We can source hovercraft from overseas saving you the hassle of importing & shipping. We are here to help you take your first steps into the unique & amazing world of hovercraft. We can help you with your first hovercraft test flight experience and basic training. We can also assist you with your maintenance and servicing needs. At Hovercraft Africa we are passionate about hovercraft of all shapes and sizes, come and join the unique and amazing world of all that is hovercraft.
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Hovercraft float on a cushion of air that is why they are sometimes referred to as air cushion vehicles (ACV's).
Air is constantly pushed under the hovercraft hull with a fan and air is temporally held there by a flexible skirt that is attached around the hull, and because bottom of the skirt is open the air constantly escapes from under the skirt. However the air pressure under the hovercraft remains slightly higher than atmospheric pressure and so the hovercraft is lifted up and hovers!
As the air escapes from under the skirt it leaves a little air gap between the edge of the skirt and the surface it is floating on. Because the hovercraft is hovering it can move in any direction with very little friction.
A hovercraft is propelled forward with the aid of a fan or propeller. Some hovercraft designs usually small light hovercraft utilise what is known as integrated systems this uses a single powered fan for both lift and propulsion. Some of the thrust air is diverted under the hull of the hovercraft to create the lift. Some small hovercraft and large hovercraft use a dedicated fan for lift (a lift fan) and a separate fan for propulsion sometimes with two separate engines to run these fans.
As above, the hovercraft is propelled forward with a fan or propeller. The direction of the air flow is controlled by rudders behind the fan. The pilot of the hovercraft controls the rudders direction with either handle bars or a steering wheel. Some hovercraft even have ailerons like a plane to direct the air flow up or downward to help trim the hovercraft.
There are many variation on this theme and there are many different types, designs and size of hovercraft but they all use basically the same principle.
Hovercraft are unique and amazing vehicles, they can travel over pretty much any relatively smooth surface like water, sand, mud, ice, snow, short grass concrete and tarmac! And can easily transition between all of these surfaces. Because the skirt under the hovercraft is flexible they can also pass over obstacles. Small hovercraft can pass over small obstacles say 100mm high and big hovercraft can pass over bigger obstacles sometimes over a 1m high.
Because of the versatility of hovercraft they can be used in many different theatres of operation and have many different applications.
Hovercraft Africa now offer various services from simple advice over the phone to charters for light industrial applications.
Feel free toGive Us a Call
The founder of "Hovercraft Africa" Tim Dawson had been interested in hovercraft from a small boy since his father once took him to watch some hovercraft racing in the 70's. Originally coming from the UK Tim remembers as a child sitting watching the passenger hovercraft that still operates a service over to the Isle of Wight from South Sea and was mesmerized as the hovercraft transitioned from land to water.
As an adult the passion for hovercraft was still alive in Tim when he came across an old hovercraft that had been abandoned. Tim set about restoring the hovercraft, and to his dismay found that there was very little to no information available in South Africa regarding hovercraft. Many years ago there was a hovercraft club in Gauteng but it no longer existed. As for parts, equipment and advice there was very little to nothing available.
They say necessity is the mother of invention...
that is the case with "Hovercraft Africa"
Eventually through trial and error, time on the internet and calls to the USA and the UK and buying parts and equipment online Tim restored his first Hovercraft. This is all well and good but it's no fun on your own!
So, for the love of hovercraft and to prevent other like-minded people having to go through the trials and tribulations of trying to find information regarding hovercraft in Africa "Hovercraft Africa" was born.
Hovercraft have many commercial and industrial uses due to the fact that they can go places other water-craft and vehicles can't go. Hovercraft have been successfully used in many applications, hovercraft are very adaptable and can be modified to a multitude of applications.
Hovercraft trips and charters
Survey and maintenance work on rivers mud flats and estuary's
Spraying problem aquatic plans like water hyacinth
Drilling, coring, surveys on dams and even clearing mine fields in the Middle East.
Many military and security organizations around the world are using hovercraft, from large LCAC landing craft to light small fast hovercraft.
As the American military says "no beach out of reach"
Hovercraft are ideal for river border patrols as they are not affected by water depth.
Hovercraft are used by quick reaction forces to cover the terrain quickly.
Hovercraft are used for troop and equipment movements to areas where conventional boats or vehicles can't get to.
Hovercraft are suited to Insurgency and rescue operations.
Hovercraft are ideally suited for a multitude of rescue applications:
Hovercraft are not affected by underwater obstacles or the depth of water.
Hovercraft are not affected by fast flowing flood water containing submerged debris.
Hovercraft have no propeller in the water so it is very safe to use to rescue people from flood water.
Hovercraft are ideal for mud, quick sand and ice rescue.
Hovercraft are fast to deploy once on site.
The main fan can be used to clear smoke from buildings
Hovercraft are very environmentally friendly.
They do not create a bow wave like conventional boats and leave little wake behind them.
Hoverrcraft don’t put their exhaust gasses into the water like conventional boats.
Hovercraft have no underwater pressure signature and no impact on marine life.
Modern hovercraft are very fuel efficient.
Hovercraft leave no permanent tracks on land.
WHERE CAN YOU USE IT?
Any relatively flat surface where the skirt can seal, short grass, mud, sand, snow, ice, water, marshes, tarmac, concrete pretty much anywhere except loose rocks, pebbles and long grass because the skirt cant seal. So, sports fields, lakes, rivers, dams etc...
CAN I DRIVE IT ON THE ROAD?
Yes, but legally No!
DO I NEED A LICENCE TO DRIVE ONE?
In South Africa a hovercraft is considered a boat and if you wish to use it on public rivers and dams you must follow all the regulations applicable to boats. Therefore you will need a skipper's licence this is a simple one day course. Also the hovercraft will have to go through a COF inspection have a buoyancy certificate and be registered and issued a number. It sounds a lot, but not really…..
WHAT ENGINE DO THEY HAVE?
Hovercraft come in different shapes and sizes and have different engines. Modern light hovercraft are moving away from noisy two stroke engines to more fuel efficient and quieter four stroke engines. Larger hovercraft are moving away from gas turbine engines to diesel engines.
HOW MUCH DO THEY COST?
Call us, and we will discuss your needs and get you a price.
IF THE ENGINE STOPS WILL IT SINK?
Hovercraft float like a boat, and if swamped (full of water) will continue to float.
WHAT IS THE SKIRT MADE FROM?
The skirt on a hovercraft is a bit like the tires on a car they do eventually wear out. I have seen hovercraft skirts made from various materials but the wrong material will dramatically affect the performance of the hovercraft. Proper hovercraft skirt material is a neoprene coated nylon or similar, it is not cheap but it is incredibly strong and hard wearing. A recreational hovercraft, well set up, with good lift performance with a good quality skirt can last up to 5 years.
Most modern light hovercraft have segmented skirts so you only have to replace or simply refit the damaged segment. You can lose a few segments before you notice a drop in lift performance.
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Plan your cruise: Make sure you are aware of your craft (and your own!) limitations and plan accordingly – carefully check weather forecasts and be aware of pull-out locations and sheltered spots. Make sure someone knows where you are going.
Fuel: Pay close attention to fuel management and re-fuel in a safe way and in a safe place. Make sure you carry enough fuel for your journey (always include a 30% minimum reserve). Know your craft and your limits: Plan your route according to both. Don't overload your craft! An overloaded craft will be operating near or at its limit – any minor weather change could push it over that limit! Keep within the law: Before operating ensure that your intended route will not infringe local by-laws, navigation restrictions or wildlife sanctuaries.
Be Prepared: Full safety equipment must to be carried and checked - carry out a craft preflight check every time you stop! Make sure you have suitable clothing for all forecast conditions (getting wet can be extremely dangerous – always carry spare clothing!). Carry a basic first-aid kit, clean water and an emergency repair kit with you at all times.
Comms: Make sure you have some way to summon help in an emergency (e.g. marine VHF radio – check reception, mobile phone – check it works where you are going, flares, etc).
Don’t drink and drive: You know it makes sense. Alcohol badly affects your responses and judgement
Operate with consideration: Operate with due consideration for others at all times – watch your fan/prop blast and make sure bystanders are kept well clear when manoeuvring on land.
Noise: Use minimum speed and throttle when close to populated areas, people or wildlife.
Avoid beach buzzing: Try not to go past the same area more than once an hour. Stay away from populated beaches, shorelines or public areas unless no other route is available.
Watch your speed: Adjust your speed to suit the conditions or waterway regulations and take extra care when close to other water users.
Take care of the Environment: Don't damage plants, vegetation or disturb wildlife. Stay at least 100 metres away from feeding birds on water or mudflats and keep a safe distance from crocodiles, hippos, seals and cetaceans (dolphin, porpoise, etc.)