We have provided a comprehensive guide to learning to operate a hovercraft. While this guide is not intended for use with all hovercraft, it will provide and insight into the best procedures and practices for successfully learning to operate most air cushion vehicles.
Most homebuilders elect to train themselves to operate their own craft. Follow the instructional information below for best results. Individualized training is available through Universal Hovercraft either in your craft or ours. Please contact us for details.
Before we begin:
Maneuvering on land
Operating on Ice
Operating Over Water
Turning (slow speed): Slow speed turns allow the most precise maneuverability. Turns should be planned as far in advance as possible. Entrance speed into a turn should be between 11 - 30 mph. Higher speed turns will use a larger radius while slower turns can be accomplished in a very small area. In this example the entrance speed is 15 mph IAS. Enter the turn above plane speed. Adjust lift fan RPM to a low lift setting. Apply pressure on the joystick to achieve the desired turn angle. After the turn has begun apply slight pressure in the opposite direction to stop rotation. Continue the turn by adjusting the throttle and rudder position to keep the craft on course. The goal is to complete a controlled turn with the least amount of water spray possible. Achieving this requires careful coordination between trim, throttle position and lift fan rpm.
Turning (high speed): Higher speed turns (30+ mph) will use a large turning radius. Turns should be planned as far in advance as possible. Apply slight pressure on the handlebars to achieve the desired turn angle. After the turn has begun apply slight pressure in the opposite direction to stop rotation (at higher speeds this may not be necessary). Continue the turn by adjusting the throttle and rudder position to keep the craft on course. The goal is to complete a controlled turn. Achieving this requires careful coordination between trim, throttle position and lift fan rpm.
Draining the skirt: It takes a very short period of time (2-5 minutes) for the skirt to begin filing with water. Water in the skirt must be evacuated through the rear skirt drain hole before accelerating to speed. Excess water in the skirt will increase drag, wear and could result in damage if not properly drained. The amount of water in the skirt will dictate the length of the draining procedure. Typically it takes between 20 seconds and two minutes to completely drain the skirt.
Stopping: Hovercraft have very little friction when traveling over most surfaces. Reducing power will help to slow forward momentum. Typically this will not be enough to slow or stop the craft in a short distance. There are four methods of slowing or stopping over any terrain: 1) Side slide method: In this method the craft is steered from side to side while maintaining the direction of travel. Turning the craft from side to side increases the air drag on the craft helping to quickly decelerate. 2) 180 reverse stop method: In this method the craft is quickly turned from its forward coarse 180 degrees in the opposite direction of travel. Partial or full thrust can be applied causing rapid deceleration. (WARNING: This method should not be used over sticky mud terrain) This maneuver should not be performed over 35 mph IAS. 3) Plow / Ditching method: This method should only be used while the craft is aimed within 15 degrees of its straight line course.Ã‚ In this method the operator reduces power allowing the crafts plow plane or landing skids to come into contact with the surface. Contact will increase drag resulting in a controlled deceleration. The operator can vary the degree of deceleration by coordinating lift fan RPM and position of the elevator. 4) Combination method: In this method the pilot will use a combination of the above maneuvers to successfully slow the craft.
Stopping or landing on a slope: Pin point landing on sloped surfaces takes practice. Begin by: 1)Approach the intended landing site like it is an aircraft runway. Line the craft up with the landing site as far away as possible 2) Approach the landing site taking into consideration wind direction, wind velocity, current and grade of the slope 3)Keep the craft on a "straight in"Â approach path. Adjust speed accordingly taking onto account the grade of the slope and the intended landing site. Typical approach speed is just above plane speed (6-9 mph). 4)The crafts momentum will carry it a certain distance up the hill. Apply additional thrust if necessary 5)Try to carry just enough momentum to climb the slope and not overshoot the intended landing site. 6) Apply thrust to hold the craft in position while lowering the lift rpm. Reduce lift RPM to idle, then reduce thrust RPm to idle.
Piloting a Hovercraft
Piloting a Hovercraft
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