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Having Fun When Your Hobby Is Your Own Hovercraft

A great way to use personal hovercrafts for fun and pleasure is as a hobbyist. Naturally, hobbyists engage with their vehicles by racing with them and exploring with them. However, another way they really get involved in their hobby is (aside from collecting and testing new ACVs) by taking them apart and putting them back together again. By doing this, they learn more about the inner workings of the personal hovercraft. By building them, they can understand how to make their own models. Once they understand how the hovercrafts work, they can build their own models, whether from scratch or by working with kits that they've purchased. To practice their hobby, enthusiasts join their local clubs.

It's not much of a stretch your interest in mechanical means of transport such as cars, jet-skis and quads to these new air cushioned vehicles. the body shape and construction may be different, but they all have an engine (two in some cases) which may be two or four stroke, and a means of propulsion. The interesting thing is that these things are neither vehicles, boats or airplanes - see They exist in a category of transport which is unique and has not been fully stretched to the limits of their possibilities yet. This is what excites enthusiasts, the unknown possibilities in the future.

Hobbyists are interested by the ACVs because they are a truly unique means of transport, after all. How many other vehicles work by cushioning the air so that they can zoom by vastly different areas while hovering above the ground? Moreover, they create less pressure on our natural world than you yourself do by walking (they exert a pressure of some 0.33 pounds per square inch, whereas walking can exert a pressure of up to 25 pounds per square inch).

Because they exert this little pressure, you don't need to worry that your personal hovercraft will erode the soil or earth it passes over. Moreover, they don't run on harmful materials like fossil fuels, and they don't even need electricity to work. Truly, examining the insides of personal hovercrafts are one way for engineers to have a field day. They will marvel at the well-executed, aerodynamic design and strive to replicate it. Toward this end, many stores offer kits that laypeople can use to build personal hovercraft. Some hobbyists enjoy building their own entirely from scratch, as well.

The Factors Affecting Hovercraft Speed

In principle, the forward speed of a hovercraft is largely determined by the power of the forward propulsion engine and the craft's aerodynamics, but this is too simplistic. In theory, on a perfectly flat surface it should be possible to attain incredible speeds, but there are factors that make this quite undesirable and positively dangerous. Racing craft have a special design which reduces the danger.

Imagine a hovercraft moving over a flat surface faster and faster, with only the air resistance to slow it's movement. The air in front of the vehicle doesn't part immediately and just get out of the way, but a bow wave, or turbulence occurs as the air is pressurized. This pressure wave is always looking for an outlet so that atmospheric pressure can be quickly achieved. Normally, this outlet is found by the air moving round and over the hull. If the skirt at the front is weak, or is faulty and air pressure pushes it in, then the air pressure under the bow will increase dramatically.

Like any mechanical system, instability increases with no apparent effect until a tipping point is reached. After this point, the system state changes very rapidly. In the case of our over-speeding hovercraft, the bow will lift rapidly and flip over. Obviously, this is a disastrous situation threatening the lives of everyone on board. There is little time to escape as tipping points are by definition very fast. Designers need to specify a maximum speed for their hovercraft which should be around 50% of the speed which would introduce instability. These considerations are important when looking a place to purchase a hovercraft.

In practice, this is achieved by specifying an engine size that is not capable of pushing an ACV beyond it's unstable speed, which greatly reduces the danger. However, other factors could also come into play, such as moving up a slight gradient with a frontal wind. In this case the craft would not be horizontal, but leaning backwards, and the forward wind would provide further air pressure to the bow.

Racing hovercraft have a particularly flat hull design with a stiff skirt which allows them to travel at speeds of up to 75km per hour without too much trouble. The surface are of the hull underside is also large compared to other craft used for leisure, rescue or survey purposes, which also helps to keep the center of gravity low enough to resist flipping over. That said, part of the excitement of watching air cushioned craft racing is the fact that they can, and often do flip over.