Just a few years ago the number of companies selling small hovercraft for leisure use could be counted on the fingers of one hand, and that didn't included the thumb! Nowadays it would make more sense to list them by continent, because their numbers are spiraling upwards rapidly. The very first hovercraft were invented and also made in the UK, so it's not surprising that the country has many companies where the public can purchase a personal hovercraft. It's a bit of a futuristic dream, like buying a flying car, but of course these vehicles don't really fly at all, just hover over the surface of dry land or water.
Sanderson-Coe built the first large hovercraft, and together with Hoverspeed and Hoverlloyd, ran regular ferry services from Calais in France to Dover and Folkestone in the UK. These were big craft designed to carry cars and people, and so you can appreciate how noisy they might have been. None too comfortable, the service, popularly known as the 'vomit comet' was stopped mainly because the machines were expensive to keep running, and the operators didn't make any money (always a great reason!)
HovPod Hovercraft are made by Reaction Engineering Ltd in Folkestone and produce a range of air cushioned vehicles both for pleasure, but also search and rescue operations. The company revolutionized the industry by using new materials, such as high density expanded plastics for the hull and Kevlar for the skirts. This new style of hull meant that there was no danger of splitting if a rock was struck, for example, and the new skirt design removed the obvious expense of the need to change a damaged one piece skirt. The skirt was fitted in small sections, so that a damaged piece could be quickly changed without removing the whole assembly - Go to site .
British Hovercraft were one of the first British Companies to start manufacturing for personal use, and their first craft, dubbed the Flying Fish, made headlines when it was unveiled. Other craft, such as The Marlin followed and they quickly out together a whole range of ACVs capable of carrying from one to six peoples. To prove the sea worthiness of their products, the owner of the company was the first man to pilot a small hovercraft across the notoriously wave-ridden English Channel, making the crossing of 22 miles in just over one hour. The trip was to be repeated another three times in the next two years to prove that it wasn't a fluke and that these craft are worth every penny paid.
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