COMPANYAbout Neoteric & History
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 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.
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF HOVERCRAFT?
A recent Hovercraft Fan failure was not that unusual, in fact, it was rather common. A part may come loose, crack, or fall off because of not being detected during either the pre or post-flight inspection; or as the result of the craft not being inspected at all; or the person doing the inspection did not know what to look for in the first place.
Hovercraft are in the helicopter family of vehicles, but since they are inherently safer than helicopters, no regulatory organization has come forward to implement laws or regulations for hovercraft, mechanics, or pilots. This leaves safety preparedness up to the judgment of the mechanic or pilot operator.
In almost every instance, hovercraft pilots do not have the same level of training or experience as the operators of helicopters. Neoteric has been working for a solution to this disparity for many years, but the embryonic nature of the industry is not conducive to generating solutions. In such a small market, manufacturers focus on surviving through competing for sales instead of building the industry as a collective. Pilot and maintenance training is low on their list of priorities, as it is very expensive and time-consuming, costing as much as the hovercraft itself. It takes 40 hours to become a licensed helicopter pilot. At this time, Neoteric is the only company to offer a 9-hour pilot and maintenance training course, and we consider this to be a minimal requirement for safe operation and to understand all that owning a hovercraft entail.
Products built in large numbers such as automobiles, motorcycles, 4 wheelers, jet skis, and snowmobiles tend to have fewer part failures, and consequently do not require the same level of service attention that is necessary for any product which is built in small quantities like Hovercraft. Hovercraft usually operate in the worst possible conditions and usually by novices since there are few experienced hovercraft pilots in existence. Hovercraft must operate in temperatures that range between -40 and +135 degrees F. They operate in all corners of the globe and frequently in extremely remote locations. Such conditions add to the need for careful inspection, so if you haven't been trained properly, to pay attention to the details, a catastrophe may lie in wait.
Due to the nature of hovercraft, you can be thrust into potentially treacherous situations and conditions, components are always breaking, as is the case with any vehicle in extreme environs. It's very rare for things to just snap or break. There is usually a warning sign such as a loose joint, fretting, increased noise, the advent of small cracks or a bolt or nut laying on the Hovercraft floor. If such things go unobserved at their onset, they turn into a much more serious problem such as what we have experienced with the most recent Hovercraft fan failure.
Because Hovercraft are mostly driven by beginners, they are frequently colliding with objects and often the collective extent of damage can be hard to detect. A small crack can develop and goes undetected until the part fails completely. We have never seen any failure with the spinner supporting bracket in over 100 machines that we have sold. This being an unusual failure, we have taken the liberty of posting this parts failure on our website under the Service Bulletins/Maintenance Page.
When failures like this occur, our customers often claim that the incident was caused by an inferior design, deeming it to be a warranty issue. However, if this were the actual case we would long have been out of business. In fact, we strive to achieve the highest possible engineering standards, and readily advertise failures so as to educate customers about potential problems.
In this recent failure, we can only surmise that the wing nuts holding the spinner in place may have been overtightened. They may or may not have been secured with stainless steel safety wire because the nuts, the safety wire, and the aluminum tab, to which each nut was safety tied, were never found. Either one of the wingnuts alone could have caused the fan failure, especially if it became lodged between the fan blade tip and the intake bell duct as we have seen in past failures. It could have been possible that after both the wingnut tabs broke off, this allowed the spinner clamp bracket to vibrate out from under the spinner, and impact the fan. Once this happened, the fan, being plastic, disintegrated into many small pieces. The engine was reported to be running well when the fan exploded. However, when we attempted to start the engine following the craft rebuild, we could not get any ignition spark, and considerable work had to be done before this problem was found, corrected and the engine started.
In all this failure took 88 man-hours to disassemble, repair, rebuild, and test the craft. Of this, 23.7 hours were spent to get the engine running! Materials, consumables, and parts totaled $1,807.88.
Our decision to rebuild the fan intake bell saved about 10 hours of work while lowering the cost of parts. We tried to make similar decisions on other parts that were damaged such as the thrust duct and the fan. We decided it would cost less to replace the fan blades than to replace the entire fan. Wherever and whenever we have the opportunity to, without sacrificing quality or functionality, it is our policy to respect the customer's budget. Even so, the extensive work necessary to repair and make a craft functional again causes budgets to be exceeded.
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 lb/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 lb. [454Kg] of positive buoyancy. In addition, the cockpit area affords an additional 1,000 lb. [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 here.