Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mississippi River a new pilot is born

A few weeks ago a person called me and asked a few questions about hovercrafts. He asked if I had any used hovers available and I told him I had one Hoverstar SP with a 100 hp motor. He asked if I could bring it up to show him how it operated. After making our arrangements we set the date, however the weather did not cooperate and we had to postpone it until March 10, 2012. This year has been extremely warm for winter in our part of the country and ice has been almost non existent, I was hoping he would be able to provide me with some solid ice to fly on instead of just cold water. It didn't look promising since it was supposed to be 60 at the location of our outing. My grandson Zach agreed to ride along with me and help me with the demonstration. What that typically means is he gets to ride along on the hover so he jumped at the chance. Zach was not disappointed he did indeed take a hover ride with us. Old Miss was running clear at the point we were going to enter the river however the bays and backwater was still frozen so we really got the best of both worlds. I entered the water from a boat ramp with about a 20% grad and Gerald our host was curious if the hover could make it up and down the ramp. I pointed out a couple of hills leading down to the river and told him if he wanted to he could fly his hover up those and load and unload from the street above. To say the least he was impressed. However talk is cheap and we needed to back it up with some action. I powered up the hover and flew out for a quick warm up round on the river. The hover responded beautifully so I turned back toward shore and landed on the nice sandy beach that bordered the park we were launching from. Several people stopped by to take a look at us hovering around, which is pretty typical. I loaded up Gerald and Zach gave a few instructions to Gerald about what we would do and he pointed to a bay covered with ice and said let's head over there. This bay was about a mile in diameter so it was plenty big enough to cruise around on as I approached the ice rim I slowed the hover and just as we were touching the rim I throttled up and brought the nose of the hover up on the ice. I knew my passenger was impressed when the transition was smooth and we were gliding across ice to thin to hold a mans weight. I followed the ice for a while then headed for the shore line were there was some waiting swamp grass and we flew up on the shore and settled down and I shut the hover off for a minute to explain what we were going to do next. Gerald was looking around and said land to water to ice to land and back this is amazing. This thing can climb hills too why would anyone not want to have one of these? By this point I knew we had a new hover pilot. Gerald wanted to take the hover out into open water so I asked him if we could get through or did we have to go back out the way we came? He said "I don't know I've never been able to get back into this area before" so I said let's go check it out. With that I powered up the hover again and headed back out onto the ice. Darn no other way to get back out so we headed back up toward the opening of the bay. As we were crossing out into the bay I noticed a cut away along the shore and thought it might lead out to the open channel but by then we were already on water so I figured we would just continue on. Turning into the open channel we cruised about a mile up river and I brought the hover to a stop, shut the engine off, and said "people always ask if these can float when the motor is not running" the answer to that would be yes since we are sitting here floating. I then explained to Gerald that the Hovertechnics LC models were very stable and I could install a fishing platform and stand or sit on that and fish from any point around the hover if I wanted to. After discussing a few more points about hovering on water I fired up the engine again turned the hover slowly back down river throttled up and rose up on cushion again. I found the opening to the little cut away I had spotted on our way out of the bay and decided to take it as a short cut back to our launch point. Back on shore I explained to Gerald that one of the things I personally like about hovering is that if you are flying and want to check something out the only thing you have to worry about is how much time and fuel you have, you don't have to worry about water depth, ice, rocks, logs, or all the other things that a boat or snowmobile have to worry about you just look at it and fly to it. I could tell my passenger was still not sold on hovering so I asked Zach to stay on shore while I took Gerald back out I then asked Gerald if he would like to fly it. He hesitated a moment then said sure. I gave him a couple of quick instructions about how I would communicate with him and off we went. Without any prior experience in a hover Gerald was able to fly out onto the water engage the ice shelf and make some pretty impressive maneuvers on the ice.
When we got back to shore I asked Gerald if he was ready to buy? He said I'm not sure let's talk on the way back to the house. Interestingly enough most of his conversation was about how he would do this and that with his hover. When we got back to the house he instructed me to back the hover into his barn next to his Harley. And with that a new hover pilot was born. Welcome to hovercraft my friend.

No comments:

Post a Comment