Explore the Technology

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a hovercraft?

A light hovercraft flies up to 9" off the surface on a cushion of air. It will fly over any relatively smooth surface - water, grass, ice, snow, mudflats, or marshes - and can be used year-round for sports, recreation, commercial or rescue purposes.
 

What are hovercraft used for?

Hovercraft are so versatile that their applications are as diverse as the people who use them. They are most often used to reach areas that are inaccessible on foot or by conventional vehicles.


How does a hovercraft work?

To understand how hovercraft work, it is necessary to realize that the dynamics are more closely related to aircraft than to boats or automobiles. Hovercraft float on a cushion of air that has been forced under the craft by a fan. This causes the craft to rise or lift and fly above the surface. Hovercraft are the amphibious member of the air cushion vehicle family and are the most novel among vehicles that are supported by pressurized air. Learn More


Why a Neoteric Hovercraft?

There is no vehicle comparable to a hovercraft – especially the Neoteric Hovertrek. With the Hovertrek, you won't own just a versatile sport and utility vehicle; you'll own more than 40 years of solid research and development, unsurpassed engineering, award-winning design, and the only hovercraft in the world with effective brakes via our patented reverse thrust. 
 

How fast will the hovercraft go?

Depending upon the effects of terrain and weather, the average speed of hovercraft is 35 mph (56 km/h) - faster on ice or when going downwind, slower when on dense grass or rough surfaces, or when there is a headwind.


How much does a hovercraft cost?

Our recreational hovercraft are available for as low as $19,500 and up to $36,000 with options. Rescue hovercraft range from $28,000 to $79,000 and commercial hovercraft from $36,000 to $90,000. Trailers range from $3,000 to $12,600. (Prices in US Dollars.)
 

How is a hovercraft different FROM an airboat?

Hovercraft use less fuel, make less noise, are dynamically safer, more maneuverable, more versatile and are better at amphibious tasks than airboats. Hovercraft are flying machines that travel above the surface on a cushion of air. Airboats are simply flat-bottomed boats with a huge two- to six-bladed propeller; their entire weight planes across the surface like a ski. On water, airboats create a wake; hovercraft do not because they fly several inches above the water. Both are amphibious vehicles but the hovercraft, since it rides on a bubble of air, is better on dry terrain. Unlike hovercraft, airboats are known to give a rough ride over mud, sand, pavement, gravel, grass or other dry surfaces; usually while damaging its flat, plastic-coated hull. Plastic is used to reduce friction and help protect the hull when crossing such terrain. Airboats are even limited to fairly smooth water because their hulls contain minimum flotation and are easily swamped. The airboat’s tall propeller also limits its usefulness in areas with overhead obstructions, which are often found in flood conditions. The airboat’s propeller runs close to the speed of sound and generates twice the noise of a hovercraft.

Airboats have a high thrust-to-weight ratio, close to 1:1, so airboat thrust is equal to gross weight. Hovercraft thrust is only 1/10 the gross weight. Since energy consumption is related to thrust, an airboat consumes two to three times more energy than a hovercraft, therefore uses more fuel.

The airboat’s high center of gravity make them more prone to flipping over than hovercraft, which are also more maneuverable than airboats; especially Neoteric Hovertrek, whose patented reverse thrust system lets them back up at speed.
 

Do hovercraft hurt the environment?

No. The unique characteristics of the hovercraft make it one of the most environmentally friendly vehicles in the world. One of these characteristics is the hovercraft's low "footprint pressure." The pressure a hovercraft exerts on its operating surface is conservatively 1/30th that of the human foot! The average human being standing on ground exerts a pressure of about 3 lb per square inch (20 KPa), and that increases to 25 lb per square inch (172 KPa) when walking. In contrast, the average hovercraft exerts a pressure of only 0.33 lb (2.2 KPa) per square inch - even less as speed increases. This "footprint pressure" is below that of a seagull standing on one leg! During demonstrations, hovercraft have literally flown over a pedestrian without inflicting harm.


Are hovercraft easy to operate?

First, it is necessary to understand that you are actually flying -- low to the ground, but flying nonetheless. Therefore, you will need proper pilot training to ensure safe, enjoyable hovering. At Neoteric, great care is taken in preparing you for your first "hover". Before your first flight, you are schooled in the principles and preventative maintenance of hovercraft. Then, you will spend a minimum of 2 1/2 hours hovering on land and water until you achieve sufficient pilot experience to receive Neoteric's certification of competency.
 

How safe is a hovercraft?

Over the hovercraft’s half-century of existence, it has proven to be quite possibly the safest vehicle ever built. Unlike boats, the Neoteric Hovertrek hull is filled with US Coast Guard-approved closed-cell foam, which prevents sinking. Because they travel above the surface on a cushion of air, hovercraft fly over obstacles rather than colliding with them. As an example, Hovertrek can even fly over eggs without cracking them! And because hovercraft tend to operate where no other vehicle can go, the risk of vehicle-to-vehicle crashes is extremely low.


How do you steer or stop?

Hovercraft are flying machines, so their controls are much like the controls of an airplane. Steering is achieved through the use of a system of rudders behind the fan, controlled by handlebars up front. Steering can also be controlled by the pilot and passenger displacing their body weight, a skill achieved through practice. Neoteric Hovertrek offers another option for steering and stopping: patented reverse thrust buckets. This is the only system available today that lets the hovercraft pilot reverse at speed, hover while stationary, and brake (a must on ice).
 

Are Neoteric hovercraft less noisy than other hovercraft?

Yes, they are. Noise is generated whenever air moves and all vehicles that consume large quantities of air create noise. Shape your lips into a small circle. Gently blow through this circle and you’ll barely hear any noise. Now insert your tongue close to the circle and you’ll hear a whistle. This is caused by the air tumbling and creating vortices which impact each other and generate a sound wave. The high velocity air flowing upstream and downstream from a hovercraft’s fan impacts the fan and its stationary blades, which generates vortices that produce noise. Vibrating structural components also contribute to hovercraft noise. Minimizing the number of vortices and the amount of vibration will result in less noise.  


Does a hovercraft float?

Yes. The Neoteric Hovertrek hull utilizes composite construction with US Coast Guard certified closed cell 2 lbs/cu. ft. (32 Kg/cu. meter) density BASF polyurethane foam. A total of 17 cu. ft. (0.48 cu. meters) of foam provides over 1,000 lbs. [454Kg] of positive buoyancy. In addition, the cockpit area affords an additional 1,000 lbs. [454Kg] of floatation. When totally swamped with water, the hovercraft remains floating and stable. 
 

Do I need a license to pilot a hovercraft?

No. Hovercraft come under U.S. Coast Guard jurisdiction. When you buy a hovercraft, you will be assigned a Coast Guard hull identification number (HIN). These numbers are free and, if you decide to purchase a partially assembled Hovertrek, your number will be provided by Neoteric. Using this number, you then register your vehicle as a boat. Some states may require an ATV license as well. Overseas customers should consult your local hoverclub or marine authority.


Do I need to register a hovercraft?

In the U.S., a hovercraft must be registered as a boat and in some states also as an off-road vehicle.


How can I meet other hovercraft owners? How can I find out about hovercraft racing and other hovercraft events?

You can join the Hoverclub of America for a nominal annual fee. The Hoverclub sends out newsletters informing members of races and other activities. Check out their website click here.