Friday, December 30, 2011

Hovering with New Friends


I received a call from Bob who explained he wanted to give his wife and daughter a fun gift for Christmas. He asked if we could schedule a Hover Adventure for them. I agreed and figured we'd be able to run them on a snow or ice run so I completed the arrangements with him. December 26th Bob called asking if they could take the Adventure on the 28th of December, typically Northern IL in December is really cold and there can be up to a foot of snow on the ground, not this year, the temperature was predicted to be around 38 F and they were unusually accurate this time. Now if we were going on a snowmobile we would have been in trouble because there was no snow, if I was dependent on ice we would have had to cancel since there is no ice around here, but because we were heading out on a hover all I had to do was tell them to wear warm cloths and where we would be going. Flying on water in winter isn't much different that flying on water in summer except you don't want to have a lot of water spraying around so I knew I wouldn't be doing a lot of spins and other fun turns. Wednesday started out cold around 21 degrees and as you can see the ladies showed up dressed warm. After a minor icing problem with the throttle cable we were ready to take off. My new friend Chris and Claire got settled in after posing for a few pictures and loading up and our adventure was to a great start. I wish I could have had a camera on their faces when we raised up off the ground and started across the parking lot in my "ATV" which was about to become a "Boat" I aimed the hover toward the boat ramp and with a little twist of the throttle we slide seamlessly off the ramp and onto the cold waters of the Rock River. It is at the point where we leave land and hit the water that the faces of the new hover riders express the greatest concern and excitement. After about a minute or so on the water people usually settle back and start enjoying the ride, it usually takes that long to realize their not going to sink and have to swim for shore. I took Chris and Claire past an area that typically we catch glimpse of an eagle that has made a home in Rockford but he must have been out hunting at that point. About a mile down the river we hit a little shallow shelf that most of the time only has about 3 inches of water running over it. Today however the river was up and we had slight ripples to fly over. I continued down river about 5 miles and made a nice cut between two islands and back into another channel. As we started heading north we passed the homes of the folks who call Blackhawk Island home and waved at a few of them, the people that live on the island always seem friendly and give me a big smile whenever we pass by in one of our hovers. Today I was flying my 3 person Sportsman model and that probably got their attention a little more that the other hover I fly.
After passing the island we traveled another mile or two and I decided to take a small break on a nice sandy beach so I slowed the hover down and prepared to land on the beach. When I got close to the target of my landing I could tell it was a little higher off the water than it appeared when I spotted it, we had a nice 18 inch hump to fly up on to be on solid ground so I revved the engine and the hover jumped up on the small hill with ease. We stopped and took a few moments to discuss the river we had just traveled down and I explained to the ladies that we would now be heading up around the Fordam dam where few people go due to the extreme water conditions. I thought they would be a little apprehensive when I used words like "Treacherous and Dangerous"  but not these adventurers they were all smiles and said "Let's Go!" That says a lot about Chris and Claire, ready to take on white water, they are truly WindRider X-Tremist ready for adventure, so we settled in again and headed toward the dam.
Getting there is part of the fun when your hovering so in spite of the cold water and weather I thought it was time to give them a little 360 action so when we passed the boat ramp where we launched from I did a quick 360 and continued toward the dam. The area around the dam is always changing and today we had a little sand beach to land on to snap some photos and so after running through a little of the rapids I aimed at the sandy area to land. Sometimes things don't always go as planned and my turn toward the beach area was broken up by my hitting a little rocky area on the north of the beach, which you can see in the picture, but the hover rode up over the foot tall rocks and back into the water and with that we landed on the beach. They snapped a few pictures as did I this is a shot not many people have of our river. After a brief rest we headed back down river to our launch point and after a little fly over another shallow area and a 360 to position us for the boat ramp we turned toward the ramp and up the slope to the parking lot again.
All and all we had a fun time. The really neat part is even when the weather doesn't cooperate you can still hover and have a good time.
Thanks Chris and Claire for joining me on a Backwater Adventure
Just a side note; when I got home my neighbor was loading up his snowmobile and I asked him where he had found snow and he said the U P in Michigan he was about to travel 7.5 hours to get to have some fun and I had just gone only 20 minutes from the house. Aint Hovering Great.
Come Join us because where everyone else has to stop we're just getting started any time any where.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Dealer Location Savannah IL

E-mail came in from a person claiming they had an interest in a sportsman style hovercraft, I arranged with him to come to Rockford and take a test ride. When Gary showed up I was just getting my hover ready to go and it was running a little rough. After discussing a few of the features of my Hoverstar Sportsman we loaded up and started out from the parking lot of the park we were launching from. It is always a hoot to see a person experiencing hovercrafting for the first time. For some reason when you unload from your fly on fly off trailer in the parking lot it doesn't register with the person that you don't need water to fly this thing then you get them into the hover and throttle up and the craft lifts and starts moving forward. They almost always get this puzzled look on their face and then you head toward the water and the transition from land to water is so smooth you hardly notice it and they get this look of relief as if to say "Oh it goes on land and water"! I typically like to fly a few hundred yards from the launch then shut the unit down to show people that it will float, because that is a big question on their mind, I think the first thing I would ask before I went on a hover from land to water is "Will it float if the motor dies" especially if it is cold out. Gary and I flew down the river a ways then I cut off the main channel into some really tight log jams just to show him your not limited to where you can go, after the log jams I turned the hover back out into the main channel and back to the boat ramp so we could talk. The hover was still running sluggish so I barely made it up the ramp and back to the parking lot. Recently I had a part added to my hover that increases the temperature range on the two cycle without having to make jetting changes on the carburetor and I had the setting about a quarter of a turn out of sync so once we landed I adjusted and it was immediately obvious that the engine was running better. Unfortunately my passenger had other commitments and couldn't go back out on the river with me. I figured at that point I would not hear from him again. I was really surprised a day later when I got an e-mail not only saying he was interested but would like to discuss opening a dealership down in Savannah IL on the Mississippi River. I made arrangements to meet him at his home and what an incredible view of the river he has from his living room window. The backwaters that he lives on are huge and were just starting to freeze over so I knew we were gonna have fun in the future with our hovers down at his place. After making the arrangements for his dealership we discussed a wide variety of things about the hovers that would make them more usable for hunters and fishermen. Gary has some really cool ideas and I can't wait to implement them. If you happen to live in the Savannah IL area and would like a test flight in a hover it will be an awesome experience for you so please contact us so we can get you hooked up with Gary.
Picture from file 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What's Snow without a hovercraft

Winter is fast approaching and my hover is poised ready to take on the winter weather fun. If you've never flown on ice and snow you really need to get out and try it. A lot of hover owners put the thing away in the winter but if you dress for the occasion or are like me and have a winter front on your hover it is a blast. I like open fields and flat ice when you can find miles of this type of terrain it's almost heaven. The Kishwaukee River starting in Belvidere IL is one that offers a lot of variety and has point that you can exit the river and fly the fields or parks. I would highly recommend Northern IL for this awesome sport. Come join us where everyone else has to stop we're just getting started. Hills, frozen lakes and rivers, open fields wooded areas all become our playground in the winter. If you would like to try an Illinois Ice Road Adventure please contact me. We look forward to helping you experience Winter in a Hover. Happy Holidays

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Redneck Fishing Tournament

Redneck Fishing Tournament
Asian Carp Hunt Bath Illinois
Many thanks to Betty Deford owner of The Boat Tavern for allowing us to attend the event
Up until recently I was not aware that there was a Bath Illinois but there it was right out in the middle of nowhere. I believe the population is around 200 in non-tournament times but on this day the population swelled to somewhere around 15-20,000 people. We arrived around 10:30 AM to what I thought would be a quiet little fishing tournament. Man was I shocked by the numbers that turned out for the event. There were over 100 boats signed up to participate and according to the first nights results of 7,000 fish captured the tournament was going to be very successful in both hunting the fish and participation by those who registered.  Due to the huge turnout we were unable to demonstrate our hovercraft during the tournament but we certainly plan to attend and demonstrate the hovercraft next year. If you missed it this year don’t miss next years event I’m sure it will continue to grow. The Silvers were popping out of the water even at low speeds and in the catch zone it was crazy. Check out Betty’s web site for details on the event.
Thanks again Betty for the wild experience and I hope next years event brings you and your community increased attendance and success.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hovercraft Search and Rescue Damage Assessment How to use a hovercraft 7


I walked over to my hover and fired it up let it warm up for a minute while I unhooked the front tie down strap and removed the security chains, I swung the hovertrailer 90 degrees to the side and put on my life jacket. When I got into the hover and throttled it up and let it hover off the trailer onto the road and then over the curb and onto the grass even the guys in the water pushing the boats were looking to see what was going on. I maneuvered my Hovertechnics 700 over to the area that I decided would be the best to launch from and set it down turned off the key and waited for my instructions. My son Paul was taking pictures and one of the firemen commented, “Why the heck don’t we have one of those?” after a few minutes one of the firemen, I presume he was a Lieutenant walked over to me and introduced himself he said I want you to take me around the area to do damage assessment. I gave him a few instructions about where to sit, got into the hover and off we went. It was sad to see the damage that flood water had done to peoples homes and the disruption it caused in their lives. 
My passenger would point and I would fly him where he pointed. It didn’t matter where he wanted to go I could easily take him there. It was obvious he had never had the ability to do such up close examination of a flood area before and we were able to assist with the effort in a small way. I had really hoped this would prove to the department the value of a hovercraft and I think they now understand that to have a hover could create a safer environment for their rescue crews. Which would you rather do walk through that flooded area or fly through it. I believe it is our responsibility to support our firemen and their efforts to assist people in difficulties such as this flood. To do that we forming a network of volunteer hover pilots. Part of our strategy is to align hovercraft owners with fire departments for volunteer of services. If you own a hover and would like to volunteer your services and would like to know if you meet the requirements please contact us, we would like to help you get aligned with a department in your area.  Even if you don't own a hover you can become a part of this effort please contact me  terry@tlswindsled.com 

Thanks and remember, “Where everyone else has to stop we’re just getting started” Hover up




Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hovercraft Search and Rescue Damage Assessment How to use a hovercraft 6

It was August and in Illinois that typically means hot and dry, this year was no exception until one particular morning. The morning started out like any other with the exception of the 5 inches of rain in about a two-hour period. My son was watching the news and they were telling of flooding in Rockford IL and that people with boats were showing up to volunteer to rescue of stranded home owners so he thought it would be a great opportunity to show off our hovers. We decided to take the Hovertour 700 over I quickly took the side panels off it and headed to Rockford. We got to the affected area and were allowed to pass through the barricades and proceed to the command post. By the time we got there everything had settled down and we were put on standby.  I watched as these brave firemen were walking along beside and behind boats basically pushing the boats into position to load people off their front porches into the boats. They had to push the boats because they were not sure what might be under the water and were concerned about damaging props, running aground, and boat bottoms on hidden debris. As I watched this scene unfold I thought about how dangerous it was to walk and secondly how foolish it was to use boats in such a situation as this. One step by a fireman and he could be sucked into a hidden hole or drain, or he might step on something in this filthy water and be injured, at any rate the entire situation was so uncalled for if they were to just use my hover. Off to the side of the command post unloading area was a high power relay station that was getting dangerously close to being submerged and they were working to shut the power off to it. I couldn’t believe the willingness of the firefighters to enter this situation with this going on, but there they were right in the mix helping people who were in trouble. It was amazing to watch. After about 30 minutes I was asked to unload the hover. I was directed to an area that they had been launching the boats into it had a rather deep drop into the water. They decided this was the best place to launch boats to protect the bottoms and the props while entering the flood zone. I was told to back my hover trailer down into the unknown ramp to launch. As I have said before I hate backing down into the water with my Hovertrailer. So I looked at him and said, “Do you mind if I launch over there?” pointing to the road where I had the hover parked. The Chief looked at me rather puzzled and said “sure?” You could tell he had no idea what a hovercraft is capable of. Unloading on the grass not in the water he was baffled.  


Friday, April 15, 2011

How to use a hovercraft 5 Sporting Event Promotions

Once we were invited to bring our hovers to a sporting event, our local semi pro baseball team asked us to bring our hovers out to the ball diamond to first promote our business and second add novelty to their show for the night. We had a great time and our hosts were excellent. They have a mascot who had a good time showing off with our hover. As we began talks with the management team of the ball team we asked them if they would like to have us fly around their field they were a bit hesitant at first then I suggested we do a small demonstration for them prior to our show night. The real problem they thought the hover would tear up the ball field. I have to share this story because it was one of the special moments when something rather fun happened. I got to the ball diamond on the date they requested the demonstration. The top grounds keeper was there and to say he was very negative about the entire idea would be an understatement. I kept assuring him it would be all right but that was not something he was going to believe. I unloaded the hover in the parking lot about 200 feet from the entrance to the ball field and flew down the drive to the entrance. That in and of itself was rather interesting because only wheeled vehicles had been down that path and here I was in the hover thing driving it like a car. He stopped me at the entrance and cautioned me that if I damaged his field I would be liable. Sometimes I have a little mean streak in me so I made a few comments about divots and fired up the hover so I couldn’t hear him I looked back at him as I began to hover out onto the outfield and he was muttering something about his sod and he had a very sick look on his face as the hover hit the turf. I flew a few feet along the edge of the outfield then turned back toward him and went into a 360-degree turn and then flew back toward him. He had this puzzled look on his face examined the turf and then smiled as I shut the hover off. He said “Can you maybe fly over that area over there?” one of the unique features of our hovercrafts is the segmented skirt versus a bag skirt. The segmented skirt has multiple edges or fingers reaching down that gently drag the surface as you fly, these edges allow the hover to rake the surface, as you are moving over it. The hover also blows air down which causes any debris under the craft to be loosened up and with the outward flow of air in combination with the fingers raking the surface you remove all the debris and what is left is some very nice grass. He instantly saw the improvement in his ball field grass and wanted to see more. So I flew all over the field after that he then started directing me to areas where the grass was really a bit on the nasty side and he explained that he couldn’t get grass to grow in that spot very well. I obliged him and by the time we were done he was not only ready to let me fly but very close to hiring me to fly the field on a regular basis. I realized then and there the potential for using the hovercraft or at least our style hovercraft for lawn care. 
Rockford River Hawks Mascot above
At Road Ranger Stadium Home of the Rockford River Hawks it's a beautiful ball field, fun, and inexpensive to attend a ball game here Rockford River Hawks Loves Park IL

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to use a hovercraft 4 Party

We had an option on our web site for a while that suggested using the hovercraft for parties and events. From that we have flown people at various events such as car shows, motorcycle gatherings, birthday parties, church group events, and county fairs. The potential for this is unending. The income is substantial however the cost and control of the environment around the event can be a little difficult and has to be researched prior to accepting the offer to fly your hover. One of the largest costs for such a business is the insurance; it is not that difficult to secure insurance for such a business you just have to be a little creative in your search. If all else fails you can turn to a company such as a high-risk insurer Lloyds of London for example.  
 TLS WindSled at a motorcycle event.
The hosts were kind enough to fence off an entire area for us to not only show the hovers but also fly them it was a blast.



 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to use a hovercraft 3 grass drying 101

This pond was even larger than the last and I thought to myself if I get all the water out of this would we find fish at the bottom? Not to worry there was no way we were going to get this water to dry up it was probably two feet deep and covered about an acre of his property but I tackled it anyway, its not like I was working or anything flying a hovercraft around a wide open smooth fairly short cut grass field and over a few ponds was what most of us hope for when we hover so this was like an outing for me. In fact I wished I could just fly all over the place on this nice warm summer day. It was rather funny now that I think about it because when we started Tim didn’t really want me on the sod but now he was directing me all over the place. We did as he asked and flew where he wanted, after attempting to dry up his ponds (puddles) he directed me to a spot that had some dead grass and open spots on it. I was rather puzzled so I stopped and asked what he would like me to do at that spot. He explained that the soil was depleted of oxygen and he thought perhaps the down flow of air from the hover might inject air into the soil so I basically sat on the spot with the hover and let it hover for about five minutes. It would have been neat to have grass instantly appear but that would have required the heavens to open and the angels to begin singing and I didn’t see that happening so I figured I would humor the guy and do what he asked when I was done we ended our little attempt to dry the field and put the hover back on the trailer. We stood there looking at the sod field still covered with water and pretty much concluded that the experiment into hover grass drying was pretty much a failure and with that I left.
It wasn’t until the next day that the true results of my effort were made known. A few of the ponds I had flown over were dried up! Tim was actually very pleased with what he saw and called my son Paul to tell him the results of our efforts. I was completely puzzled over the results and so I called the University of Illinois Department of Horticulture to ask them what might have caused the overnight sensation. They explained to me that in a standing water situation the thing prolongs the pond is the soil under the water. It seems the problem is not that the soil is so saturated with water it can’t run of but rather the weight of the water packs the soil and turns it into something similar to clay, which acts as a barrier. It is kind of like putting a sheet of plastic wrap on the ground and the water is left to evaporate into the air rather than seep into the ground. My activity with the hover caused the soil under the water to be loosened up which allowed the water to drain off. That little change in the soil allowed the water to drain rapidly into the soil and dry off the field. I pretty much saved Tim thousands of dollars in damage and he was real happy about that. I realized at that point there was some potential for some income from doing not only this but applying some other applications to this type of crop using the hovercraft. One of the worse things you can do with grass is pack it down, think about this would you want to have tire tracks from a tractor running across your newly sodden lawn? The less you have to run a tractor tire across your sod the better so a hovercraft with a sprayer on the back could apply liquid fertilizer and other applications onto the sod and never touch the ground. This could apply to a lawn as well as a sod field. I will continue this thought later.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to use a hovercraft 2

This picture has nothing to do with the topic but I have never gotten into this tall of reeds and thought it was an interesting picture.

I wasn’t sure what Tim wanted so when I arrived I got out of the vehicle and asked Tim what he would like us to attempt. He informed me that he had a few puddles he wanted me to try to dry out. Per his instructions we pulled down a muddy tractor path to an area at the end of the shop portion of Tim’s property. I sat there staring at a “puddle” about the size of a ball diamond. The thing appeared to be about two to three feet deep. I thought that figures I came to dry out a puddle this guy wants me to dry out a small lake, I was glad I didn’t tell him straight out “Yes I can do this” because right now I was really doubting that we could do much. Tim’s first concern was for the damage this 16x8 foot hovercraft was going to do to the sod that was not underwater. We assured him the hover would not tear up his sod, he was a bit apprehensive to say the least when I fired up the V8 and the props began to crank out air. I let my Hovertechnics Hoverguard 800 slide off the trailer and onto Tim’s well-manicured sod. I could almost hear him let out a whimper as the 1500 pound beast settled on the grass. I let it warm up a bit then slowly moved it out into the open field where I could begin working on his problem. As I moved the hover I saw him looking at the sod and then I saw the expression on his face change from one of concern to one of hope, as he could not see where the hover was sitting. One nice thing about hovercraft is the wide stance they have allows the weight to be spread out over a large area, which translates into very low impact on the surface your sitting on. I was glad to see Tim’s face light up it gave me the assurance that we were heading in the right direction with this. Tim directed us to our first small lake. I felt like Moses trying to part the Red Sea but I did as Tim asked. I blew a lot of water around and as I was doing it I was glad to have the large winter front on the 800, which kept the nasty water, grass, and mud off me and on the hover. What a mess, at that point I thought I should have let Paul do this in the GT that way he would have been getting dirty not me. My son Paul is very creative and adventuresome as long as it’s my son Seth or me doing the flying. Paul never hesitates to volunteer me when it comes to this type of stuff, I’m sure this is pay back for grounding him or something when he was younger. At any rate the hover was working and after a few minutes we were able to disperse a lot of the water but it was still standing on the field. I was rather disappointed in the outcome but Tim wasn’t ready to give up yet he moved me on to the next pond.

Friday, April 8, 2011

How to use a hovercraft 1

I am going to start a series of postings that suggest practical applications and uses for hovers. I have always believed there are many applications for hovercrafts that have never been explored. A couple of things usually occur that seem to stifle the exploration of these uses. One someone who is inexperienced tries to do something that is total beyond their ability and they mess it up or two they use the wrong type of hover for the purpose at hand. I own TLS WindSled Inc a Hovertechnics distributorship based out of Belvidere Illinois USA we sell hovers and parts. Just a little advertisement you can visit us at www.hovercraftusa.org selling hovers is what we do so if we can find more ways to use them we can sell more hovers. I don’t want this to be boring, which I really don’t see how you can have a boring day doing something in a hovercraft, so I will share this in the form of things we have done and I hope those of you who read this will enjoy the little quirky things that always seem to happen when you hover. Perhaps some of you with hovers can use these ideas to create an income with your hover. I would ask you to first do your homework and second know what your hover can do and what it can't do and stay within the perimeters of what it can do. With that said here we go.

Grass drying have hovercraft will travel

I’m always looking for ways to better utilize hovercrafts so when someone ask me, “can you do this?” my response is usually, “I don’t know but I can try” I figure that way if it doesn’t work out they don’t think I’m a fool, because I told them I didn’t know, and if it does work out I am a hero.  We have a sod farm a couple miles from the house, my son Paul used to work for the man who owns it. Tim, at one time, had approximately 2500-3500 acres of flat to rolling hill sod connected through a central shop office area. Once you got on his property you could spend an entire day flying around the short cut grass of his property. I always wanted to get out there and fly my hovers but how do you ask a man to allow you to do something that he thinks would ruin his multi million-dollar operation. One summer a couple of years ago we had a huge rain fall overnight producing 5-7 inches of rain. Needless to say it left a lot of water standing on the fields. Paul was talking to Tim, the owner of Cooling and Sons sod farm, and they were talking about the devastating effects of the rain and standing water on Tim’s sod. Standing water cost thousands of dollars in lost sod due to rotting. Sod like most other crops does not do well when submerged for any length of time so Tim was faced with a dilemma how do you dry this out in a short period of time. Paul suggested he allow us to attempt to dry it out with our hovercraft. To my surprise Tim agreed and so we hooked up the hovers and headed for Cooling and Sons Sod Farm.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Leaving others behind

Hovertechnics Hoverstar Sportsman with 100 HP liquid cooled engine a lot of fun all in one!
A short time ago I took two friends with me who had never been in a hovercraft before. We were flying out of Rockton IL up to the dam I figured it would take me about 20 minutes to reach my destination and it was a nice warm day sunny and not much of a breeze. I was flying my Hovertechnics Hoverstar, which allows up to 3 people so we were at capacity. When you travel north on the Rock River from Loves park the river is fairly deep or at least deep enough to run boats but when you get north up by Rockton the level drops and you can almost walk across it in spots during August. There was virtually no boat traffic and the boats I was seeing at that point were pontoons and they were lazily moored to the docks along the river. Just as I was turning right at the fork of the Rock and Pecatonica River a couple of jet skis blasted past me as if to say “hey slow poke eat our dust” they were manned by a couple of young punks who were obviously impressed with themselves and their high horse powered skis. I just let them pass without much interest however when they came back by me egging me on as if they wanted to race they became annoying. It was okay because I knew where I was going they could not go so I just let them have their fun, besides I’m no match on open water with a jet ski. Within a couple of miles I reached the point of my adventure and they of course were sitting there at the base of the dam mocking me. They were both sitting on a large rock at the base of this low head dam and that was as far as they could go. For me this was the point I was heading so I could start my adventure.
As they sat there I approached the dam and reduced speed and slowly surveyed the slope of the dam and the obstacles at its base. Where these two guys were sitting was about 5 feet from where I decided was the best spot to make my move so I did a quick 180 and headed away from the base of the dam. If you are not familiar with hovercrafts then you may not know that a Hoverstar from Hovertechnics can climb hills even if that hill is a dam and as long as you have some water running over it there really isn’t much difference flying up the dam than flying on the river it’s all water and it is the surface the hover flies over. With that in mind I turned toward the dam and gunned the hover and picked up a little speed hit the base of the dam and shot up over it like it wasn’t there. I wish I had a camera so I could have captured the look on my two little jet ski buddies faces at that point. It was priceless! On top of the dam I spun a couple of 360’s and then pointed the craft toward Beloit WI and as I did I turned the craft into a 90 degree side slide looked back at the two jet ski guys and motioned for them to follow me. They just stood there shaking their heads. With that I was off to Beloit. I reached Beloit and turned around at the dam there because it is topped with a road that prevents me from going any further up river without exiting the water and running on the city streets for a block or so. I turned and headed back toward Rockton Illinois. This trip was priceless because of the two jet ski guys but it got even better when I got back to the dam in Rockton and found the two of them pushing the jet ski’s up the face of the dam. They had one of them sitting on top of the dam and the other was about half way up with both of them pushing the thing. They looked so helpless and I must admit at this point the devil inside me kicked in as I approached the dam. I thought isn’t this funny it’s been forty minutes or so and these two guys almost have their fancy jet ski’s on top of the dam so they can follow me. Now I’m back from my trip over the dam up the river and back again guess the speed of the jet ski’s isn’t so impressive after all. With a couple of 360’s and a bit of a smile (ok it was more of a smirk) I zipped down the dam turned a 180 flew backward for a few yards waved at them and took off back down river. I must say my two passengers were more than impressed with my Hoverstar I had provided them with a fun day hovering. The two helpless young men, the last I saw of them they were standing there looking really foolish one up and one down the dam. This was a fun day hovering and flying over the dam!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The end of a really bad day hovering

Home well now that presented another problem, I had to call my wife and tell her what had just happened. I had to call Linda! Suddenly I wished I had sunk with the hover in the water facing God at this point would have been much easier than trying to explain to my sweetheart what a fool her hero was. I dialed the number and when she answered I said in a rather meek voice “Hello honey there is something I have to tell you” now bad news is hard enough to share with the ones you love, but for them to receive it second hand is even worse not to mention the fact that when they find out about it second hand they feel like maybe their not all that important. Picture this if you will. I have just spent the last two and a half hours apologizing to my youngest son for trying to drowned him and his friends, holding a one ton hover and thousands of gallons of water with my bare hands, and fishing my $50,000+ investment out of the muddy river, and what does the queen of my life say? “Why didn’t you call me?” all I could think of was “Are ya kiddin me!” after all that happened in a short period of time now I had to deal with a wife who was angry hurt and worried sick. I have to admit if I hadn’t drowned my cell phone she would have been the first person I would have called but as it turned out this was really just the icing on the cake my really bad day hovering finally reached it’s climax and I was ready to head home and face the next sinking ship. You know the old saying “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work” I’ve often said the same about hovering. After this day I must admit I would rather have been at work that day than out hovering. I seriously wanted to run away and never and I mean never hover again. And I didn’t for at least two days cause I still had to be at that County Fair and fly over that damn dam again! Now I had to go show off my hovers and tell everybody how wonderful it is to own and fly hovercrafts. “Good God give me strength and if it be your will let this cup pass from me” that was my prayer that night unfortunately I got the same results as the first guy that prayed it and with that I pulled into the driveway to face the angry crowd of one. Hi honey I’m home!
Looking back on it I guess it could have been worse and as it turned out my hover actually was able to be repaired with a new window and about $1,000 fiberglass repair, my son has gone on to fly hovers again and so have I, and my wife (what a sweetie) when I got home she just hugged me and was glad I was okay. All in all it was an experience I have tucked away in my memory of hovering. Writing this has been very therapeutic so thanks for helping me drag it out into the open again I’m sure someday I will look back on this really bad day hovering and not get the sick feeling in my stomach but I don’t see that happening in the near future.

Check out our You Tube video "hovering on ice the Rock River" and "Muddy water backwater adventure" they show up on the video bar on the top right of the blog
Happy hovering  
 Me flying with a friends daughter two days after the really bad day on the same river in the same location. And yes we flew over the dam! Some things are just too much fun to only do once! And no I have never flown my 800 here again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A really bad day hovering 4

First consideration what is on the bottom of this river? Answer silt and in this particular river there is a lot of it, so as my feet hit what should have been bottom I found myself now sinking in what may have been thousands of years of muck build up. I had a vision of a dinosaur in the tar pits of California and I thought I’m going to kill myself trying to keep this thing afloat. Frantically I worked my way from the side to the back of the hover to try to lift it up and keep it from completely sinking. My sons were on shore grabbing at anything they could to keep the front on the shore as the current of the river was attempting to drag the entire thing down river. This was actually a good thing because it allowed us to move the craft from the bank to the boat ramp where we at least had some solid surface on which to rest the nose of the hover. If I had a camera at that moment the chaos resembled the Keystone Cops of the silent film era. Every one on shore was grabbing at whatever they could to assist in dragging this thing up on shore while I was in the back knee deep in much trying to lift not only a 1500 lb hover but probably 2,000 gallons of water while sinking in muck, it was not a pretty sight to behold. My face must have told the whole story because the look on my oldest son’s face was one of pity as he jumped into the water to help his desperate father. Like father like son I guess. His success in this endeavor was pretty close to mine and there we stood father and son sinking with all my hopes and dreams of future hover adventures. Together we did manage to keep the craft from taking on anymore water and with the assistance of those on shore we managed to get the front four to five feet of the hover up on the boat ramp which made holding the rear of the craft up a lot easier. Now the question is what do we do with it at this point?
The craft was still filled with nearly a thousand gallons of water, I couldn’t start it up, and I had no way of moving it any further out of the river. My thoughts were confused and the idea of loosing my huge investment along with everything else tied up with it made me nauseous, but I had to force myself to think solution here. Fortunately my fly on trailer also had an electric wench on it so I thought we can back down the ramp use the wench to pull this thing out of the water. I had my son back down with the trailer we stretched out the cable for the wench hooked onto the front lift eye and hit the switch for the wench. I’m telling you this was a really bad day hovering and it was not about to let up at this point. The sound from the wench was more like a quiver as it may it’s last fleeting attempt at performing with a nudge that was less than a tug it stopped, the battery was dead. I had no jumper cables and no way to power the wench so now what? By this point my strength was dwindling to nothing as I was still holding up the back of this behemoth, you know the feeling when everything begins to shake, add to that the body temperature dropping to the temperature of the cool running river and I was in serious trouble we had to get this thing out of the water and I had to get on shore. I told the boys to pull the truck forward slowly so we could at least pull the hover out of the water enough for Paul and I to get on solid ground. With the wench cable already in place they began to move the entire rig forward I heard things beginning to creek and I knew the strain on the lift eye on the front of the craft was straining to stay in place. So we had to slowly pull the craft up and allow the water to drain. So for the next thirty minutes or so it was tug, drain, tug, and drain until we finally got the thing up on the boat ramp. I had no idea what I was going to do with it at that point but at least it wasn’t sinking anymore.
I thought I will call the towing company I have used over the years they will be able to lift it up and sit it on the trailer, I reached for my cell phone which was securely fastened to my belt. Hmm how can I say this? Cell phone on my belt, the same belt that had just spent the last hour in the river! You guessed it I sat there staring at the water dripping from the casing of my cell phone thinking that figures. Fortunately my son had his cell phone in the front seat of his truck so we were able to use it, as I was talking to the towing company and trying to explain what it was that I needed done Paul suggested we call my daughters boyfriend Russ who has an F350 that could at least pull this thing the rest of the way up onto level ground. So I told the towing company I would call them back if I needed them and I hung up. I now called my daughter to see if we could get Russ over there to help us. He was about thirty minutes away and by now the sun was really dropping and I knew we were looking at nightfall and still trying to get this thing onto the trailer. We managed to move the hover up onto flat ground. And then we somehow got a set of jumper cables, which powered the wench and with everyone lifting and pushing we managed to get the thing up on the trailer strapped down and ready to transport it back to my home.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A really bad day hovering 3

This Picture as nothing to do with the story it is just a reminder of a better day hovering, to keep me from getting to depressed!

Have you ever noticed when things go wrong they go really wrong? This was a really wrong moment, first the words out of my young son’s mouth cut like a knife as he yelled “what were you thinking?” okay now that was really uncalled for I was feeling bad enough without having to be justly scolded by my 17 year old whose two friends were totally convinced I was trying to exterminate both of them and my son. I felt like I had a large L on my forehead and at the moment I was painting it all by myself as I watched him and the two other boys literally leap from the craft to the safety of the river bank. I started to mutter some type of an apology but that was short lived as the next event filled me with horror. Water it was coming into the hover and rather quickly at that. I hit the switch for the bilge pumps; looking back I realized it was like trying to bail out a boat with a tea strainer. It seemed to me that all the bilge pumps increased the flow of water into the hull of the hover. I hit the engine starter and it chirped to life, well actually it was more of a desperate moan and gurgling sound of a drowning man. I thought perhaps if I get the props turning they will blow the water out of the hull and assist the bilge pumps. It did! Only not the way I hoped it would. It seemed like the fans just sucked more water in and they began to sputter like a child blowing through a straw into a glass of milk, and with that I shut the engine off hoping to at least spare the cost of replacing it. Out of all that took place in those few moments of horror the only smart thing I did was now done, by shutting off the engine I did indeed prevent the destruction of my muscle car motor. It was at that moment the next really bad thing happened, you see when you fill a boat with water there comes a moment when the weight exceeds the ability of the flotation device to perform, we had reached that moment when in all tragedies things seem to take a turn for the worse. I felt the craft going down into the murky water of the mighty Pecatonica River, something heroic but rather futile came over me as I jumped into the muddy waters of the river and attempted to lift my nearly one ton hovercraft back up to the surface. Now I had proceeded from the level of stupid to idiot or maybe it is the other way around at any rate my attempt to rescue my $56,000 investment was failing miserably.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A really bad day hovering 2

Sorry no pictures of this adventure trust me you really wouldn't want to see any if I had the time to take them read on and you'll see what I mean
After flying east on this river that is dubbed the “Worlds shallowest longest lake” I was able to turn the craft around and head toward my real destination goal on this river and that was the dam just to the west of the launch. I had flown over the dam with my GT and I felt pretty confident I could do the same with my 800. I had already picked out a point I could run the small craft over with relative smooth accent to the top side of the rock dam, I think this was used as a mill dam at one time but I’m not sure. There is some type of foundation on one side of this thing so I can only imagine that is what it was used for. It is a very crude dam. On the way up the dam I stayed to the path I had taken with my small 10 foot hover, much to my surprise and dismay the 800 hit bottom going up this thing. I wasn’t to keen about smacking the bottom again so after flying only a few yards up this rather narrow river that pretty much ended about 100 yards west due to a massive tree jam I turned and headed back toward the dam considering my options. I really didn’t want to hit bottom again so I hovered at the top of the dam while I picked out a spot that had a greater amount of water running over it. (Did you know that the reason more water runs over a certain part of a rock dam is because the rocks are larger in that spot? I didn’t but I do now!) With the idea of protecting the bottom of the craft I stayed to the left of where I had flown up the dam and revved up the engine and the craft lunged toward my predetermined "easier" to descend the dam spot. It didn’t take long for me to discover the aforementioned truth about the cause of more water/larger rocks concept. The front of the hover struck the big and I mean really big bolder that was covered by the large amount of water. It would have been bad enough had this bolder been a typical stream type rock that was smoothed out by erosion but this thing had a jagged crown to it so not only did the hover hit the bolder but it lodged on the jagged crown of this thing and hung there like a speared carp, in horror I glanced at my youngest son whom I had nearly launched out of the craft and the look on his face told me I had really screwed up. First when we hit the bolder it threw him forward and he hit one of the panels on the windshield and popped it out. The panel projected from it’s housing like a ping-pong ball off a paddle and was nowhere to be seen. I realized at that point we were in big trouble I glanced back at my sons friends who were nearly vomiting in the back of the hover as I’m sure they thought their young lives were over with all the noise and confusion of the hover and water and damage and shear terror of the moment. It is weird what runs through your mind at that point but all I could think about was I wonder where that window panel is at and can I find it? In what I now believe was the providence of the hover god something told me to gun the engine and with that our moment of terror ceased as the hover lunged forward scrapping the entire length of the bottom of the hovercraft as it went forward and off the bolder into the lower part of the river. We had survived the ordeal and no one drowned. A sigh of relief came out of my mouth as I flew the fifty yards to the boat launch, turned a 90 degree angle and brought the hover to rest on the bank just west of the boat launch. I thought this tragedy is bad but at least it’s over. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

A really bad day hovering 1

The purpose of this blog is to help anyone reading it catch the excitement and thrill of hover crafting. I hesitate to say it but I am really hoping readers will get caught up in the reality of hovering, I have always believed that there is nothing quite as exciting as twisting a throttle and lifting off the ground and flying at a very low level. I strive to make this blog as real as possible. My son Paul says to accomplish this I need to share the good and the bad and I’ll be real honest with you this one is about as bad as it gets. I still get this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about this day and it has been a struggle for me to write this and you will see why. I’m sharing this story under protest.
I was going to take my hovers to a fair in the area and I had scoped out the place with my Hoverjet GT. I had recently picked up my 800 and wanted to show it off. So I figured we needed to know what it could do. Now normally I would think through things before I did them but this day I believe I did think but not through the events I am about to share with you. Let me give you a little piece of advise never do with your hover something that could ultimately destroy you and your hover. It was a great idea I figured if I did it with the GT I could certainly do it with the 800. Laws of physics are laws not suggestions and it would have been better for me to have considered this prior to the stunt I am about to share. A 400 lb ten foot GT verses a 1500 lb sixteen foot 800 what could go wrong? The first challenge was getting the 800 from the level grassy field I was parked in to the boat ramp and then down it. I surveyed the situation and realized I could indeed make it down the ramp and back up the ramp with the 800. See, I’m not completely stupid. Prior to taking the craft down the ramp I checked out the small river to determine whether I could fly on such a narrow body of water. Where I was launching was about thirty-five feet wide so I figured I could make a turn even if I had to shut it down and do a 180 from a stopped position. So down the ramp I went slowly and cautiously turned and brought the twin prop to rest on the base of the ramp. That was easy and I was impressed with the maneuverability of the Hover 800 I was really feeling pumped about this as I loaded my son and his two buddies into the craft. The night was warm and the air drawing around us felt good. I just knew this was going to be an exciting night. As it turned out there was going to be a lot of excitement all right just not the kind I was hoping for.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To Own The River


Open water to the south open water to the north where do we go? In a hovercraft anywhere you want! There wasn’t much south of us but a dam to dangerous to mess with so north it was and with that we flew north of the ice arena to see what the river was like. Just past the bridge and open water was some of the smoothest ice I have ever seen on a river. It was covered with just enough snow to make it like small rolling hills, which gave you the sense you were flying in an open field. Seth like any 18 year old was off and running flying ahead of us then around us then circles around us. It was fun to watch him enjoying and experience few young men his age ever get to engage in. There he was flying about 60 mph over a river that you wouldn’t think to travel over with any other vehicle and he was doing it like a guy on a jet ski in summer. Talk about freedom! I was telling someone about our experience and they said, “That sounds dangerous that river ice is so unpredictable” I just smiled and thought, “If you only knew”. My son Paul was with me in our 800 working on getting just the right video moment and me I was just cruising with my heated enclosed twin prop 340 hp dream machine, going where few people have or can go.  I would venture to say that few if any of the people in our area had ever seen this river the way I was able to see it that day, wide open no other traffic on it just me, my two sons, and my little granddaughter and her friend, cruising the river on a lazy winter day in January. We truly owned the river that day simply because we were hovering. We played around and took in the sites for about another 10 miles then the ice became rough and it was no fun so we turned back south and brought our incredible adventure to a close. Hovers do what others can’t come join us.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

To Own The River


One of the worst things you can do as a hover pilot is to do something that causes you to run into something and over the years I’ve done my share of running into something so I’ve learned to resist the temptation to show off and think through what I’m about to do this was no exception. I wanted to check and make sure nothing was close to where I was about to make a turn and I wanted to make sure as I did I didn’t blow someone or something away with the 120 mile per hour wind that pumps off the back side of the prop, and in this case the twin prop. After surveying my surroundings I determined that my maneuver would be a simple low RPM 360 degree spin just to get a feel for what we could do in tight quarters with this big hovercraft. The Hovertour 800 performed beautifully and completed the turn. I have to tell you I was impressed with the agility of this big twin prop. On ice this hover takes on characteristics that it simply cannot have on water due to the surface limitations. What I mean by that is the effect of the hover on water is different than it is on ice air pushing down on water causes the surface to give but on ice the hardness of the surfaces causes the hover to give. In hovering what that means is increased performance. On water you have to overcome the hump, which is the wave of water that is pushed out from under the hovercraft when you blow air across the surface of the water. The hover on ice and land does not have this to overcome so it performs better. The ideal surface is either smooth ice or heavy snow. Both of these surfaces give you maximum lift with minimal resistance. The result is high cushion with faster speeds. A hover that will do 40 on water will do approximately 60-70 on ice if there is no wind resistance. Today was smooth ice moderate wind so I knew we were in for a pretty interesting day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

To Own The River


When we first got to the ramp Seth was the first to get unloaded and onto the ramp leading down to the river. No one had been down the ramp since September so the snow was piled up in front of it, after accessing the situation we determined Seth could just fly the GT over the top of the 4-foot bump and fly out onto the ice and with that he was on his way. Me I was in the Hovertour 800 so it was a little more of a challenge not because it wouldn’t go over it but taking that 1200-pound hover over an obstacle requires some thought. First I had to determine if it was wide enough to allow me to have some kind of level area to fly over, you don’t want to get on top of an obstacle and teeter totter on it. The next thing to consider was would the front of the hover begin the assent before the back of the hover bottoms out so you don’t bridge yourself and loose cushion. I had never run the 800 over such a challenge before so it was more of a guess than a calculation. It looked like it would work so what do I do? I went back to where the 800 was hovering patiently and got in and slowly began to proceed to the point I believed I could fly over the hump. When I got to the point of no return I was a little nervous, by then people were beginning to gather from the ice arena that was just to the south of where we were launching and I thought, “Great now if I mess this up every body will see” nothing like adding a little embarrassment to the equation. Sometimes everything goes just right sometimes it doesn’t this was one of the times things went just right and at the precise moment I needed to I gunned the 340 horse powered V8 and we went up and over the hump like I knew what I was doing, flew down the other side and out onto the river. What a relief I looked good and very professional, which is much better than looking like a fool. With that out of the way it was time to enjoy the wide-open river. I thought how do you follow that up and what do you do for an encore, I had just the maneuver in mind.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To Own The River


Winter, river, ice, and danger seem to go together, however when you own a hovercraft they spell fun and adventure. Now don’t get me wrong you still have to use some common sense. First flying on rough ice is a pain not that you can’t do it in your Hovertechnics hovercraft it’s just not fun it’s like flying on two foot chop you can do it but it is not fun. On the other hand flying on four to six foot waves is fun but that’s another story. The Rock River is a mixture of good and bad but one day in January we found a great combination it was fairly smooth ice and covered with a nice blanket of four inches of snow that was fairly heavy and yet had about one inch of powder on top. You couldn’t ask for a better combination. The temperatures were a little on the cold side at about fifteen degrees. We launched from the ramp in downtown Rockford. Normally in the summer this area is filled with boats and you can hardly move without bumping into someone. Today however with near perfect conditions for the hovercraft there was me in my Hovertechnics 800 and my son’s in our Hovertechnics Hoverjet GT and no one else was out there just us we owned the river for the day. It was ours to go where we wanted and when we wanted. My youngest son Seth is all about the flying if you let him he would fly everyday in any weather my oldest is more about the video and getting the perfect photo’s of our hovering adventures so between the two of them they both had a great day on the ice. Me on a cold day in my heated 800 you couldn’t have asked for more. The family having fun and no one out there but us, if you don’t own your own hovercraft you really need to get in touch with us for less than $200.00 per month you can own your own two-person hovercraft. Trust me when I say there is nothing like a hover. When you are out there on the river and for miles it’s just you and whoever else owns a hovercraft you truly own the river. I will share more of this experience next time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Up the dam


When I first started flying hovercrafts I knew nothing about their ability to hover over objects and not be affected by the surface of the object like a conventional boat would be. I fly on the Rock River in Illinois a lot since I’m from the area and the river is only a few miles from my home. There are certain obstacles you would not attempt to go over with a 16 to 20 foot hover that you could go over with at 10-foot hover and a low head dam is one of those obstacles.  I had heard about a dam at Rockton IL and I thought I would visit the location to see if I could get around it or what the chances were of flying up the dam. The river is split at that point and some of the water is diverted to a hydroelectric plant so the water level is reduced. During the week when no one was around I flew up there and checked it out. As I surveyed the water flow and the face of the dam I decided that I might be able to fly up it, I also determined that if I tried and failed it was low enough only about 7 foot high, that I could abort and allow the hover to turn and come back down. Let me state right here I am basically a chicken when it comes to danger and I avoid it as much as possible. So what I am about to tell you any one attempting this should check out and think through the stunt before you enter into an embarrassing situation. There are low head dams I would not attempt this on but this particular dam is probably one of the safest if you can call it that. I flew back and forth in front of the area I was planning to fly up several times and then backed away twice, at about ten feet from the base I made my approach and gunned the hover up and onto the face of the dam a few feet not completely up it. Once I had done that I knew I could make it over the face of the dam so I let the hover slide back and did a 180 away from it. With confidence I now approached it and gunned the hover one more time and easily shot up over the face of the dam. That opened up about another 6 miles of river for me to fly. Because of the hovers ability to fly over water land snow ice and even low head dams it opens up a lot of areas to us hover pilots. We can start out where everyone else has to stop. In my area alone powerboats have two different locations to take their boats and the stretch of river allows them only about 10 to 15 miles to cover. I figure with my hover in my immediate area I have over 200 miles of river to explore. And with this little adventure it grew by 6 miles. Have you ever gone over a dam? I am one of only a few people who can boast to having done it in reverse. You have to get a hover it’s a blast. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Launching a hovercraft

I typically launch in areas where other people can’t go so I don’t have to mess with the hassles of all the boat ramp stuff. One particular day I decided to launch from a pretty public area and several people came by where I was to ask me questions about my hover and pretty much to see what I would do with it. The boat ramp was fairly busy so I just parked in the boat trailer parking lot about 75 feet from the boat launch and began to take the straps off my hover. After trying to show off one time and nearly sheering off my prop I have learned to do my unloading in a certain pattern to avoid looking like an idiot. So I was working my way through my routine taking the prop strap off first then the rear straps and finally the nose strap off which keeps the hover from flipping off the trailer in transit. People were watching but not totally until I released the pivot lock and swung the trailer around ninety degrees to the unload position and fired up the engine. It was at that point the people around the boat ramp, which numbered around 100 started to really take notice. While I was letting the hover warm up I got my gear out of the truck and put on my life jacket and earplugs then my protective eye wear. I walked back to the hover got in and throttled up and with that it rose off the bed of the trailer and slid to the ground. The single prop hovers that I fly are interesting just sitting still when you are at idle they are revved just enough to keep them on a low cushion while on the trailer so it sits their barely moving almost like it is breathing or like an anxious race horse prancing anticipating it’s run, the hover rather seems alive. When you throttle up it immediately leaps up and slides off the flat bed. So I slid to the ground and brought the hover to rest on the pavement and got out of it. I had to return the trailer to its traveling position so it would be ready for me to reload when I got back. When I went back to the hover I checked over my shoulder to see if there was any traffic around me and when I did I saw a police officer sitting in his squad car. My heart took a little jump, as I thought for the first time in my young piloting experience, “I wonder if there is a law against launching your boat from the parking lot 75 feet from the ramp?” I sort of chuckled as I mused over the thought and figured well what’s he going to do give me a ticket? Can you see me standing in front of a judge and he says, “So you launched your boat in the parking lot?” I took one more look at him and he smiled gave me a thumbs up and with that throttled up and headed for the river. The ramp was busy and I had already spotted a nice slope to the riverbank where I headed to take the hover into the water. It was kind of weird waiting to pass in between vehicles that were lined up to back their boats into the water from the ramp. A gap allowed me to pass between two of the 8 people waiting to unload their boats so I shot through the gap and out into the water. You can’t hear anybody that might be talking around you but I have stood on the shore while my sons have flown out in a similar fashion and it is always the same, “Dang did you see that!” so I’m sure there were a few of those being said that day, probably by the policeman in the squad car.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back to Lake Geneva the end of a great hover day

We returned to the Lake Geneva side of the lake only to find three planes landing on the ice and of course the crowds gathered around them because they were unique till we showed up I had several people inquire as to where they could get a hover and we took a few pictures in fact one of those pictures headlines our web site if you log on you will see Linda standing on the side of the 800 looking out at the airplanes. We then proceeded to load up our hover on the fly on fly off trailer and with that concluded our Lake Geneva Adventure. I think the really fun part about having a hover is that you can do and go where others can’t and the uniqueness of a hover is that it’s a boat, snowmobile, and an ATV all in one incredible machine. What is even better is unlike one of these a hover is all of those and more if the conditions demand that you change vehicles by the time you find out it is too late. For instance if you’re cruising along on your snowmobile and suddenly there is no more ice it’s a little tough to go back and get the boat you’re sunk and treading water. The hover just keeps on going ignoring the change of surface and giving you FREEDOM! You would never think to take your boat on a partially frozen lake or river but the hover doesn’t care it calls to you saying “let’s go play on that!” and if you’re daring enough and if you’re adventuresome enough you heed to it’s calling and plunge into your Adventure! I invite you to come join us because like I always say “Where everyone else has to stop we’re just getting started”. If you enjoyed this little adventure visit our blog again. For information about hovercrafts visit us at  www.hovercraftusa.org

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fontana WI

It was at that point we saw a crowd about 300 yards to the west of us, and realized it was the point of origin for the iceboat racers. Giving them a wide berth we stayed far to the north of the race and practice area and came along the west shore of Fontana dropping down behind the crowds and the action. It was fun to watch the heads turn as we glided across the ice dropped south of the crowd then circled back to the north resting in the center of all that was going on but in a way that was polite and not intrusive to the activities that were going on. It was really interesting to see how this monster gently danced through the crowd of people almost as if I was pushing a baby buggy around a busy street. I had closed the shutters in the rear for high cushion low RPM and virtually no speed. We were traveling a little more than a walk through the group of people, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is to be courteous to those around you when you are in a group of people and they for the most part are fascinated by your hover. However if you are loud and intrusive then they are simply annoyed. Usually event folks want to pay attention to the event and not someone else who just happened by for a visit so we try to keep as low a profile as we can. The people at the race event were very nice and had a few questions about the hover and what it could do and where a person might get one. I felt kind of like a bush pilot showing up in a remote village that had never seen an airplane before. Some were inquisitive others you could tell were looking wondering but too shy to ask. By the time we reached that point in our little adventure we both had to find a bathroom so we inquired and moved on to that point I also asked a few questions about who to talk to about setting up rides and lake adventures around there and got a few names. I would like to have hung around a little more but you never want to stay so long that your host would rather have you leave. Timing is everything and I would rather have people catch a glimpse of us have lots of unanswered questions and then we leave while they are really wanting us to stay. It leaves the door open for other opportunities later. So after a few more questions we got back in the hover and left to head back to the other side of the lake. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ice Boat Racing on Lake Geneva

After lunch we fired up the hover again and set out across the lake. Over in Fontana there was an iceboat race going on. Iceboats are basically a sailboat with outrigger ice skates on it; the things go incredibly fast and are a blast to watch. I got to tell you that little voice inside of all of us men that starts to shout out “you can beat them” was screaming at me, but I, being of a more mature age did what any mature man would do and showed restraint checked all directions to see if there was any other racers out and about that I should know about. When I saw there were none I continued at my leisurely speed for about 10 seconds then the voice yelled at me one more time and I couldn’t help myself in fact it was not me it was some possessed person that gripped the throttle on that beast and twisted the handle grip. I swear all I did was hang on for the ride. It is all really a blur to me now, but I do recall that throaty sound from the engine belching to life and I believe I heard it speak to me and it said “it’s about time you weenie” and with that the craft began to pickup speed and if what I recall of the situation is accurate that iceboat was eating my dust! I remember being brought back to reality by a gentle hand touching my back I think it was one of those “God” spiritual type of moments and with that gentle touch I was released from the grip of that youthful speed demon and brought back to my senses. It was at that moment I felt that gentle touch grow more insistent and realized it was Linda smacking me on the back yelling slow down! With the reflexes of a cat I immediately hit the button for the hydraulics and closed the stationary hover shutters and the hover slowed and I let off the throttle but I was still cruising around 70 mph and decided that a 360 was my best option for slowing the craft so I opened the shutters slightly throttled up and took the twin prop into a quick 360 which was actually rather fun so we did another 360 then another and finally came to a complete stop and did two or three more 360’s. I thought that was a nice end, which could have been considered my victory lap and a spin out in the winner’s circle! I wonder if the other guy knew we were racing? Oh well I had fun with it, victory was mine, and I’m sure I impressed my wife. Sorry no picture of the race I was a little too busy to take a picture but here is another mansion.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lake Geneva a Picnic on the ice

Lake Geneva was the playground of the rich and famous for several years while Hugh Hefner had the Playboy mansion up there so some of the homes along the lake are rather large and impressive. One of those mansions is the Wriggly mansion, which is an old school building that stands out in a stately manner. The grounds are well kept and yet the place has kind of a haunted look about it. Then there were some other homes along there that were pretty cool and I thought if this was summer we could have a picnic right here. Since my 800 sports the GM 350 V-8 liquid cooled engine it has a heater and defroster like an automobile, I had the winter front and the crew enclosure so it was fairly warm inside the hover cabin, even though it was only 25 outside Linda and I were very comfortable wearing sweaters and jeans so we decided since it was so comfortable we would stop and have a picnic in front of one of the mansions. So there we were on that twenty-five degree day in February sitting in front of a mansion sipping a soda and munching on a sandwich talking about how we were the only ones doing the things we were doing. Do you know what it is like to have the knowledge that you are one of only a handful of people who first can do what you are doing and secondly are doing it? So far that was a good day! I was looking around at all the people out there on the ice there were some walking around close to shore, some ice fishing, some playing on the ice with sleds, some were ice skating, there were even 3 airplanes that came in later and landed on the ice, but we were the only ones, possibly in the entire world, sitting in a sixteen foot hovercraft having a picnic in a comfortable 65 degrees. Guys do you want to impress your lady friend take her on a picnic in a place and at a time when no one else could possibly do it and then say to her “honey there is no place I’d rather be than right here with you right now because I love you” then hand her a little “I love you” gift, now that’s romantic. You really have to try this guys it really racks up the points ya know what I mean!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lake Geneva at 60 mph

So where to go? I had never been on the lake before so I wasn’t sure where we wanted to go. That’s the cool thing about having a hover it is seldom about where can you go it is more about where do you want to go. You don’t have to worry about the thickness of the ice and with 40 gallons of fuel on board I really wasn’t worried about the distance I probably had enough fuel to circle the lake about 400 times. This Hovertour 800 is fairly thirsty on water lapping up about 9 gallons of high-octane gas per hour but on ice its is all together different it barely runs more that an idle at around 30 mile per hour. So I figured we were only using about 1-2 gallons per hour. Even at $4 per gal I could afford to cruise all day on this. With that in mind I pointed the hover toward the middle of the lake and twisted the throttle and with that the 800 lunged forward and let out a throaty yelp as if to say “its about time you let me stretch a little”! You know that feeling you get when something cool is happening and you are there but you almost feel like you are watching it in slow motion? That pretty much sums up how I was feeling that day and when the 800 was cruising 8 inches off the surface and hitting about 60 miles per hour I thought I need to show some restraint here so I hit the button on the handle bars and slowly the hydraulic pump began to close the rear shutters and slow the crafts acceleration slightly and we tapered off to a speed of about 40. It is hard to describe the sensation you get skimming over the surface at that speed I guess it would be like being strapped to the front of an airplane while the pilot is either just lifting off or just before he touches down on the runway only you never lift off more than 8 inches and you never touch down more than 8 inches. Did you know that at 40 miles per hour on a lake that is 3 miles long you could reach the other side in about 4-5 minutes? There was no speed limit out here on the lake so it was how fast do you want to get there? I really wasn’t in a race and the purpose of being out here was to take in the sights so I thought lets drop this thing down to around 15 miles per hour and see what this shore line looks like. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lake Geneva continued

After unloading we were ready to launch. Linda and I had never taken the 800 on a long ride before just little hops on a frozen river and I didn’t know what to expect out of its performance on such a wide-open lake. Earlier that summer I had an engineer tell me he thought based on the design the craft would probably hit somewhere around 200 miles per hour given the right conditions and enough room to reach that speed. Today was that type of day and the lake was big enough, all that remained was my nerve and it wasn’t being very supportive of anything even close to that speed. You know as a guy something inside of you wants to try it just once but at my age I’ve learned to put that little boy in check. However I couldn’t help showing off a little and since all the people around me were avoiding the open water of the docking area I thought it would be fun to head right toward it. I started out slowly and moved the hover over by the docks and then gunned it and flew over the ice like an eagle soaring toward its next meal with the occasional wing tap on the surface my big yellow hover attacked it’s challenge and conquered it without even slowing down. The Hovertour 800 on the ground is a beast and you would never be able to move it but once on cushion it's more like a seagull or a duck floating on top of the water. I keep telling people the hover is awesome on ice because it's also a boat and will float you go where you want and don't worry about the conditions. Thin ice no ice it's all the same. The first time I flew a hover on thin ice and it began to crack as I traveled across it I almost panicked I swear all of my instincts were screaming "your gonna die" then my brain kicked in and I remembered it would float and then it became an experience you have to do to understand. After crossing the open water and returning to the ice I did a 360 spin just to make sure the crowds around me were looking and saw what I had just done. I wasn’t disappointed you could tell they were all impressed. Ok so it was a little show boating but when you got it you might as well flaunt it. With that I pointed the 800 toward open ice and we were under way.