Floating above the ground on a cushion of air, hovercraft can traverse over just about any terrain, including water, grass, ice, mud, sand, snow, or swamp. Powered by an engine and propeller, hovercraft can easily make the transition from land to water, reaching areas other vehicles cannot. Yet modern hovercraft have come a long way since their invention in the 1950s. Today’s hovercraft may be used for a variety of purposes, from military to recreational use. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular uses for modern hovercraft.
Hovercraft are frequently used as transporters for military purposes for the U.S. Marines and Navy. These large hovercraft can carry 60-65 tons, enabling them to transport troops, military supplies, or even tanks. Because they can access areas other vehicles cannot, hovercraft are also used by the military for humanitarian assistance, rescue missions and disaster relief efforts.
Passenger and commercial use
A group in Niagara, Canada is hoping to use hovercraft to ferry tourists and workers from Toronto and Niagara each day. The hovercraft would be a cost-effective option for commuters who must drive or fly to Niagara. The hovercraft would also be helpful during inclement weather, as they can travel across ice and snow more safely than cars or trucks.
Oil spill response
Hovercraft are also often used to respond to oil spills. Hovercraft have the ability to carry heavy oil spill response equipment across the ocean, without the use of boat propellers that can churn up surface oil and make matters worse. Floating on a cushion of air, the fast speed of hovercraft also allows them to reach the spill quickly and minimize harm.
Perhaps one of the newest uses for personal hovercraft is the BW1 Golf Cart Hovercraft, conceived by professional golfer Bubba Watson and built by Neoteric Hovercraft. Although personal hovercraft are traditionally used to maneuver ice and flood waters for rescue missions, Watson found that the versatile terrain of golf courses could also be traversed effectively on a hovercraft. The BW1 can skim quickly over sand traps and water without leaving damaging tire marks on the green. Though hovercraft may never replace the traditional golf cart, a few courses have actually started making hovercraft available for golfers to rent.