Friday, November 23, 2012

Snowmobile hovering

Funny how many people are surprised that the hover can travel over snow? Something just doesn’t seem to click when it comes to the ability of the hovercraft. Some of my best hover experiences have come during my winter flights either over a snow covered field or a frozen river or lake. The great thing about the hover on snow is the smoothness of the ride. The hover doesn’t just run over the snow it flies over it so the ride you get compared to a snowmobile or an ATV is totally different. Your hover actually floats over the ground like a bird and it makes no impact on the surface below. I have a local sod farm that has no issue with me flying my hover over his sod fields year round. He and I have talked about this in the past and he hates having snowmobiles run over his property because of the damage it does to the sod. ATV’s believe it or not also pack the sod when they run across the surface even with the snow covering. The hover however has a footprint equal to a seagull standing on one foot which is virtually no impact at all.

When you operate on slushy snow the hover is incredibly fast much like it is over flat smooth ice, when you fly over powder snow you get about the same amount of blow as you do when you are on water. What snow provides you with is a greater opportunity to fly. A little snow over an open field and you can basically fly your hover anywhere. A lot of snow and you can go where snowmobiles will typically bog down. Plus when you land you have such a wider impact surface that you don’t sink in.

Picture with me if you will flying on a river that is partially frozen, skimming over the ice and water with equal ease, you spot an open field that you want to explore so you point your hover toward the 4 foot bank and gun the engine the hover shoots up over the bank of the river that is snow covered and you go airborne as you clear the top of the riverbank. You land on the other side of the bank in an open field where no one has attacked the virgin snow. Your flying experience is awesome as you realize you are probably the only one who will view that spot on earth for a long time to come.

I’m looking forward to the 2012/13 winter season using my Hoverjet GT. This is an experience you have to try.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Survey hovercraft Gateway Services

To my knowledge Gateway Services Group are the first to utilize a hovercraft for survey purposes in the US. While the USGS has operated two Hovertechnics hovercraft for several years, Gateway Services Group has taken a bold step into the future by purchasing a hovercraft for use in their surveys for the pipeline industry. According to team member CB the situations they find themselves in requires a piece of equipment that can operate on a variety of surfaces and they believe the hovercraft will be the machine that will allow them to easily reach areas that previously they could not reach. On October 30th 2012 Gateway launched into a new era by purchasing and training their team as hover pilots. With a group of about 12 team members present on training day, we realized there are a lot of items that need to be ironed out with regard to use of the hover in the pipeline survey industry. According to SM a manager for Gateway Services Group the fact that the unit is registered as a boat but can be used as an ATV raises some interesting issues when it comes to regulations and safety requirements. The hovercraft is a crossover vehicle that operates as easily on water as it does on land, mud, and ice. While the Texas based company is doubtful they will see much ice they have had great concerns over reaching remote areas and moving people and equipment in and out of these areas.

Thank you, Gateway for choosing TLS WindSled as your supplier and for having the future vision to use a hovercraft in your industry. In future articles we will discuss some lessons we learned from partnering with Gateway and some innovative ideas it has spawned.