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