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 

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 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.