How a hovercraft works

How do hovercraft work?
Hovercraft use fans or propellers to generate two streams of air, one for forward thrust and one for lift. Lift air is contained under the craft by a flexible skirt, this lifts the hovercraft clear of the surface. Thrust air is used to propel the hovercraft forward and moving the thrust air with rudders controls direction.

What types of surface will a hovercraft fly over?
Hovercraft can travel over all types of surfaces including grass, mud, sand, quicksand, gravel, water, snow and ice. Hovercraft prefer gentle terrain although they are capable of climbing slopes up to 20 degrees, depending on surface characteristics, slope length, payload and run-up. Obstacle clearance is determined primarily by the effective hover height of the hovercraft.

What can a person use a hovercraft for?
As technology improves performance and reduces noise levels, hovercraft are becoming increasingly popular as recreational machines. From accessing holiday homes all year round, to cruising, fishing, diving and racing – the possibilities are endless.

What types of organisations use hovercraft?
The unique capabilities of hovercraft are recognised and appreciated by a diverse group of end users. Hovercraft are in use worldwide with Search & Rescue Groups, Fire Departments, Airport Emergency Response Units, Military Units and Scientific Research Teams. Hovercraft are an integral part of numerous commercial operations including diving, tourism, water taxi, ferry service, ice breaking, goods delivery, survey, environmental monitoring and film & television.

What is it like to fly a hovercraft?
Hovercraft are very exciting to fly and the feeling of effortlessly travelling from land to water and back again is unique!

Do hovercraft float on water?
Hovercraft are designed to float like a boat with the engine turned off. Hovercraft make excellent diving tenders and superb fishing platforms.

How do you stop without brakes?
Reducing engine revs will reduce the air cushion height and increased drag between the skirt and surface, which will slow and stop the hovercraft. Alternatively, the hovercraft can be turned 180 degrees and the engine accelerated till the craft stops. In an emergency situation on most surfaces turning the engine off will stop the hovercraft immediately.

What advantages does a hovercraft have over a boat?
Hovercraft are true four season machines and offer a number of potential advantages over boats. A hovercraft travels over the surface of the water without concern for depth or hidden obstacles and will travel against the current of a river with no reduction in speed. Hovercraft are unaffected by small waves and offer a comfortable smooth ride. Hovercraft do not create wakes and are safe around swimmers as there are no propellers in the water. Many hovercraft have sufficient cushion height to pass right over a person in the water. Having a hovercraft eliminates the need to launch from boat ramps.

Are hovercraft environmentally friendly?
Hovercraft ride on a cushion of air and depending on the model, the hover height ranges between 20 cms and 45 cms. The air cushion enables our hovercraft to operate over environmentally sensitive areas such as mudflats without disturbing the surface. The ground pressure exerted even by a fully loaded hovercraft is so low that the craft can pass over bird eggs without breaking them. The lack of a wake on water minimises the potential for bank erosion and does not disturb swimmers or canoeists. Unlike many boats, engine exhaust fumes are not directed into the water and poisonous anti-fouling compounds are not required on hovercraft.