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Worlds First Flying Hovercraft

Lynnette Thomas

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win a resort -flying hovercraftNew Zealand's Rudy Heeman of Nelson, invented this Flying Hovercraft as a “wing in ground effective vehicle". He has developed a hovercraft that can fly, as well as being used as a land or water vehicle.

Developing this hovercraft in his garage took eleven years, as Heeman grabbed various parts from other vehicles, like scooters, BBQs and scrap cars.

When the hoverwing reaches the top speed of 60mph, it takes flight on extended removable wings, having started out as a regular hovercraft. The maximum altitude of this Flying Hovercraft is approximately 3 meters. With a 1.8 litre Subaru engine, it has a maximum range of 225 kilometres. It can carry only two people, or 160 kg, while flying, but in hovercraft mode the capacity rises to three people.

But this is not the first ‘boat’ of fame to be produced out of New Zealand.

Sir William Hamilton designed the first waterjet propulsion system for boats back in 1954, which allowed boats to dramatically cut the amount of draught required. In particular this permitted passenger carrying boats, for the first time, to navigate the narrow shallows of white water rivers.

Bill Hamilton's vision as a young boy was that one day there would be a boat that could carry people up the swift flowing white water rivers of New Zealand's high country.

Bill’s dream revolutionized the world of conventional boating, after building an artificial lake, for research and development, on his high country sheep station, Irishman Creek, in the Mackenzie Country of Canterbury.

These boats were involved in numerous ground-breaking operations, such as navigating the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon; Nepal; Papua New Guinea; Sun Kosi, Sepik, Zaire, Amazon and Ganges Rivers. The Hamilton Jet allowed boats to journey to places that had never been reachable before.

The Hamilton jet quickly became the boat of choice for rescue boats for flood relief and surveying, as well as recreation.

Bill Hamilton was awarded a knighthood before his death in 1978. In 1990 he was introduced into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and in 2004 was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame.


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