How not to make a hovercraft

The author astride his 'hovercraft'  the 'Go Nowhere' Mk1

The author astride his 'hovercraft' the 'Go Nowhere' Mk1

As I grow older, I value positivity more and more highly. I admire people who do things rather than say things. And with this in mind I spent last Saturday trying to building a hovercraft. I don’t know why exactly. I sort of had in mind that it could somehow be useful for some kind of science ambassador activity. But I didn’t have much time and so while I eventually managed to lift my self up on my craft, it didn’t really ‘hover’ as all the videos I had seen on YouTube implied. But there is no way better to learn than by failing! And I will figure it out on another Saturday. You can see the extent of my achievement on this short, blurry You Tube clip.

I tried to build something like this:

Hovercraft Plans

Hovercraft Plans

I used a 2500 W leaf blower (£48  from Wickes) which seemed powerful enough. I used it in ‘vacuum’ mode and just stuck the exhaust (where the bag normally goes) in a hole in a 1 metre diameter disc of plywood. I made the curtain out of a plastic tarpaulin, and pinned the centre of the tarpaulin to the underside of the disc with a circle of wood, and then tacked the edge of the tarpaulin to the top side of the main disc. I made 8 holes 1 cm x 1 cm in the tarpaulin to let air into the centre ‘well’ underneath the disc. Of course, this is not really a hovercraft, more of a low friction device. The key difference is that a hovercraft can support its own weight and so travel over water – this design of craft cannot do that.

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