Monday, September 5, 2016

U.S. National Hover Rally 2016

Saturday Sept. 3, 2016
I have never attended a hover rally of any kind, mostly because of distance and timing. This year's National Rally, hosted by Hoverclub of America, was in Muscatine IA. which is only 2.5 hours away from our home, my schedule was clear, so we decided to make the trip.

Never having been to a rally, I was not sure what to expect, my wife had just had surgery two weeks ago, which prevented her from flying with me, not knowing the facility and whether my wife would be comfortable if I was out hovering, I decided not to take my hover, but to attend as a spectator. A decision I regretted the moment we arrived. The Muscatine Riverside Park, was a very nice facility with various accommodations. The park runs along the waterfront of the downtown area so it is not remote like some places hovercrafters frequent, and the ladies in attendance were all very nice and welcomed us as friends. Hover people seem to be like that.

I met up with my friend Bill Zang from UH, had a very nice talk with him about the Renegade Hovercraft, and he introduced me to several of our fellow hovercrafters, which ranged from first time craft builders, to old pros. What a variety of people, we had young, old, novice, pro racers, and male and female pilots. Also as always, Bill's uncle, the legendary Bob Windt was there having a great time flying. If you ever get a chance to be around Bob and Bill just sit back and listen, you will walk away filled with knowledge about hovercraft and hovercrafting. Bob is an interesting guy even without the hovers. A few months ago Bob was up in the Rockford IL area at an event with Bill, I met Bob for the first time, officially. Whenever you see Bob he will typically have young people with him. On that particular day there were about four young teenagers with him. I watched as he instructed these young people, in lessons about hovers, engines, wildlife, and just life in general, it was like they were on a field trip with an old outdoorsman guide. What an amazing guy.

One of the pilots Jason Kuehn, from Hoverstream, offered plenty of information about his hovers, which are sold retail in the US. Jason was also kind enough to take me on a short hover ride, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Hoverstream Coastal Pro 2, is a well built quiet flying machine, accommodating up to three people. 
The CP2 is a very sleek machine. The ride was smooth and steady. Many thanks to Jason.

There were several home-built hovers on hand as well. While we did not stay for the evening banquet our three hours on site were a complete success. I would highly recommend attending this event in the future, and the next time I'm taking my hover no matter what.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Renegade by Universal Hovercraft


For years UH has had a presence in the hovercraft industry. Recently they have started making some interesting innovative strides with the new Renegade two person hovercraft. I have had the privilege of visiting their factory and discussing future plans with President Bill Zang and learning about the many features of this new breed of hovercraft. UH is moving into a new era with the Renegade and it's technology, by seeking to offer a smooth running quiet hover with ever improving design.  When talking with Bill you will hear phrases like "what does the air want to do" "blending different composites" and "Style and comfort" of course my favorite is "faster". The nice thing about the changes, the existing Renegades can be upgraded, allowing current owners of the Renegade to improve as changes are made. The Renegade is light weight (currently weighing in around 350 lbs)

One feature that UH has not changed is you have an option, Kit or Turn Key. For those having the ability to follow instructions and the patience to work at putting the hover together you can save several thousands of dollars by assembling your hover yourself. However UH doesn't stop there they also offer a partially assembled unit for people like me who are all thumbs. All of this means UH is heading toward fulfilling a commitment to expanding the hovercraft market and helping as many would be hover pilots as possible, start their own exciting hovercraft adventure. I look forward to working with UH and offering the Renegade as another choice to my customers at TLS WindSled. For more information on the Renegade or to schedule a Pit Pass Lesson and experience the Renegade yourself please go to  and select contact. Under enter message request a Pit Pass and we will provide you with instructions for scheduling and payment.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

S.W.A.T. River Tours

Well we are off on another adventure into the Mississippi River area where there is always something to do. This time out Linda found this interesting offer which turned out to be an incredible fun and educational trip. 
Captain John does an excellent job of pointing out historical points along the tour as well as having a good knowledge of the river and it's personality. The tour is an hour of constant movement and new sights to take in. From Native American stories to early settler information the tour covers it all. John also has a few surprise guests he will introduce you to along the way. We highly recommend this adventure and encourage anyone traveling in the Dubuque Iowa area to contact the folks at S.W.A.T. River Tours and schedule your tour. You won't be disappointed! I give this a 5 star rating for clean, professional, fun adventures.  
S.W.A.T. River Tours

Port of Dubuque Marina
Dubuque, Iowa 52001
Tel: 563-590-6300

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fort Myers Beach Florida

When we first arrived in Fort Myers Beach we weren't sure we were going to like spending a week there. It didn't appear to have a lot to offer and I didn't immediately see any good eating places. First impressions can be deceiving.
What we discovered was a more natural beach with more wild life than we had experienced at other Florida beaches. Near our condo were 3 saltwater lagoons teaming with birds and aquatic life. Nestled away among the residential houses and buildings were some very nice eateries that blend so well with the residential buildings they are not immediately identified. Then there is the Boardwalk and what I call the strip, which is a series of shops and various eateries that are all within walking distance. There is a trolley that runs all day and into the night if you decide not to drive and park (pay per park and it is limited) the trolley can transport you along Estero Blvd. which is the main artery.
We also discovered that traveling at no more than 45 MPH with an average speed on the island of 35 MPH is not a bad thing. If you're from Chicago area like we are 35 MPH is unheard of.

Linda and I try to do something different each time we go travel and on this trip we decided to tame it down and a little more laid back, we decided on a sunset cruise. I know "yawner", so we looked up anything in the area and found Fort Myers Princess Sunset Cruises of Fort Myers Beach. Groupon had a coupon so at least it was not going to cost us a lot. The Princess is locally owned by Dan Heselton and on this cruise Capt. Josh was piloting the Princess.

The Capt. and crew were excellent hosts pointing out the various sites along the way and providing photo opportunities. We had calm waters and a beautiful sunset. Then when the sun went down things turned a little wild. The Captain turned on the party lights, converted the sunset cruise ship into a party boat, cranked up the music and people started dancing. What fun! Did I mention they have a bar on board? I heard someone say "What happens on the Princess stays on the Princess"! Dan and his crew made the entire cruise interesting and fun. If you are ever in Fort Myers Beach Florida make sure you look up the Princess and her crew, take the two hour sunset or the daytime dolphin cruise you won't regret it. The price is very reasonable, the boat very clean and comfortable, and the crew is outstanding. At the end of our cruise I met Dan and discussed briefly the idea of placing a hovercraft down in his area, won't that be awesome. Looking forward to returning to Fort Myers Beach with my hovercraft and doing some exploring of the area. Check out the Fort Myers Princess at

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Saugatuck/Douglas Michigan

We arrived on Thursday night it was quite cool around 46 degrees. The little condo we rented for our two night stay was very nice, our compliments to the folks at the Beachway Resort for providing us with a very nice clean condo and a very friendly and helpful staff. We were actually their first guest of the season but the room was ready. My wife and I rented this condo so we could enjoy sitting on the patio and relaxing, however 46 degrees with a 10 mph wind blowing in from Lake Michigan and down the Kalamazoo river made for a very short time on the patio the first night. With that plan cut short we decided to check out the town.

What wonderful little towns with so many unique shops and things to see. I was not aware that Saugatuck & Douglas communities were such popular tourist destinations but after spending just two days there I could see why. Art galleries, ice cream shops, fudge shops, clothing stores, and wine shops like Petter Wine Gallery in Douglas (you have to stop by and say hi if you are in the area) with an attached art gallery was a fun stop during our stay. The stay was one of the most enjoyable we've had in quite a while.
Petter Wine Gallery 161 N. Blue Star Hwy, Douglas, MI 49406
However my attention was drawn away from all of that by the Kalamazoo River. Deep out to the lake but shallow out to the east, I've always been fascinated by the Kalamazoo, for years Linda and I have traveled across it on our way up toward Grand Rapids and I've always wanted to hover on the river and never had the chance. So wouldn't you know it the one time we actually not only stop by it by stay on it I do not have my hover. Of course that didn't stop me from checking it out and talking to the locals. I am told the east end of the water way heading east from Saugatuck right on the edge of Douglas, the river gets real shallow and boats have a hard time navigating it do to the sand bars and patchy swamp areas that stretch out for about 10 miles to the east.

I have to tell you June will find me back at Saugatuck, Douglas with the hover. After our enjoyable stay and a warm up in temperature on Friday and Saturday we had plenty of sun and patio time watching the boats run up and down the river, we will definitely be back and the next time it will be hover time.
View of the Beachway condo and Kalamazoo River North

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Traverse City Michigan U S A

It is late fall and typically all of the fall colors have peaked by now, but not this year. We arrived in Traverse City late afternoon, the sun was glistening off the bay and the colors of fall were in full bloom. Our room at the Cherry Tree Inn is the penthouse suite overlooking the bay and from our vantage point we can see the peninsulas jetting out both sides and the islands out beyond them. Lake Michigan and the Traverse bay are a beautiful aqua color reminding us of the waters down around Destin Florida, the water is calm low wind and perfect for hovering. I began to ask around and discovered that the bay typically does not freeze over in the winter and yet last year it froze for the first time in about 10 years. The surrounding inland lakes and the numerous bays along this part of the Great Lakes make this the perfect place for hovercraft. The  open waters of Lake Michigan can be rather treacherous during the late fall and the winter months so the bays and inland lakes offer some of the best waters for recreational hovering and the views are spectacular. In addition to hovering the area offers numerous shopping opportunities from gourmet to down home. Wine tasting is almost a sport in this areas with more wineries than most places have corner gas stations. Traverse City also offers the site seer sand dunes and incredible hiking trails, not to mention the cherry orchards which produce some of the best cherries in the world and the area provides you with everything cherry from chocolate covered cherries to cherry wine. During the fishing season there are charter services and boat rentals all over the area. Biking trails and scenic drives are abundant. The area offers up about every outdoor activity imaginable including snow sports during the winter. The restaurants in the area have a diverse menu so bring your appetites.
If you are looking for a great place to vacation any time of the year I highly recommend Traverse City Michigan USA.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

AirBoats and Alligators

In the past I have written strictly about Hovercraft in this blog, but my Backwater Adventures have taken me to other places using various means of transportation. On a  recent trip to Florida we decided to try an air boat to discover the difference and or similarities. Our captain for the day was Greg (shown in the picture to the right) a very personable southern gentleman who assured us from the start that he had many years of air boat experience. It did not take long to discover for ourselves that he was telling the truth. It was fun to watch his maneuvering through areas that were less than adequate for the size of air boat we were in. The boat was powered by a 450 HP V8. The Hostess Sharon, who signed us up was very friendly and most helpful. The tour took just over an hour and Greg allowed a young man about 11 to sit next to him and be our gator spotter. The lake contains over 3000 alligators so in our hour tour we spotted or at least counted 56, in addition to the gators the lake is also home to snakes, turtles, wild animals including panthers, and various local and migrating water birds,. The air boat is a unique vehicle with many of the hovercraft characteristics with one exception, it is on the water and land not above it like a hovercraft. If you have never tried air boating I recommend it for the simple reason it allows you to make an informed decision when purchasing a hovercraft. I will not be trading off my hover for an air boat but it was a fun trip. All in all the cruise cost is fun and worth the time to take it. If you are in the Naples FL. area look them up and take the tour. Tell them Terry from TLS WindSled sent you, they may give you a discount. Thank you Capt. Greg and Airboats & Alligators for a fun and informative outing.

 Airboats & Alligators
6001 Lake Trafford Rd.ImmokaleeFL 34142

All Photos of Airboats & Alligators are courtesy of TripAdvisor