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50 Years Of The Hovercraft  
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13253 posts, RR: 77
Posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 5730 times:

50 years ago, an eccentric looking machine emerged in the UK.
An amphibious vehicle concept devised by a single inventor.

Like many developments in that era, the Hovercraft did not become a mass mode of transport, though two huge machines crossed the English Channel for over 30 years, until age, fuel costs and the end of duty free sales retired them.

However, there is a niche market in a range of roles, also unusually for a British invention, the role of UK companies in continued production and development is still very strong.
(Maybe due to the fact that it is a niche?)

Potted history and a couple of interesting videos-from the very start to the latest in Hovercraft;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8093421.stm

[Edited 2009-06-12 11:55:07]

22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27337 posts, RR: 60
Reply 1, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 5722 times:



Quoting GDB (Thread starter):
though two huge machines crossed the English Channel for over 30 years, until age, fuel costs and the end of duty free sales retired them.

Arr I never got to fly on one !! I always remember Hoverspeed used to call their services ''flights''.

I am sad I never got to go Dover-Calais on them. When I was last in Dover its a shame to see the old terminal and platform empty.

http://i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/anetpics2009/hoverspeed.jpg


User currently offlineNighthawk From UK - Scotland, joined Sep 2001, 5186 posts, RR: 33
Reply 2, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 5717 times:



Quoting OA260 (Reply 1):
Arr I never got to fly on one !! I always remember Hoverspeed used to call their services ''flights''.

Its a shame the idea never really took off  duck 



That'll teach you
User currently offlineAznMadSci From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 3716 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5692 times:



Quoting Nighthawk (Reply 2):
Its a shame the idea never really took off

Yeah ... it just seemed to hover around.  duck   biggrin 



The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27337 posts, RR: 60
Reply 4, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5692 times:



Quoting Nighthawk (Reply 2):
Its a shame the idea never really took off



Quoting AznMadSci (Reply 3):
Yeah ... it just seemed to hover around

Just like your jokes LOL... Big grin  Wink


User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8041 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 5655 times:

What finally ended hovercraft service was the arrival of Eurostar high-speed rail service between London and Paris/Brussels. Especially now with only 2 hours 15 minutes travel time between St. Pancreas International and Gare du Nord stations.

User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13202 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 5639 times:

In 1984 and 1988, I used the hovercraft to travel round trip between London and Paris. It was a 'different' experience. One of the successes of hovercraft are as large landing/attack platorms used by the USA and other military forces.

User currently offlineBritJap From Japan, joined Aug 2006, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5615 times:



Quoting GDB (Thread starter):
two huge machines crossed the English Channel for over 30 years

Are there any left running passenger operations anywhere else??

I remember riding on one (a small one) across to the Isle of Wright for a week long school trip when I was a kid. I thought it was great.  Smile


User currently offlineCPH-R From Denmark, joined May 2001, 6056 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 5608 times:



Quoting BritJap (Reply 7):
Are there any left running passenger operations anywhere else??

I believe there's still hovercraft service between Portsmouth and Isle of Wight. Check out http://www.hovertravel.co.uk/


User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27337 posts, RR: 60
Reply 9, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 5597 times:

Didnt SAS run hovercraft also??

User currently offlineType-Rated From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5591 times:

I have never been on one of these. It looks like the ride in them must have been kind of wavy, or was it smooth?

User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13253 posts, RR: 77
Reply 11, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5580 times:

This potted history shows how the US and Russia developed the hovercraft, for military use, starting in the US with license built British designs used in Vietnam, later moving on to the big LCAC types in use with the USMC today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hovercraft

The Royal Navy used similar early SRN-6 designs, the version license built by Bell for the US, over the years, now they use the modern Griffon craft.

Interesting to note that Russia also developed the Ekranoplan ground effect craft, but this development stalled and they used and have exported their own hovercraft designs.


User currently offlineAverageUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 5558 times:

Finnish engineer Toivo J. Kaario, head inspector of Valtion Lentokonetehdas (VL) airplane engine workshop, began to design an air cushion craft in 1931. He constructed and tested his craft, dubbed pintaliitäjä (Surface Glider), and received its Finnish patents 18630 and 26122. Kaario is considered to have designed and built the first functional ground effect vehicle, but his invention did not receive sufficient funds for further development.

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Hovercraft

Outline drawings of his crafts can be found in this M.A. thesis: http://tutkielmat.uta.fi/pdf/gradu01659.pdf

Kaario in the 1930s: www.tampere.fi/kuvat/5GAtv5ST7/802_19.jpg


User currently offlineCPH-R From Denmark, joined May 2001, 6056 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 5539 times:



Quoting OA260 (Reply 9):
Didnt SAS run hovercraft also??

They leased one to operate between CPH and Malmö.


User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27337 posts, RR: 60
Reply 14, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 5537 times:

World's largest military hovercraft - The Russian Zubr class LCAC at 57.6 meters length and a maximum displacement of 535 tons. This hovercraft can transport three T-80 main battle tanks (MBT), 140 fully equipped troops, or up to 130 tons of cargo. Four have been purchased by the Greek Navy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hovercraft


User currently offlineBAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 5523 times:



Quoting CPH-R (Reply 8):
I believe there's still hovercraft service between Portsmouth and Isle of Wight.



Quoting Type-Rated (Reply 10):
It looks like the ride in them must have been kind of wavy, or was it smooth?

I've taken the hovercraft between Southsea and Ryde (Isle of Wight) two or three times, it's an interesting little trip, but it can get a bit bumpy if the sea is choppy. I understand that was an issue with the old cross Channel service in that they couldn't operate if the sea was too rough, they were a lot less tolerant of rough conditions than the ferries. I remember hearing friends and family tell stories of some pretty uncomfortable day trips to France on the hovercraft!



Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
User currently offlineQantas744 From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 246 posts, RR: 5
Reply 16, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 5503 times:

This is one of the two Hovercraft that operates between Southsea and Ryde on the Isle Of Wight:

http://matthew-taylor.fotopic.net/p55768499.html


The other craft was introduced in 2007 and is bigger than the one pictured. The service runs every half hour through the day (hourly off peak). And I can even see it from my flat!



Matt



you can't buy time but you can sell your soul and the closest thing to heaven is to rock'n'roll
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27337 posts, RR: 60
Reply 17, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 5503 times:



Quoting Qantas744 (Reply 16):
This is one of the two Hovercraft that operates between Southsea and Ryde on the Isle Of Wight:

Is it still operating? I have to get on that sometime.


User currently offlineWrenchBender From Canada, joined Feb 2004, 1779 posts, RR: 8
Reply 18, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 5485 times:

Did the channel crossing back in 1972, thrill of the trip was the Hovercraft couldn't care less about the rest of the month spent trolling round europe. Some things just amaze 11 year old boys more than others.

WrenchBender



Silly Pilot, Tricks are for kids.......
User currently offlineQantas744 From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 246 posts, RR: 5
Reply 19, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 5415 times:

The Hovercraft service from Portsmouth to the Isle Of Wight still operates, it sometimes can be suspended if it gets too windy but other than that it is a very reliable service. As for the ride, it feels just like being in an aircraft during a take off run-except it goes on for seven minutes!


you can't buy time but you can sell your soul and the closest thing to heaven is to rock'n'roll
User currently offlineDw747400 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 1265 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 5404 times:

Remarkable vehicles. Sad to see the Super 4's being slowly parted out.

I'd love to see US hovercraft service at some point, but it seems like the economics continue to make operators prefer high speed catamarans. The ability to move on land has less value in commercial applications, so sadly most big future hovercraft will be military designs, leaving the Isle of Wright ferries and some tiny pleasure cruisers.



CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
User currently offlineQantas744 From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 246 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 5353 times:

Most, if not all, of the cross channel hovers were built at the Hovercraft factory in Cowes on the Isle Of Wight, and across the water at Lee On Solent is the Hovercraft museum, they have a an open day every year and the next is 24th-26th July 2009.


you can't buy time but you can sell your soul and the closest thing to heaven is to rock'n'roll
User currently offlineSkyGirl From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 451 posts, RR: 4
Reply 22, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 5336 times:

I crossed the channel at the age of 4 on the hovercraft. It was without a doubt one of my favorite memories of being in Europe. I would love to experience the thrill of it again one day. It's such a unique way of traveling...


...Now they face an even greater danger...Tyrannousaurs in F-14's!!
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