Photo by Andrew Skudder on

Christopher Cockerell, a British mechanical engineer, was the first to make progress in the use of a ring of air for maintaining the cushion.
He and his team also developed a successful skirt and demonstrated a practical hovercraft that continued in use during the early 1950s.

Technologies used for building a boat, plane, and helicopter were gathered in one vehicle.
Like a helicopter, hovercraft use fans to gather a cushion of air underneath themselves and float along on top of it.
Like a plane, hovercraft generate thrust and move forward using propellers.

By using these engineering principles, hovercrafts stay above the water and land obstructions, which makes them magnificently amphibious.

The hovercraft can glide just as easily over water, land, or ice.
In addition, reduced friction and water resistance make it possible to reach much higher speeds than a ship.

So, if they were so great, where are those engineering marvels nowadays? Why did they disappear?

Significantly, they are not cost-effective. In spite of the fact that hovercraft effectively carried tens of millions of individuals between Britain and France for over 30 years, they in the long run stopped working following the opening of the Channel Tunnel and the entry of low-cost ferries and fast, wave-piercing catamarans

cheaper than helicopters but much more costly to preserve than ships and vessels of comparable cargo capacity. For the amount of fuel they use and the upkeep costs, combined with the need for common comforts in the mode of travel, it isn’t a feasible way of transportation in the majority of instances. And so the dream of traveling by hovercraft tragically was not feasible. They’re exceptionally loud as well, which can be an issue both for travelers and individuals living close to the ports where they operate and is certainly a downside for “covert” military operations.

See the documentary video below from Mustard for a very detailed and professionally visualized history of hovercrafts.

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