When Peter Ward, founder of Hov Pod Hovercraft wanted to purchase a small hovercraft for leisure use, he quickly realised that as hovercraft are weight dependent vehicles, and developers of small hovercraft are usually race fanatics, hovercraft design evolution was overlooking the leisure hovercraft market. You may have asked yourself the same question, "why are there 1.5 million Jet Skis registered in the USA alone, yet small hovercraft have never been commercially developed, after all, hovercraft are far more comfortable than a jet ski or boat, and air cushion flight allows more fun! Race hovercraft are expected to reach speeds of 75 mph - to do this, developers use ultra thin glass fibre hulls - hit a tree and your hovercraft disintegrates.
Peter developed his own hovercraft design, focusing on safety and durability. The first generation Hov Pods (ACX) were manufactured from glass fibre, but with double thickness floors coated in bullet proof Kevlar. We added shock pads, evolved different engine configurations, from introduction in 2002 until 2006. Initially, we used Hirth engines, but then switched to Rotax for better international support, quieter performance, improved power output and better documentation.
Emphasis on safety eliminated unnecessary controls, so we dispensed with trim levers, separate lift and thrust engines, gearboxes, to ensure that anyone could drive the Hov Pod without special training. OK, so the Hov Pod will not win any races, but will reach 40 mph, plenty fast enough for most people. Look at the back of most small hovercraft, and you will find no rear cage - the safety cage we fit to every Hov Pod is considered by racing designers a hindrance to air throughput. It is, but we much prefer to keep our customers and spectators safe from flying debris, should a fan break during operation. We ensure fuel and batteries are not situated in the same compartment to minimise fuel ignition; other designers overlook basic stuff. Most race hovercraft located the hot exhaust pipe around the outside of the hovercraft - any spectator could get easily burned, so we fit exhausts under a protected engine cover.
In 2006, sales were going so well, we were running into supply problems keeping up with demand, so we went to the bank, and they very kindly backed us to invest a considerable sum of money in HDPE tooling. In 2008, the new Hov Pod SPX hulls rolled out of the factory. HDPE is extremely strong and impact resistant, far stronger than glass fibre. People often ask - what happens if you stop on water, will the Hov Pod sink? Good question, many race designed hovercraft sink if you stop on water, and simply walk to the back of the hovercraft to restart the engine. The Hov Pod HDPE hull is extremely buoyant - it has been tested by various government authorities, and is able to take over one ton in weight before water ingresses into the hull - a small elephant could fly one! (with a little training)
In 2008, we rejected neoprene coated skirts, as they degrade over time when exposed to UV, and Hypalon, in favour of a very strong polyurathane / nylon woven skirt material. Tear this material an inch, after we help you cut it, and win a bottle of champagne, no one have managed to beat our challenge since the skirt material was introduced!
In 2009, we introduced the Weber 4 stroke engine. The Hov Pod SPX 120HP is Turbo charged, so is ideally suited for commercial, rescue and military patrol use. The turbo power is very impressive, and will really lift the Hov Pod out of shallow water in record time.
In 2010, we refined the HDPE hulls further by switching supplier to a UK based supplier who demonstrated a thermal controlled composite process, to make the Hov Pod hulls stronger yet lighter. All new Hov Pods sold are now manufactured using this process, so are known as Hov Pod SPX TCC models.
Latest computer aided design and computer numerically controlled robot technology is used to ensure extremely tight tolerances for engineering parts such as drive frames and gear pulley assemblies. By having a clear product objective, Peter has achieved his goal to produce a safe and extremely easy to fly hovercraft that is strong, buoyant, available in choice of colour, with choice of engines to suit leisure or commercial applications. The Hov Pod is unique, the only hovercraft available in HDPE - contact us now for further details or to arrange a test drive. Also available as bare hovercraft hull for local manufacturing and customisation.