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.

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