Omfg i must have one of these before i die: flying hovercraft

A guy in New Zealand, Rudy Heeman, has invented (and is selling) a flying hovercraft!


I must have one of these before I die.*

*I’d also like to have a sexy smart woman with a cool accent to ride around in it with me, like that reporter! Mrrrrow!

Lord did that think look dangerous, no belts, but helmets? skimming inches above the ground, nearly in an acrobatic maneuver, that was the scariest looking ride I’ve ever seen.

Is it crash proof or something?

Well I wouldn’t think that you would want a seat belt. If the thing crashes (especially in the water) you’d want to be able to get away from the wreckage as soon as possible as opposed to being tethered to it.

What I want to know is at what point to you say to yourself “What I need is a bright yellow jumpsuit, then it’ll be perfect”.

Clearly, by “before I die” the OP meant “for about 30 seconds before I die”.

Universal Hovercraft has been marketing plans to build your own hovercraft for years, including one similar to this. Follow the link and scroll down to find video near the bottom right.

As best as I can figure, the thing flies in “ground effect”, meaning that while it is airborne, it can only get something like a wingspan or so above the ground. The wings are designed to NOT be able to produce enough lift to sustain flight in open air. I don’t have the engineering or aeronautical background to describe the details, but my impression is that this is why it doesn’t require a pilot’s license.

If you want to see one in action, you might check out the Hoverclub Of America website, and look for the Events button on the left. They have periodic get-togethers, and someone may want to show off their newest toy.

Yes thats it. Ground effect is the answer. And a winspan high is really the upper limit. Significant ground effect is a fraction of a wingspan

But there are two problems. The first being that if you dip the end a wing into the water even a tiny bit due to a wind gust, high wave, or poor flying skills there is a very good chance you will crash spectacularly as your craft spins out of control and self destructs. And because you have to by design fly low, its probably more of when, not if thats gonna happen.

The other problem is you are close enough to being a real aircraft that you can probably trade speed for altitude and jump up pretty high temporarily. But now guess what? Your up really high in something that doesnt quit fly. Coming back down safely could be problematic.

If it REALLY can’t fly out of ground effect, its my understanding that you don’t need a pilots liscense. I did a fair bit of research on these things a few years ago. IIRC, you might need a WIG (wing in ground effect) liscense from the US Coast Guard. I wonder if they have ever issued even one of those things?

And, IMO that pilot was irresponsible as hell doing that island jump with the passenger in there.

The things could probably be pretty safe if you flew them really conservatively. But, for many folks, I think the temptation to hot dog it would bite them in the ass pretty quickly.

There is a video on the site that shows one of these dragging the inside wingtip in the water on a turn. Watch it at about 20 seconds into the clip, and you’ll clearly see it. It’s the trailing edge of the wing, though. He apparently flies away with no ill effects. Maybe the angle of attack is keeping it from digging in more? If it was a leading edge, I can see a crash and splash coming soon after.

I can see that urge coming on strong and early. There are old pilots, and bold pilots, but there are not many old, bold pilots.

Yes, I should have said leading edge. And obviously, you can do just about anything “bad” at some level and “get away with it”. The real problem, thats often also not too far removed “not getting away with it”.

I think part of the possible problem is many folks wouldnt consider these things flying machines, but in terms of safety thats exactly what they are. And it combines two of the most dangerous aspects of normal flying. One, you are basically always in take off / landing mode. And your flying low over water. “Real” pilots realize these to both be risky modes of flight.

Hey, they look fun as hell and its something I could see myself building someday as well. If I do I hope I have enough sense and self control to leave the hotdoging on the grill.

I already have a bright orange one. I’m ready to go!

I try and risk my life at least once a day! :smiley:

ETA: Thanks, RalfCoder! Bookmarked the site to check out later and to keep informed.

I do as well, but I suppose you mean something more interesting than driving in Atlanta traffic.

I’ve heard that hovercraft are frequently infested with eels.

Increasing the distance between the craft and the water seems a very sensible way to minimise this problem.

My high-altitude hovercraft is almost completely free of eels.

Obligatory Firefly quote:

Mal: “Ship like this, be with ya 'til the day you die.”

Zoe: “Cause it’s a deathtrap.”