Hovercraft might not have caught on big with the public, yet. But who wouldn’t want to glide around across ice, water, highways, and fields in the ultimate low-level flying machine? Well, if you have the money and the construction skills, you can order a kit from Universal Hovercraft, Rockford, Ill., and build one yourself. And the company will sell you one ready to hover out of the box if you lack the time or expertise to put one together.
The company’s Entry Level Hovercraft, the UH-10F, for example, carries one person (who must weigh less than 250 lb) and can hover along at 35 mph. The 170-lb craft is powered by an 8-to-15-hp horizontal-shaft motor. Foam and plywood construction keep the 10-ft-long, 5-ft-wide vehicle light as it hovers about 8 in. off the ground. According to the company, assembly should take 40 to 100 hr. There are various options for buying the kit. Plans only cost about $30, while a bundled package of the hull, hardware, engine, and drive kits cost another $1,500, but they can be purchased separately.
Slightly higher up on the list is the UH-14P Super Sportsman, which can carry up to four people (850 lb) at a top speed of 57 mph. This unsinkable craft uses a single vertical-shaft lawnmower engine to power the thrust prop and lift fan via a belt drive. Like other hovercraft, it has only two basic controls, throttle and steering. The 500-lb Sportsman measures a little over 6.5-ft wide and 14.5-ft long. The company estimates is should take about 150 hr to build this kit. Plans go for $40, and a bundled package goes for $2,500.
The company sells other kits, as well as fully assembled hovercraft.