The Hovercraft was invented in 1955 by the British
engineer Christopher Cokerell. His early invention began life as a pair
of tin cans connected to a vacuum cleaner. This experiment demonstrated
that air pressure could produce enough pressure to lift a vehicle off
The Hovercraft was launched in the English Channel in 1959 and has been
used throughout the world since for commercial and military purposes.
The clear advantage of this type of vehicle is that there is very little
friction between the ground and the bottom of the Hovercraft.
The principal upon which the Hovercraft works is quite a simple one. Air
has considerable power when placed under pressure. When this air is compressed
it has the ability to drive machines. The Hovercraft uses this compressed
air to lift itself above the surface of water or ground. Two jets of sucked
in air are forced beneath the vessel. The cushion of air that is created
is surrounded by a curtain or skirt of material. The skirt holds the air
in to form a high-pressure cushion. This skirt does not drop down vertically
but is tapered in at the bottom, so that when the air reaches the ground
it fills up the space inside the circle instead of escaping outwards.
The air that is contained inside the skirt develops into a series of eddies,
whirling around and around like rollers. It continues to do this until
the pressure is so great that no more air can squeeze in. At this point
the pressure that is created is high enough to lift the vehicle off the
ground. The vehicle hovers safely on its own cushion of air.
The Hovercraft moves easily as well over all types of surfaces. It needs
no roads and is not affected by waves on the water. As the vehicle is
raised roughly 15 inches above the surface of the water or ground it is
confronted by no obstacles.