and later the SR.N6, which operated across the Solent from Southsea
Southsea
Southsea is a seaside resort located in Portsmouth at the southern end of Portsea Island in the county of Hampshire in England. Southsea is within a mile of Portsmouth's city centre....

 to Ryde
Ryde
Ryde is a British seaside town, civil parish and the most populous town and urban area on the Isle of Wight, with a population of approximately 30,000. It is situated on the north-east coast. The town grew in size as a seaside resort following the joining of the villages of Upper Ryde and Lower...

 on the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

 for many years. In 1963 the SR.N2 was used on an experimental service between Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare is a seaside resort, town and civil parish in the unitary authority of North Somerset, which is within the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. It is located on the Bristol Channel coast, south west of Bristol, spanning the coast between the bounding high ground of Worlebury...

 and Penarth
Penarth
Penarth is a town and seaside resort in the Vale of Glamorgan , Wales, 5.2 miles south west from the city centre of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff and lying on the north shore of the Severn Estuary at the southern end of Cardiff Bay...

 under the aegis of P & A Campbell
P and A Campbell
P & A Campbell Ltd of Bristol with its White Funnel Fleet became the dominant excursion-steamer operator in the Bristol Channel by the 1890s; and along the South Coast of England in the first half of the twentieth century.-The White Funnel fleet:...

, the paddle steamer
Paddle steamer
A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat, powered by a steam engine, using paddle wheels to propel it through the water. In antiquity, Paddle wheelers followed the development of poles, oars and sails, where the first uses were wheelers driven by animals or humans...

 operators.

Operations by Hovertravel
Hovertravel
Hovertravel is a ferry company operating from Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK. They are the only company operating in Britain with passenger hovercraft, after Hoverspeed stopped using their craft in favour of catamarans...

 commenced on July 24, 1965 using the SR.N6 which carried just 38 passengers. Two 98 seat AP1-88 hovercraft were introduced on this route in 1983, and in 2007 these were joined by the first 130 seater BHT130 craft. The AP1-88 and the BHT130 were notable as they were largely built by Hoverwork using shipbuilding techniques/materials (i.e. welded aluminium structure and diesel engines) rather than the aircraft techniques used to build the earlier craft built by Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe Limited was a British aero- and marine-engineering company based at Columbine Works East Cowes, Isle of Wight.-History:The name was adopted in 1929 after Alliot Verdon Roe and John Lord took a controlling interest in the boat-builders S.E. Saunders...

/British Hovercraft Corporation
British Hovercraft Corporation
British Hovercraft Corporation was the corporate entity created when the Saunders Roe division of Westland Aircraft and Vickers Supermarine combined March 1966 with the intention of creating viable commercial hovercraft - .None of the Vickers designs were 'taken forward', the...

. Over 20 million passengers had used the service as of 2004 – the service is still operating (2010) and is by far the longest, continuously operated hovercraft service.

In 1966, two cross-channel passenger hovercraft services were inaugurated using SR.N6 hovercraft. Hoverlloyd
Hoverlloyd
Hoverlloyd operated a cross-Channel hovercraft service between Ramsgate, England to Calais, France. It operated four SR.N4 type hovercraft and was a rival to Seaspeed .-Company ownership:...

 ran services from Ramsgate
Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century and is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque Ports. It has a population of around 40,000. Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline and its main...

 Harbour, England, to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

, France, and Townsend Ferries
European Ferries
European Ferries Group Plc was a company that operated in passenger and freight ferries, harbour operation and property management in the United Kingdom and the United States...

also started a service to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 from Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

, which was soon superseded by that of Seaspeed
Seaspeed
Seaspeed was the joint hovercraft operations of British Rail in association with the French SNCF....

.

As well as Saunders-Roe and Vickers (which combined in 1966 to form the British Hovercraft Corporation
British Hovercraft Corporation
British Hovercraft Corporation was the corporate entity created when the Saunders Roe division of Westland Aircraft and Vickers Supermarine combined March 1966 with the intention of creating viable commercial hovercraft - .None of the Vickers designs were 'taken forward', the...

 (BHC)), other commercial craft were developed during the 1960s in the UK by Cushioncraft
Cushioncraft
Cushioncraft Ltd was a British engineering company, formed in 1960 as a division of Britten-Norman Ltd to develop/build hovercraft. Originally based at Bembridge Airport on the Isle of Wight, Cushioncraft later moved to the Duver Works at St...

 (part of the Britten-Norman
Britten-Norman
Britten-Norman is a British aircraft manufacturer owned by members of the Zawawi family from the Sultanate of Oman, making it the last remaining UK independent commercial aircraft producer....

 Group) and Hovermarine based at Woolston
Woolston, Southampton
Woolston is a suburb of Southampton, Hampshire, located on the eastern bank of the River Itchen. It is bounded by the River Itchen, Hampshire, Sholing, Peartree Green, Itchen and Weston.The area is rich in maritime and aviation history...

 (the latter being 'Sidewall Hovercraft'
Surface effect ship
A Surface Effect Ship or Sidewall Hovercraft is a watercraft that has both an air cushion, like a hovercraft, and twin hulls, like a catamaran. When the air cushion is in use, a small portion of the twin hulls remain in the water...

, where the sides of the hull projected down into the water to trap the cushion of air with 'normal' hovercraft skirts at the bow
Bow (ship)
The bow is a nautical term that refers to the forward part of the hull of a ship or boat, the point that is most forward when the vessel is underway. Both of the adjectives fore and forward mean towards the bow...

 and stern
Stern
The stern is the rear or aft-most part of a ship or boat, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to the taffrail. The stern lies opposite of the bow, the foremost part of a ship. Originally, the term only referred to the aft port section...

). One of these models, the HM-2, was used by Red Funnel
Red Funnel
The Southampton Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited, which trades as Red Funnel, is a ferry company that carries passengers and vehicles on routes between the English mainland and the Isle of Wight...

 between Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

 (near the Woolston Floating Bridge) and Cowes
Cowes
Cowes is an English seaport town and civil parish on the Isle of Wight. Cowes is located on the west bank of the estuary of the River Medina facing the smaller town of East Cowes on the east Bank...

.

The world's first car-carrying hovercraft was made in 1968, the BHC Mountbatten class (SR.N4) models, each powered by four Rolls-Royce Proteus
Bristol Proteus
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9* Hooker, Sir Stanley. Not Much Of An Engineer. Airlife Publishing, 1985. ISBN 1853102857....

 gas turbine
Gas turbine
A gas turbine, also called a combustion turbine, is a type of internal combustion engine. It has an upstream rotating compressor coupled to a downstream turbine, and a combustion chamber in-between....

 engines. These were both used by rival operators Hoverlloyd
Hoverlloyd
Hoverlloyd operated a cross-Channel hovercraft service between Ramsgate, England to Calais, France. It operated four SR.N4 type hovercraft and was a rival to Seaspeed .-Company ownership:...

 and Seaspeed
Seaspeed
Seaspeed was the joint hovercraft operations of British Rail in association with the French SNCF....

 to operate regular car and passenger carrying services across the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

. Hoverlloyd operated from Ramsgate
Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century and is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque Ports. It has a population of around 40,000. Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline and its main...

, where a special hoverport
Hoverport
A hoverport is a terminal for hovercraft, having passenger facilities where needed and infrastructure to allow the hovercraft to come on land. Today, only a small number of civilian hoverports remain, due to the relatively high fuel consumption of hovercrafts compared to traditional ferries...

 had been built at Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay is a shallow inlet in the English Channel coast at the estuary of the River Stour between Ramsgate and Sandwich in Kent. Situated in the bay is a large nature reserve, known for its migrating waders and wildfowl, with a complete series of seashore habitats including extensive mudflats...

, to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

. Seaspeed operated from Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

, England, to Calais and Boulogne
Boulogne-sur-Mer
-Road:* Metropolitan bus services are operated by the TCRB* Coach services to Calais and Dunkerque* A16 motorway-Rail:* The main railway station is Gare de Boulogne-Ville and located in the south of the city....

 in France. The first SR.N4 had a capacity of 254 passengers and 30 cars, and a top speed of 83 kn (162.7 km/h). The Channel crossing took around 30 minutes and was run rather like an airline
Airline
An airline provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit...

 with flight numbers. The later SR.N4 Mk.III had a capacity of 418 passengers and 60 cars to the Isle of Wight . These were later joined by the French-built SEDAM
Sedam
Sedam, or Seram, is a town in Gulbarga district in the Indian state of Karnataka. It is also the headquarters of the Sedam Taluk.-Geography:The town is spread over an area of ....

 N500 Naviplane
N500 Naviplane
The N500 Naviplane was a French hovercraft built by SEDAM in Pauillac, Gironde.- Manufacture :Two models were built:...

 with a capacity of 385 passengers and 45 cars; only one entered service and was used intermittently for a few years on the cross-channel service until returned to SNCF
SNCF
The SNCF , is France's national state-owned railway company. SNCF operates the country's national rail services, including the TGV, France's high-speed rail network...

 in 1983. The service ceased in 2000 after 32 years, due to competition with traditional ferries, catamaran
Catamaran
A catamaran is a type of multihulled boat or ship consisting of two hulls, or vakas, joined by some structure, the most basic being a frame, formed of akas...

, the disappreance of duty-free
Duty-free shop
Duty-free shops are retail outlets that are exempt from the payment of certain local or national taxes and duties, on the requirement that the goods sold will be sold to travelers who will take them out of the country...

 shopping within the EU and the advancing age of the SR.N4 hovercraft and the opening of the Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is a undersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is deep...

.

The commercial success of hovercraft suffered from rapid rises in fuel prices during the late 1960s and 1970s following conflict in the Middle East. Alternative over-water vehicles such as wave-piercing catamarans (marketed as the SeaCat
SeaCat
SeaCat was the marketing name used by Sea Containers Ferries Scotland for its services between Northern Ireland, Scotland and England between 1992 and 2004. The company was originally based in Stranraer later moving to Belfast...

 in the UK until 2005) use less fuel and can perform most of the hovercraft's marine tasks. Although developed elsewhere in the world for both civil and military purposes, except for the Solent
Solent
The Solent is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually...

 Ryde to Southsea crossing, hovercraft disappeared from the coastline of Britain until a range of Griffon Hovercraft
Griffon Hovercraft
Griffon Hoverwork Ltd is a British hovercraft designer and manufacturer. It was founded after Griffon Hovercraft Ltd of Southampton, and Hoverwork Ltd of the Isle of Wight, were acquired by the Bland Group in 2008, then merged in 2009 .-History:...

 were bought by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as on selected inland waterways....

.

Civilian non-commercial


In Finland, small hovercraft are widely used in maritime rescue and during the rasputitsa
Rasputitsa
The rasputitsa refers to the biannual seasons when unpaved roads become difficult to traverse in parts of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The word may be translated as the "quagmire season" because during this period the large flatlands become extremely muddy and marshy, as do most unpaved roads...

 ("mud season") as archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 liaison vehicles. In England, hovercraft of the Burnham-on-Sea
Burnham-on-Sea
Burnham-on-Sea is a town in Somerset, England, at the mouth of the River Parrett and Bridgwater Bay. Burnham was a small village until the late 18th century, when it began to grow because of its popularity as a seaside resort. It forms part of the parish of Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge...

 Area Rescue Boat (BARB) are used to rescue people from thick mud in Bridgwater Bay
Bridgwater Bay
Bridgwater Bay is on the Bristol Channel, north of Bridgwater in Somerset, England at the mouth of the River Parrett and the end of the River Parrett Trail. It consists of large areas of mud flats, saltmarsh, sandflats and shingle ridges, some of which are vegetated...

. Avon Fire and Rescue Service
Avon Fire and Rescue Service
Avon Fire & Rescue Service is the fire and rescue service covering the unitary authorities of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire in South West England.-History:...

 became the first Local Authority fire service in the UK to operate a hovercraft. It is used to rescue people from thick mud in the Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare is a seaside resort, town and civil parish in the unitary authority of North Somerset, which is within the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. It is located on the Bristol Channel coast, south west of Bristol, spanning the coast between the bounding high ground of Worlebury...

 area and during times of inland flooding.
A Griffon rescue Hovercraft has been in use for a number of years with the Airport Fire Service at Dundee Airport in Scotland. It is used in the event of an aircraft ditching in the Tay estuary.
Numerous fire departments around the U.S./Canadian Great Lakes operate hovercraft for water and ice rescues, often of ice fisherman stranded when ice breaks off from shore.

In October 2008 The Red Cross commenced a flood-rescue service hovercraft based in Inverness
Inverness
Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland...

, Scotland. Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service
The Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory emergency fire and rescue service for the county of Gloucestershire, England. The service is run by Gloucestershire County Council....

 received two flood-rescue hovercraft donated by Severn Trent Water
Severn Trent
Severn Trent plc is a British public utility. It is traded on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.Severn Trent is a group of companies employing more than 15,000 people across the UK, US and mainland Europe, with some involvement in the Middle East.The main...

 following the 2007 UK floods
2007 United Kingdom floods
The 2007 United Kingdom floods were a series of destructive floods that occurred in various areas across the country during the summer of 2007. The most severe floods occurred across Northern Ireland on 12 June; East Yorkshire and The Midlands on 15 June; Yorkshire, The Midlands, Gloucestershire,...

.

Since 2006 hovercraft have been used in aid in Madagascar by HoverAid, an international NGO who use the hovercraft to reach the most remote places on the island.
The Scandinavian airline SAS
Scandinavian Airlines System
Scandinavian Airlines or SAS, previously Scandinavian Airlines System, is the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and the largest airline in Scandinavia....

 used to charter
Charter
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified...

 an AP1-88 hovercraft for regular passengers between Copenhagen Airport
Copenhagen Airport
Copenhagen Airport is the main international airport serving Copenhagen, Denmark and the Oresund Region. It is located on the island of Amager, south of Copenhagen city centre, and west of Malmö city centre on the other side of the Oresund Bridge. The airport lies mainly in the municipality...

, Denmark, and the SAS Hovercraft Terminal in Malmö
Malmö
Malmö , in the southernmost province of Scania, is the third most populous city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg.Malmö is the seat of Malmö Municipality and the capital of Skåne County...

, Sweden.

In 1998, the US Postal Service began using the British built Hoverwork AP1-88 to haul mail, freight, and passengers from Bethel, Alaska
Bethel, Alaska
Bethel is a city located near the west coast of the U.S. state of Alaska, west of Anchorage. Accessible only by air and river, Bethel is the main port on the Kuskokwim River and is an administrative and transportation hub for the 56 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.Bethel is the largest...

, to and from eight small villages along the Kuskokwim River
Kuskokwim River
The Kuskokwim River or Kusko River is a river, long, in Southwest Alaska in the United States. It is the ninth largest river in the United States by average discharge volume at its mouth and seventeenth largest by basin drainage area.The river provides the principal drainage for an area of the...

. Bethel is far removed from the Alaska road system, thus making the hovercraft an attractive alternative to the air based delivery methods used prior to introduction of the hovercraft service. Hovercraft service is suspended for several weeks each year while the river is beginning to freeze to minimize damage to the river ice surface. The hovercraft is able to operate during the freeze-up period; however, this could potentially break the ice and create hazards for villagers using their snowmobiles along the river during the early winter.

In 2006 Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle USA built, under license, a cargo/passenger version of the Hoverwork BHT130. Designated 'Suna-X', it is used as a high speed ferry for up to 47 passengers and 47,500 pounds of freight serving the remote Alaskan villages of King Cove and Cold Bay.

An experimental service was operated in Scotland across the Firth of Forth
Firth of Forth
The Firth of Forth is the estuary or firth of Scotland's River Forth, where it flows into the North Sea, between Fife to the north, and West Lothian, the City of Edinburgh and East Lothian to the south...

 (between Kirkcaldy
Kirkcaldy
Kirkcaldy is a town and former royal burgh in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. The town lies on a shallow bay on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth; SSE of Glenrothes, ENE of Dunfermline, WSW of Dundee and NNE of Edinburgh...

 and Portobello, Edinburgh
Portobello, Edinburgh
Portobello is a beach resort located three miles to the east of the city centre of Edinburgh, along the coast of the Firth of Forth, in Scotland. It is now a suburb of Edinburgh, with a promenade fronting on to the wide sand beach....

), from 16 to 28 July 2007. Marketed as Forthfast, the service used a craft chartered from Hovertravel
Hovertravel
Hovertravel is a ferry company operating from Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK. They are the only company operating in Britain with passenger hovercraft, after Hoverspeed stopped using their craft in favour of catamarans...

  and achieved an 85% passenger load factor
Load factor (transportation)
Passenger load factor or load factoris a measure of the amount of utilisation of the total available capacity of a transport vehicle. It is useful for calculating the average occupancy on various routes of airlines, railway trains or bus...

. the possibility of establishing a permanent service is still under consideration.

Since the channel routes abandoned hovercraft, and pending any reintroduction on the Scottish route, the United Kingdom's only public hovercraft service is that operated by Hovertravel
Hovertravel
Hovertravel is a ferry company operating from Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK. They are the only company operating in Britain with passenger hovercraft, after Hoverspeed stopped using their craft in favour of catamarans...

 between Southsea
Southsea
Southsea is a seaside resort located in Portsmouth at the southern end of Portsea Island in the county of Hampshire in England. Southsea is within a mile of Portsmouth's city centre....

 (Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

) and Ryde
Ryde
Ryde is a British seaside town, civil parish and the most populous town and urban area on the Isle of Wight, with a population of approximately 30,000. It is situated on the north-east coast. The town grew in size as a seaside resort following the joining of the villages of Upper Ryde and Lower...

 on the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

.

From the 1960s, several commercial lines were operated in Japan, without much success. In Japan the last commercial line had linked Ōita Airport
Oita Airport
is an airport in Kunisaki, Ōita, Japan, northeast of Ōita.-Airlines and destinations:...

 and central Ōita
Oita, Oita
is the capital city of Ōita Prefecture located on the island of Kyushu, Japan.- Demographics and geography :Ōita is the most populous city in Ōita Prefecture...

 but was shut down in October 2009.


Military


First applications of the hovercraft in military use was with the SR.N1 through SR.N6 craft built by Saunders-Roe in the Isle of Wight in the UK and used by the UK joint forces. To test the use of the hovercraft in military applications the UK set up the Interservice Hovercraft Trials Unit (IHTU) base at Lee-on-the-Solent
Lee-on-the-Solent
Lee-on-the-Solent, often referred to as Lee-on-Solent, is a small seaside town in Hampshire, England about five miles west of Portsmouth. The town is located on the coast of the Solent and forms part of the borough of Gosport...

  (now the site of the Hovercraft Museum
Hovercraft Museum
The Hovercraft Museum, located in Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire, England, is dedicated to hovercraft.The museum has a large collection of various designs of hovercraft - numbering over sixty at the last count...

). This unit carried out trials on the SR.N1 from Mk1 through Mk5 as well as testing the SR.N2, SR.N3, SR.N5
SR.N5
The Saunders-Roe SR.N5 was a medium-sized hovercraft which first flew in 1964. It was the first production-built hovercraft in the world. A later "stretched" variant of the SR.N5 was produced in greater numbers as the SR.N6....

 and SR.N6 craft. Currently the Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 use the Griffon 2000 TDX Class ACV as an operational craft. The 2000 was deployed by the UK in Iraq.

In the US, during the 1960s, Bell
Bell Aircraft
The Bell Aircraft Corporation was an aircraft manufacturer of the United States, a builder of several types of fighter aircraft for World War II but most famous for the Bell X-1, the first supersonic aircraft, and for the development and production of many important civilian and military helicopters...

 licenced and sold the Saunders-Roe SR.N5 as the Bell SK-5. They were deployed on trial to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 by the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 as PACV
PACV
The Patrol Air Cushion Vehicle was a United States Navy river patrol hovercraft used during the Vietnam War.The PACV was based on Bell Aerosystems Bell SK-5 hovercraft; a licensed version of the British Saunders-Roe SR.N5 hovercraft. The SK-5 was adapted for American military use in 1965. Three...

patrol craft in the Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

 where their mobility
Motion (physics)
In physics, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time. Change in action is the result of an unbalanced force. Motion is typically described in terms of velocity, acceleration, displacement and time . An object's velocity cannot change unless it is acted upon by a force, as...

 and speed
Speed
In kinematics, the speed of an object is the magnitude of its velocity ; it is thus a scalar quantity. The average speed of an object in an interval of time is the distance traveled by the object divided by the duration of the interval; the instantaneous speed is the limit of the average speed as...

 was unique. This was used in both the UK SR.N5 curved deck
Deck (ship)
A deck is a permanent covering over a compartment or a hull of a ship. On a boat or ship, the primary deck is the horizontal structure which forms the 'roof' for the hull, which both strengthens the hull and serves as the primary working surface...

 configuration and later with modified flat deck, gun turret
Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...

 and grenade launcher
Grenade launcher
A grenade launcher or grenade discharger is a weapon that launches a grenade with more accuracy, higher velocity, and to greater distances than a soldier could throw it by hand....

 designated the 9255 PACV. The United States Army also experimented with the use of SR.N5 hovercraft in Vietnam. Three hovercraft with the flat deck configuration were deployed to Dong Tam in the Mekong delta region and later to Ben Luc. They saw action primarily in the Plain of Reeds. One was destroyed in early 1970 and another in August of that same year after which the unit was disbanded. The only remaining U.S. Army SR.N5 hovercraft is currently on display in the Army Transport Museum in Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. Experience led to the proposed Bell SK-10 which was the basis for the LCAC
Air-cushioned landing craft
An air cushioned landing craft, also called an LCAC is a modern variation on the amphibious landing boat. These craft are based on small- to mid-sized multi-purpose hovercraft, also known as "over the beach" craft...

-class air-cushioned landing craft
Air-cushioned landing craft
An air cushioned landing craft, also called an LCAC is a modern variation on the amphibious landing boat. These craft are based on small- to mid-sized multi-purpose hovercraft, also known as "over the beach" craft...

 now deployed by the U.S. and Japanese Navy.

The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 was the world's largest developer of military hovercraft. Their designs range from the small Czilim class ACV
Czilim class ACV
The Czilim class ACV is a small patrol hovercraft operated by the Border Guard Service of Russia.- Configuration :The Czilim class is the first new class of military hovercraft developed for the Russian military since the fall of the Soviet Union. It is based on an Almaz design and was ordered...

, comparable to the SR.N6, to the monstrous Zubr class LCAC
Zubr class LCAC
The Zubr class is a class of air-cushioned landing craft of soviet design. This class of military hovercraft is currently, as of 2008, the world’s largest hovercraft. There are currently nine ships in active service in the world. The Zubr is used by the Russian, Ukrainian, and Greek navies...

, the world's largest hovercraft. The Soviet Union was also one of the first nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

s to use a hovercraft, the Bora
Bora Class guided missile hovercraft
The Bora-class hoverborne guided missile corvette of the Russian Navy, also bears the NATO class name Dergach, is one of the few types of military surface effect ship built solely for marine combat purposes, rather than troop landing or transport...

, as a guided missile
Guided Missile
Guided Missile is a London based independent record label set up by Paul Kearney in 1994.Guided Missile has always focused on 'the underground', preferring to put out a steady flow of releases and developing the numerous GM events around London and beyond....

 corvette
Corvette
A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft , although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role...

, though this craft possessed rigid, non-inflatable sides. With the fall of the Soviet Union most Soviet military hovercraft fell into disuse and disrepair. Only recently has the modern Russian Navy begun building new classes of military hovercraft.

The Finnish Navy
Finnish Navy
The Finnish Navy is one of the branches of the Finnish Defence Forces. The Navy employs 2,300 people and about 4,300 conscripts are trained each year. Finnish Navy vessels are given the ship prefix "FNS" simply short for "Finnish Navy Ship"...

 designed an experimental missile attack hovercraft class, Tuuli class hovercraft
Tuuli class hovercraft
The Tuuli class combat hovercraft is a type of vessel designed for the Finnish Navy.The Tuuli class was also previously known as the T-2000 class. It takes its name from the decommissioned Tuima class FNS Tuuli missile boat...

, in the late 1990s. The prototype of the class, Tuuli, was commissioned in 2000. It proved an extremely successful design for a littoral
Littoral
The littoral zone is that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. It always includes this intertidal zone and is often used to...

 fast attack craft, but due to fiscal reasons and doctrinal change in the Navy, the hovercraft was soon withdrawn.

The Hellenic Navy
Hellenic Navy
The Hellenic Navy is the naval force of Greece, part of the Greek Armed Forces. The modern Greek navy has its roots in the naval forces of various Aegean Islands, which fought in the Greek War of Independence...

 operates four Russian-designed Zubr class LCAC
Zubr class LCAC
The Zubr class is a class of air-cushioned landing craft of soviet design. This class of military hovercraft is currently, as of 2008, the world’s largest hovercraft. There are currently nine ships in active service in the world. The Zubr is used by the Russian, Ukrainian, and Greek navies...

. This is the world’s largest military air-cushioned landing craft
Air-cushioned landing craft
An air cushioned landing craft, also called an LCAC is a modern variation on the amphibious landing boat. These craft are based on small- to mid-sized multi-purpose hovercraft, also known as "over the beach" craft...

.

The People's Army Navy of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 operates the Jingsah II class LCAC
Jingsah II class LCAC
The Jingsah II class LCAC is a medium size air-cushioned landing craft operated by the People's Liberation Army Navy of China.-Description:...

. This troop and equipment carrying hovercraft is roughly the Chinese equivalent of the U.S. Navy LCAC.

Recreational/Sport


Small commercially manufactured, kit or plan-built hovercraft are increasingly being used for recreational purposes such as inland racing and cruising on inland lakes and rivers, marshy areas, estuaries and inshore coastal waters.

The Cruising HoverClub UK is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and developing the safe & considerate operation of recreational cruising hovercraft. It organises training, informal hover-meets events around the UK, and provides support on the design and safe operation of coastal cruising hovercraft. It has an active and informative club member forum.

The Hovercraft Club of Great Britain, founded in 1966, regularly organizes inland and coastal hovercraft race events at various venues across the United Kingdom.

In August 2010 the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain hosted the World Hovercraft Championships at Towcester Racecourse
The World Hovercraft Championships are run under the auspices of the World Hovercraft Federation. . Similar events are also held in Europe and the US.

Hoverbarge


A real benefit of air cushion vehicles in moving heavy loads over difficult terrain, such as swamps, was overlooked by the excitement of the British Government funding to develop high-speed hovercraft. It was not until the early 1970s that the technology was used for moving a modular marine barge with a dragline on board for use over soft reclaimed land.

Mackace (Mackley Air Cushion Equipment), now known as Hovertrans, produced a number of successful Hoverbarges, such as the 250 ton payload “Sea Pearl” which operated in Abu Dhabi and the twin 160 ton payload "Yukon Princesses" which ferried trucks across the Yukon river to aid the pipeline build. Hoverbarges are still in operation today. In 2006, Hovertrans (formed by the original managers of Mackace) launched a 330 ton payload drilling barge in the swamps of Suriname.

The Hoverbarge technology is somewhat different from high-speed hovercraft, which has traditionally been constructed using aircraft technology. The initial concept of the air cushion barge has always been to provide a low-tech amphibious solution for accessing construction sites using typical equipment found in this area, such as diesel engines, ventilating fans, winches and marine equipment. The load to move a 200 ton payload ACV barge at 5 kn (9.8 km/h) would only be 5 tons. The skirt and air distribution design on the high-speed craft again is more complex as they have to cope with the air cushion being washed out by a wave and wave impact. The slow speed and large mono chamber of the hover barge actually helps reduce the effect of wave action giving a very smooth ride.

Hovertrains


Several attempts have been made to adopt air cushion technology for use in fixed track systems, in order to utilize the lower frictional forces for delivering high speeds. The most advanced example of this was the Aérotrain
Aérotrain
The Aérotrain was a Hovertrain developed in France from 1965 to 1977. The lead engineer was Jean Bertin.The goal of the Aérotrain was similar to that of the magnetic levitation train: to suspend the train above the tracks so the only resistance is that of air resistance...

, an experimental high speed hovertrain
Hovertrain
A hovertrain is a type of high-speed train that replaces conventional steel wheels with hovercraft lift pads, and the conventional railway bed with a paved road-like surface, known as the "track" or "guideway"...

 built and operated in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 between 1965 and 1977. The project was abandoned in 1977 due to lack of funding, the death of its lead engineer and the adoption of TGV
TGV
The TGV is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by SNCF Voyages, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator....

 by the French government as its high-speed ground transport solution.

A test track for a tracked hovercraft system was built at Earith
Earith
Earith is a village in the Fens of Cambridgeshire, England, south of Chatteris and east of Huntingdon. At Earith, two artificial diversion channels of the River Great Ouse, the Old Bedford River and the New Bedford River, leave the river on a course to Denver Sluice near Downham Market, where they...

 near Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It ran southwest from Sutton Gault, sandwiched between the Old Bedford River
Old Bedford River
The Old Bedford River is an artificial, partial diversion of the waters of the River Great Ouse in the Fens of Cambridgeshire, England. It was named after the fourth Earl of Bedford who contracted with the local Commission of Sewers to drain the Great Level of the Fens beginning in 1630.The idea of...

 and the smaller Counter Drain to the west. Careful examination of the site will still reveal traces of the concrete piers used to support the structure. The actual vehicle, RTV31, is preserved at Railworld
Railworld
Railworld is a railway museum in Peterborough.http://www.railworld.net/ It is located beside the Peterborough Nene Valley railway station but it is a separate organisation.-Exhibits:Alco switcher...

 in Peterborough
Peterborough
Peterborough is a cathedral city and unitary authority area in the East of England, with an estimated population of in June 2007. For ceremonial purposes it is in the county of Cambridgeshire. Situated north of London, the city stands on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea...

 and can be seen from trains, just south west of Peterborough railway station
Peterborough railway station
Peterborough railway station serves the city of Peterborough, England. It is located approximately north of London Kings Cross on the East Coast Main Line...

. The vehicle achieved 104 mph (167.4 km/h) on 7 February 1973 but the project was cancelled a week later. The project was managed by Tracked Hovercraft Ltd., with Denys Bliss as Director in the early 1970s, only to be axed by the Aerospace Minister, Michael Heseltine
Michael Heseltine
Michael Ray Dibdin Heseltine, Baron Heseltine, CH, PC is a British businessman, Conservative politician and patron of the Tory Reform Group. He was a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001 and was a prominent figure in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major...

. Records of this project are available from the correspondence and papers of Sir Harry Legge-Bourke, MP
Harry Legge-Bourke
Major Sir Edward Alexander Henry Legge-Bourke KBE was a British politician.He served alongside Jock Colville as a Page of Honour from 1926. Educated at Eton College and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Legge-Bourke was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards in 1934. He served there throughout...

 at Leeds University Library. Heseltine was accused by Airey Neave
Airey Neave
Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave DSO, OBE, MC was a British soldier, barrister and politician.During World War II, Neave was one of the few servicemen to escape from the German prisoner-of-war camp Oflag IV-C at Colditz Castle...

 and others of misleading the House of Commons when he stated that the government was still considering giving financial support to the Hovertrain, when the decision to pull the plug had already been taken by the Cabinet.

Despite promising early results, the Cambridge project was abandoned in 1973 due to financial constraints, but parts of the project were picked up by the engineering firm Alfred McAlpine
Alfred McAlpine
Alfred McAlpine plc was a British construction firm headquartered in London. It was a major road builder, and constructed over 10% of Britain's motorways, including the M6 Toll...

, only to be finally abandoned in the mid 1980s. The Tracked Hovercraft project and Professor Laithwaite's
Eric Laithwaite
Eric Roberts Laithwaite was a British electrical engineer, known as the "Father of Maglev" for his development of the linear induction motor and maglev rail system.- Biography :...

 Maglev train
Maglev train
Maglev , is a system of transportation that uses magnetic levitation to suspend, guide and propel vehicles from magnets rather than using mechanical methods, such as friction-reliant wheels, axles and bearings...

 system were contemporaneous, and there was intense competition between the two prospective British systems for funding and credibility.

At the other end of the speed spectrum, the Dorfbahn Serfaus
Dorfbahn Serfaus
The Dorfbahn Serfaus is an unusual underground air cushion funicular transit system in the Tyrolian village of Serfaus in Austria. The name literally translates as Serfaus Village Railway.-Overview:...

 has been in continuous operation since 1985. This is an unusual underground air cushion funicular
Funicular
A funicular, also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope; the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalance each other.-Operation:The basic principle of funicular...

 rapid transit
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 system, situated in the Austrian ski resort
Ski resort
A ski resort is a resort developed for skiing and other winter sports. In Europe a ski resort is a town or village in a ski area - a mountainous area, where there are ski trails and supporting services such as hotels and other accommodation, restaurants, equipment rental and a ski lift system...

 of Serfaus
Serfaus
Serfaus is a municipality in the district of Landeck in Tyrol, Austria. It is located at , with a population of 1,091 .-Geography:Serfaus is a small town located on a plateau in the upper Inn valley in Tyrol, Austria. It is well known for its connection to the Ski-Area "Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis" and its...

. Only 1280 m (4,199.5 ft) long, the line reaches a maximum speed of 25 mph (11.2 m/s). A similar system
Narita Airport Terminal 2 Shuttle System
The is an automated people mover used in Narita International Airport, Narita, Japan. This system started its operation on December 6, 1992.Narita International Airport, the international airport of the Greater Tokyo Area, opened the current Terminal 2 in 1992, as well as the shuttle system. The...

 also exists in Narita International Airport
Narita International Airport
is an international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area of Japan. It is located east of Tokyo Station and east-southeast of Narita Station in the city of Narita, and the adjacent town of Shibayama....

 near Tokyo, Japan.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the U.S. Department of Transport's Urban Mass Transit Administration
Federal Transit Administration
The Federal Transit Administration is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation that provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems. The FTA is one of ten modal administrations within the DOT...

 funded several hovertrain projects which were known as Tracked Air Cushion Vehicles or TACVs. They were also known as Aerotrains since one of the builders had a licence from Bertin's Aerotrain company. Three separate projects were funded. Research and development was carried out by Rohr, Inc.
Rohr, Inc.
Goodrich Aerostructures Group, formerly Rohr, Inc., is an aerospace manufacturing company based in Chula Vista, California, south of San Diego...

, Garrett AiResearch
Garrett AiResearch
Garrett AiResearch was a manufacturer of turboprop engines and turbochargers, and a pioneer in numerous aerospace technologies. It was previously known as Aircraft Tool and Supply Company, Garrett Supply Company, AiResearch Manufacturing Company, or simply AiResearch...

 and Grumman. The UMTA built an extensive test site in Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County, Colorado, United States. The population was 106,595 in 2010 census, making it the 246th most populous city in the United States....

, with different types of tracks for the different technologies used by the prototype contractors. They managed to build prototypes and do a few test runs before the funding was cut.

Non-transportation


The Hoover Constellation was a spherical canister-type vacuum cleaner
Vacuum cleaner
A vacuum cleaner, commonly referred to as a "vacuum," is a device that uses an air pump to create a partial vacuum to suck up dust and dirt, usually from floors, and optionally from other surfaces as well. The dirt is collected by either a dustbag or a cyclone for later disposal...

 notable for its lack of wheels. Floating on a cushion of air, it was a domestic
Home
A home is a place of residence or refuge. When it refers to a building, it is usually a place in which an individual or a family can rest and store personal property. Most modern-day households contain sanitary facilities and a means of preparing food. Animals have their own homes as well, either...

 hovercraft. They were not especially good as vacuum cleaners as the air escaping from under the cushion blew uncollected dust in all directions, nor as hovercraft as their lack of a skirt meant that they only hovered effectively over a smooth surface. Despite this, original Constellations are sought-after collectibles today.

The Flymo
Flymo
The Flymo hover mower was invented by Karl Dahlman in 1964 after seeing Sir Christopher Cockerell's Hovercraft machine. "Flymo" is a brand name of the Swedish company Husqvarna AB, formerly a part of Electrolux...

 is an air-cushion lawn mower
Lawn mower
A lawn mower is a machine that uses a revolving blade or blades to cut a lawn at an even length.Lawn mowers employing a blade that rotates about a vertical axis are known as rotary mowers, while those employing a blade assembly that rotates about a horizontal axis are known as cylinder or reel...

 which uses a fan on the cutter blade to provide lift. This allows it to be moved in any direction, and provides double-duty as a mulcher.

Preservation


Lee-on-the-Solent
Lee-on-the-Solent
Lee-on-the-Solent, often referred to as Lee-on-Solent, is a small seaside town in Hampshire, England about five miles west of Portsmouth. The town is located on the coast of the Solent and forms part of the borough of Gosport...

, Hampshire, England, is the home to the Hovercraft Museum
Hovercraft Museum
The Hovercraft Museum, located in Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire, England, is dedicated to hovercraft.The museum has a large collection of various designs of hovercraft - numbering over sixty at the last count...

 which houses the world's largest collection of hovercraft designs, including some of the earliest and largest. Much of the collection is housed within two retired SR.N4 hovercraft, and many hovercraft in the collection are operational.

Hovercraft are still in use between Ryde on the Isle of Wight and Southsea on the mainland. The service, operated by Hovertravel
Hovertravel
Hovertravel is a ferry company operating from Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK. They are the only company operating in Britain with passenger hovercraft, after Hoverspeed stopped using their craft in favour of catamarans...

, runs many times an hour and is the fastest way of getting on or off the island. Large passenger hovercraft are still manufactured on the Isle of Wight.

Records

  • World's Largest Civil Hovercraft - The BHC SR.N4 Mk.III, at 56.4 m (185 ft) length and 310 metric tons (305 long tons) weight, can accommodate 418 passengers and 60 cars.
  • World's largest military hovercraft - The Russian Zubr class LCAC
    Zubr class LCAC
    The Zubr class is a class of air-cushioned landing craft of soviet design. This class of military hovercraft is currently, as of 2008, the world’s largest hovercraft. There are currently nine ships in active service in the world. The Zubr is used by the Russian, Ukrainian, and Greek navies...

     at 57.6 meters length and a maximum displacement of 535 tons. This hovercraft can transport three T-80
    T-80
    The T-80 is a main battle tank designed and manufactured in the former Soviet Union. A development of the T-64, it entered service in 1976 and was the first production tank to be equipped with a gas turbine engine for main propulsion.the Swedish Stridsvagn 103 of 1971 used a gas turbine alongside...

     main battle tank
    Main battle tank
    A main battle tank , also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the heavy direct fire role of many modern armies. They were originally conceived to replace the light, medium, heavy and super-heavy tanks. Development was spurred onwards in the Cold War with the development...

    s (MBT), 140 fully equipped troops, or up to 130 tons of cargo. Four have been purchased by the Greek Navy.
  • English Channel
    English Channel
    The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

     crossing - 22 minutes by Princess Anne MCH
    Mountbatten class hovercraft
    The SR.N4 hovercraft was a large passenger and vehicle carrying hovercraft built by the British Hovercraft Corporation . BHC was formed by the merger of Saunders-Roe and Vickers Supermarine in 1966...

     SR.N4 Mk.III on September 14, 1995
  • World's Hovercraft Speed Record - September 18, 1995 - Speed Trials, Bob Windt (USA) 137.4 km/h (85.87 mph), 34.06 secs measured kilometre
  • Longest continuous use - The original prototype SR.N6 Mk.I (009) was in service for over twenty years, and logged a remarkable 22,000 hours of use. It is currently on display at the Hovercraft Museum
    Hovercraft Museum
    The Hovercraft Museum, located in Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire, England, is dedicated to hovercraft.The museum has a large collection of various designs of hovercraft - numbering over sixty at the last count...

     in Lee-on-the-Solent
    Lee-on-the-Solent
    Lee-on-the-Solent, often referred to as Lee-on-Solent, is a small seaside town in Hampshire, England about five miles west of Portsmouth. The town is located on the coast of the Solent and forms part of the borough of Gosport...

    , Hampshire
    Hampshire
    Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

    , England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

    .

See also


  • Airboat
  • Air Car (hovercraft)
    Air Car (hovercraft)
    The Air Car is a do-it-yourself hovercraft that can be built "in a weekend". It has been extensively advertised in the back of Boys' Life magazine.There are 4 different Air Car models, the third design has been copied many times....

  • Airboard
    Airboard
    The Airboard is the first commercially marketed single-person hovercraft/hoverboard.Kevin Inkster invented the world's first commercial hoverboard scooter, called the Airboard after being inspired by the Back to the Future movies....

  • Avrocar (aircraft)
    Avrocar (aircraft)
    The Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar was a VTOL aircraft developed by Avro Aircraft Ltd. as part of a secret U.S. military project carried out in the early years of the Cold War. The Avrocar intended to exploit the Coandă effect to provide lift and thrust from a single "turborotor" blowing exhaust out...

  • Bora class guided missile hovercraft
    Bora Class guided missile hovercraft
    The Bora-class hoverborne guided missile corvette of the Russian Navy, also bears the NATO class name Dergach, is one of the few types of military surface effect ship built solely for marine combat purposes, rather than troop landing or transport...

     
  • Coandă effect
    Coanda effect
    The Coandă effect is the tendency of a fluid jet to be attracted to a nearby surface. The principle was named after Romanian aerodynamics pioneer Henri Coandă, who was the first to recognize the practical application of the phenomenon in aircraft development....

  • Ekranoplan
  • Fluid bearing
    Fluid bearing
    Fluid bearings are bearings which support the bearing's loads solely on a thin layer of liquid or gas.They can be broadly classified as fluid dynamic bearings or hydrostatic bearings. Hydrostatic bearings are externally pressurized fluid bearings, where the fluid is usually oil, water or air, and...


  • Flymo
    Flymo
    The Flymo hover mower was invented by Karl Dahlman in 1964 after seeing Sir Christopher Cockerell's Hovercraft machine. "Flymo" is a brand name of the Swedish company Husqvarna AB, formerly a part of Electrolux...

  • Ground effect
  • Hoverboard
    Hoverboard
    A Hoverboard is a fictional hovering board used for personal transportation in the films Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III. Hoverboards resemble a skateboard without wheels. Through special effects the filmmakers depicted the boards hovering above the ground...

  • Hovercar
    Hovercar
    A hovercar is a transport vehicle appearing in works of fiction. It is used for personal transportation in the same way a modern automobile is employed. You must steer it, like you would a normal vehicle...

  • Hovercraft Museum
    Hovercraft Museum
    The Hovercraft Museum, located in Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire, England, is dedicated to hovercraft.The museum has a large collection of various designs of hovercraft - numbering over sixty at the last count...

     
  • Hovertrain
    Hovertrain
    A hovertrain is a type of high-speed train that replaces conventional steel wheels with hovercraft lift pads, and the conventional railway bed with a paved road-like surface, known as the "track" or "guideway"...

  • Hydrofoil
    Hydrofoil
    A hydrofoil is a foil which operates in water. They are similar in appearance and purpose to airfoils.Hydrofoils can be artificial, such as the rudder or keel on a boat, the diving planes on a submarine, a surfboard fin, or occur naturally, as with fish fins, the flippers of aquatic mammals, the...

  • LCAC
    Air-cushioned landing craft
    An air cushioned landing craft, also called an LCAC is a modern variation on the amphibious landing boat. These craft are based on small- to mid-sized multi-purpose hovercraft, also known as "over the beach" craft...


  • Pegasus (Hovercraft)
    Pegasus (Hovercraft)
    The Pegasus is a hovercraft vehicle made for educational purposes. The plans could have been purchased from an article in the January 1984 issue of Popular Mechanics....

  • Research Test Vehicle 31
  • Resonance method of ice destruction
    Resonance method of ice destruction
    The Resonance method of ice destruction can be used by any vehicle capable of traveling on ice cover with sufficient speed and imposing sufficient load. There have been cases of destruction of ice by flexural gravity waves produced by moving cars, trains on railway crossings, aircraft during...

  • Surface effect ship
    Surface effect ship
    A Surface Effect Ship or Sidewall Hovercraft is a watercraft that has both an air cushion, like a hovercraft, and twin hulls, like a catamaran. When the air cushion is in use, a small portion of the twin hulls remain in the water...

  • Tracked Hovercraft
    Tracked Hovercraft
    Tracked Hovercraft was an experimental high speed train developed in the United Kingdom during the 1960s. It combined two British inventions, the hovercraft and linear induction motor, in an effort to produce a train system that would provide 250 mph inter-city service with lowered capital...

  • Zubr class LCAC
    Zubr class LCAC
    The Zubr class is a class of air-cushioned landing craft of soviet design. This class of military hovercraft is currently, as of 2008, the world’s largest hovercraft. There are currently nine ships in active service in the world. The Zubr is used by the Russian, Ukrainian, and Greek navies...

  • Hovercraft "Dragonfly"
    Hovercraft "Dragonfly"
    "Dragonfly" is a Russian-built hovercraft. It is intended for transportation of people and cargoes on a variety of surfaces: snow of any density irrespective of layer thickness, continuous or beaten ice, water of any depth, boggy districts, and ground of any density. Also, consecutive alternations...



External links