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The Hovercraft

1039 of 1160 nominations


The Hovercraft

Is this an icon?


The Hovercraft

Christopher Cockerell had a hunch. He thought it would be possible to float a vehicle above a surface on a cushion of air. It would go much faster than a boat that had to deal with the drag of the water around it. In 1955, rather in the style of a Blue Peter craft project, Cockerell tested his theory. He used a KiteKat cat-food tin inside a Lyons coffee tin, blew air through the gap between them with an industrial air blower and measured the force of the blast with a pair of kitchen scales. The jet’s pressure wasn’t yet sufficient to take passengers and their cars across the English Channel in 22 minutes, but it did prove his point. Commercial hovercrafts now, sadly, seem to have passed their heyday but they were always one of the more eccentric forms of travel. And there was nothing quite like the sight of one coming in to land, charging in off the sea with its skirt billowing like a giant pantomime dame in a hurry…

Image: TopFoto.co.uk


Your comments

an icon for sure

Warwick Jacobs

I sailed on the cross-channel hovercraft with a window seat to enjoy the view. Of course the spray blocked everything! My wife, who is Spanish, never understood my interest in hovercrafts, indeed she had never heard of them and couldn't understand why one would invent them, or build them, or use them. Then we went to the Isle of Wight to a friend's house next to Ryde and saw it. The sight of it whizzing across the sand and onto the sea had her hooked. Now she has started a business offering hovercraft rides in Scotland - www.hovercraftscotland.com A British icon that has won over a Spaniard!
Colin MacKinnon

I remember when I was at school in Peterborough,Cambridgeshire, looking out of the window, I could see the water filled pits from which clay for the local brick making industry was excavated. I saw a flash of white going backwards and forwards across the water, as soon a school was over, I cycled down to the pit as fast as I could to find out what it was. I soon learnt this was a hovercraft, this particular one being a HoverHawk from HoverAir based 6 miles up the road, and building the worlds first production small hovercraft. I soon got to know all the test crew and before long they were giving me rides in the craft, and it was fantastic, so fantastic in fact, that that was 1971 and my interest still holds firm now in 2006. By coincidence I also found out I was born on the same day the first hovercraft crossed the English Channel 25th July 1959.
Greg Briers

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My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry