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What is a Hover Craft?

By T Thompson
Updated May 17, 2024
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A hover craft is a type of vehicle that is supported on a cushion of air. They can be driven on a wide variety of terrain, can travel on water, and are often called Air-Cushion Vehicles. The hover craft was invented in 1952 by Sir Christopher Cockerell, who used a simple experiment with a vacuum cleaner motor and two cylindrical cans to prove the principle that a vehicle suspended on a cushion of air would increase the mobility of the vehicle and allow it to traverse a wider variety of terrains.

The first practical hover craft, that supported passengers, was developed by British aircraft manufacturer Saunders Roe. This hover craft was called the SR-N1, and was first exhibited to the public in 1959. It was powered by one piston engine and driven by expelled air. It could barely carry two men, much less any equipment. It was followed by the Vickers VA-3, which began carrying passengers regularly in 1961. The VA-3 was propeller-driven and powered by two aero-engines. The latest hover craft usually have two or more engines, one being the impeller, or engine that lifts the vehicle by forcing air into the skirt; the other engine provides the thrust that propels the hover craft.

Since the advent of the hover craft, other vehicles have been modified to travel over water. Vehicles such as hydrofoils, also known as Seacats, perform much like the hover craft, but use less fuel. The mobility of hover crafts has drawn a loyal following, and there has been an increase in the number of make-shift hover crafts built. There is now a wide variety of kits and models available for adults and kids alike. There are also many clubs that have formed to allow hobbyists to share their love of hover crafts. These vehicles are used mostly for leisure and racing,and can be found on many inland rivers, lakes, and marshy areas.

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Discussion Comments
By anon105867 — On Aug 23, 2010

can you mail me the specification required to built my own hovercraft? It's for my diploma project using cheap appliances.

By hamlin22222 — On Jan 09, 2008

is there a way to combine the cylinder cans with magnetic force to create a stronger cushion of air?

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