Some of the important features of personal hovercraft to check before sale are visible to the naked eye and some are not. Others can be tested while looking around the craft, while others still need the craft to be moving. The last category you'll have to take the manufacturer's word for, and so you'll be depending heavily on their reputation and whatever information you ca glean from previous customers - the net is great for this kind of thing. Let us imagine that you're walking up to anew hovercraft and you know absolutely nothing about the industry. What questions should you ask and what should you look for?
We should assume that you've done a minimum amount of homework and are generally happy with company's reputation - you now want to get your hands on an ACV. First of all, do you like the look of it? Just like a car, you need to find it agreeable because you'll be using for quite a while. Take a look at the fittings and fastenings. It's pretty easy to see bad construction and it's mostly the little things that can flag up possible problems. If there is a screw missing from a safety handle, then it's possible that other screws are not too tight and could give trouble later on.
Show the sale person that you know a bit about the subject of hovercraft performance and design by asking about how good ti is at 'getting over the hump'! This is the term used in the industry for the ability of air cushioned vehicles to life off from water, which normally requires up to 300% of floating power to achieve - good explanation here. Helicopters take up to three times more power to lift off than a hovercraft needs to hover, so this feature is a great indicator of performance.
Next, it's an absolute must to ask about the reaction of the craft to the phenomenon known as 'plow in'. This can happen in choppy seas, for example, when waves are constantly lapping up over the bow. In certain circumstances the bow of the hull can be pulled down into the water with disastrous results. Basically, it comes to a full stop, throwing everything that isn't fastened down over the front of the craft. Even if passengers are well strapped in, there is still real risk of injury.
We should be very careful what we wish for. Back in the 60s I used to watch Super Car on TV, with Mike Mercury the puppet character and wished that we all had our own personal floating car that didn't depend on wheels or anything else. Well now we have it! Small personal hovercraft are making a splash everywhere all over the globe, and the price is well withing reach of ordinary mortals like us. For the sporting enthusiast, around 10 000 dollars is considered within reach and you could easily spend that for a top line quad or speed boat. However, air cushioned craft, for that is the real name of the hovercraft, are none of these.
First off, you don't need wheels or a propeller to get these things moving, and moving fast! There's no drag on the vehicle except air flow, which is at the same time an advantage and a disadvantage. With no wheels on the ground , propeller or rudder in the water, it takes quite a while to slow down, stop or change direction. All this means is that there is a learning curve when starting to operate small hovercraft, so it's a no-brainer when it comes to driving it around.
Personal hovercraft have been around for some decades, but not in it's present form. Recent developments in material technology and construction methods have ensured that the price is right, while safety and maintenance are top class. For example, the first hovercraft were made with hulls of glass fiber, which tended to split when they hit something - not a very good advertisement for the industry! Nobody wants a vehicle that breaks in half and takes a lot of money to put back in order, so it was back to the drawing board for the designers. Click to see site
The skirts too have had a complete overhaul. Originally they were made out of rip stop sail cloth, which is used for the big sailing boats. New materials include neoprene coated nylon and kevlar, which is an incredibly tough material capable of stopping bullets. In addition, the engines come in choices of size and are almost maintenance free, apart from popping some oil in now and again. Personal hovercraft transport is certainly taking off ans set to grow in the coming years. Racing enthusiasts like the way you have to throw your weight around to steer them and the family man appreciates the modern commitment to safety.