The hovercraft is the only fully amphibious mechanical device, as it can go everywhere: on land, water, sand, snow or ice. The principle of the hovercraft is simple: you just need to send air permanently underneath to lift it and make it move.


Information of interest

  • Vehicle Type: Aircraft
  • Inventor:  Christopher Cockerell
  • Year:  1952
  • Main uses:  Civil, sports, military

What is a hovercraft?


The hovercraft is an aircraft that moves thanks to the effect it produces when air is thrown against the surface that is below it, creating an air cushion that allows it not to make greater friction with the surface on which it moves. It is often driven by propellers. It can travel on sand, sea, snow or ice and can reach a speed of more than 150 km per hour . In English its name is hovercraft.

  • Hovercraft history
  • Hovercraft Features
  • How does a hovercraft work?
  • Military use
  • How to make a homemade hovercraft?
  • Step 1
  • Step 2

Hovercraft history

The story of the hovercraft begins with the Swedish philosopher and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg who created a platform that resembled a boat in reverse and contained an air cushion that gave the vehicle propulsion. This design also had a central cockpit and paddle-shaped blades that would serve to push the air downward.

This idea by Emanuel Swedenborg did not take place because human force did not produce enough thrust to lift the aircraft.

In 1952, Christopher Cockerell, a British inventor, developed an engine that would allow a vehicle to be suspended on an air cushion and could move on various surfaces such as muddy, watery or firm ground.

Between 1959 and 1961, the first public tests were carried out thanks to the British aircraft manufacturer Saunders Roe. The first aircraft was called the SR-N1 and it was capable of carrying one person .

In 1961, the Vickers VA-3, the first passenger hovercraft off the coast of Wales, was created.

In the 1960s Sauders Roe developed different models of hovercraft that could carry more passengers. Among his designs were the SR-N2 and SR-N6, both of which were equipped with turboprops.

In the early 1970s, French engineer Jean Bertin developed a hovercraft train called Aérotrain , which won the world speed record among air cushion vehicles, reaching a top speed of 430 km / h.

Currently, there are different types of hovercraft for civil, sports and military use that can be used on lakes, swamps, rivers and other surfaces.

In Europe , hovercraft championships are held that are not sponsored but have a growing fan base.

In the military field, hovercraft can reach a speed that can go unnoticed by some radars or sonars and also do not leave traces of their route.

Hovercraft Features

Regarding the most relevant characteristics of the hovercraft, it can be mentioned that:

  • It is an aircraft that moves through the air.
  • It has an air mattress or cushion at the bottom.
  • It has two or more engines. One moves the propellers to eject the air against the surface and the other gives speed and direction to the vehicle.
  • It can ride on flat ground such as water, snow, ice, or sand.

How does a hovercraft work?

It is an aircraft that moves thanks to an air cushion that separates the vehicle from the surface below it , be it land or water. After being separated from the ground by the effect of the jet of air that is generated by its lower engine, there is another or other engines that allow it to move forward or backward at different speeds . In this sense, it has two forces to move, one downward, generated by the air cushion to avoid friction with the ground and another horizontal to give advance or direction to the vehicle.

Military use

In the military field, hovercraft have been used by many armies worldwide, either for the transfer of weapons or combat vehicles.

How to make a homemade hovercraft?

Making a homemade hovercraft is very easy. You only need a few materials that you can have at home and follow two simple steps.

Materials are:

  • A compact disc that you don’t use.
  • A plastic bottle cap that has a valve that lets the water out by pulling the top or top of a plastic bottle
  • A balloon.
  • Liquid glue or silicone.
  • Cardstock (if you use the top of the bottle).

Step 1

To make the hovercraft, you just have to place the glue on the edge of the plastic bottle and stick it in the center of the compact disc, making sure that there are no empty spaces between the disc and the bottle cap.

If you don’t have such a cap, you can cut the top off a bottle and glue it to the compact disc in the center.

Step 2

After gluing the cap to the disk, you just have to inflate the balloon and place it in the closed cap of the bottle.

As you lift the cap valve, the air in the balloon will press downward and the puck will move in one direction, like a hovercraft.

If using the top of a bottle, a piece of cardboard should be placed in the hole of the compact disc with five small openings for air to pass through. The balloon is then inflated and placed in the mouth of the bottle. Thus, the disc will begin to move across the floor.

It is very important that the surface where the hovercraft is traveling is as flat as possible.

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