Kids take turns riding in child-sized hovercraft
Aug. 30, 2002
By Peter Ciancone
Michael Barrett said it was like floating.
The 11-year-old who attends Rio Grande Elementary School was
among the first to ride on the newest exhibit at the Children's
Science and Technology Museum of Terre Haute: a child-sized hovercraft.
The exhibit is presented in conjunction with World Hovercraft
Week 2002, coming to Terre Haute Sept. 15-22.
Museum director Jerry Mansfield said that in addition to the
hovercraft -- made of plywood, Plexiglas, a synthetic material
used to make air bags and an electric leaf blower -- the museum
would post displays showing the history of the technology and the
concept behind it.
"They can even put their hands down while they ride and
feel the air," he said.
The simple craft is powerful enough for adults to feel the ride
on a cushion of air.
Chris Fitzgerald, chairman of the upcoming hovercraft event and
president of Neoteric Hovercraft, a Terre Haute company that builds
and sells the unique craft all over the world, said the display
was a way to introduce children to the technology, to teach them
a bit about the physics of the craft, and to interest them in the
"It's probably one of the few chances in your lifetime you'll
have a chance to see this," he said, of World Hovercraft Week.
It will include land and water racing, and an additional learning
experience for older students.
James C. Wallace II will supervise a group of students from Terre
Haute North Vigo and South Vigo high schools, West Vigo High School
and Northview High School in building a hovercraft kit.
"At the conclusion of four days, we'll have a working hovercraft," he
Rachael Manning, 5, floated in the craft, looking down through
her feet to see what it was she was floating on. She rode for a
minute, pronounced it fun, and dashed off to another part of the
museum to test the displays.
The Children's Museum, located at 523 Wabash Ave., is open from
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.