A Hovercraft is a vehicle that flies like a plane but can float like a boat, can drive like a car but will traverse ditches and gullies as it is a flat terrain. A Hovercraft also sometimes called an air cushion vehicle because it can hover over or move across land or water surfaces while being held off from the surfaces by a cushion of air. A Hovercraft can travel over all types of surfaces including grass, mud, muskeg, sand, quicksand, water and ice .Hovercraft prefer gentle terrain although they are capable of climbing slopes up to 20%, depending upon surface characteristics. Modern Hovercrafts are used for many applications where people and equipment need to travel at speed over water but be able load and unload on land. For example they are used as passenger or freight carriers, as recreational machines and even use as warships. Hovercrafts are very exciting to fly and feeling of effortlessly traveling from land to water and back again is unique.
In the beginning……
Hovercraft as we know them today started life as an experimental design to reduce the drag that was placed on boats and ships as they ploughed through water. The first recorded design for an air cushion vehicle was put forwarded by Swedish designer and philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg in 1716. The craft resembled an upturned dinghy with a cockpit in the centre.
Apertures on either side of this allowed the operator to raise or lower a pair of oar-like air scoops, which on downward strokes would force compressed air beneath the hull, thus raising it above the surface. The project was short-lived because it was never built, for soon Swedenborg soon realized that to operate such a machine required a source of energy far greater than that could be supplied by single human equipment. Not until the early20th century was a Hovercraft practically possible, because only the internal combustion engine had the very high power to weight ratio suitable for Hover flight.
In the mid 1950s Christopher Cockrell, a brilliant British radio engineer and French engineer John Bertin, worked along with similar line of research, although they used different approaches to the problem of maintaining the air cushion. Cockrell while running a small boatyard in Norfolk Boards in the early 1950s began by exploring the use of air lubrication to reduce the hydrodynamic drag, first by employing a punt, then a 20 knot ex-naval launch as a test craft.
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