Human Powered Hovercraft :: Steam Boat Willy

human powered hovercraft


Showing posts from 2007.

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What else do we do ?

Seeing this site, you may get the impression that we are all complete human
powered hovercraft maniacs with no other interests.
This is far from the truth.
Martin Pfeiffer is currently involved with development work on a vehicle
aimed at cutting pollution and enabling more efficient urban transport.
Simon Ward is the proud owner of a pogofoil. Describable as a hydrofoil
vehicle powered by the vertical oscillation of its occupant or alternatively
as the craziest way of getting across the water yet.
Chris Roper is being consulted on the construction of a novel human powered
aircraft. The aim of the project being to bring this activity within the
reach of those other than athletes and millionaires.
And Ethan George has just returned from Tenerife where he has been with a
bunch of guys kayaking alongside and riding on dolphins.
But, despite these distractions, our relatively routine and mundane
activity of hovering by human leg power alone continues.
On 10th November 2007, we made what we reckon is our final tests with the
new skirt extensions. These included replacing some of the existing fingers
with fingers of a different design. Then we hovered and saw the effect.
Working in a museum, we are on view to the public. On one occasion, a group
of visitors were particularly keen to see our craft hover. We were at the
stage where we had taken off the old finger but not replaced it with the new
one, but we didn't want to disapoint them so we had a go anyway. Simon
managed to get it airborne with one finger missing.
The new design fingers seem to be performing well. So, now we will take the
complete skirt off, and replace them all.

Posted on [12th Nov 2007]


Report in THE INDEPENDENT Saturday 8th Sept 2007

Page 15 of this UK national shows a striking colour picture by Roger Bamber.
The new finger extensions to the skirt really working properly for the first time,
after our recent adjusments. You can see daylight right through underneath.

Posted on [9th Sep 2007]


HoverShow 2007

Chris Roper reports :
We went. We hovered.
During this two-day show, we hovered indoors, we hovered outdoors, we hovered on the sea and we hovered on a paddling pool. We had our allotted pitch in one of the hangars and for most of the time we were giving demonstrations to the show-goers. Every time there was a new lot of people we showed that hovering, by pedal-power alone, is possible. Getting "up on cushion" on SBW is as much a knack as an effort. I would climb in, and say
"Look one pedal stroke to fill the bag with air, then one, two, three four pedal-strokes to be up hovering", talking and pedalling at the same time. Trying to show off how effortless it is. Its about the same effort as climbing a flight of stairs. After I had been doing it all day, I began to feel it in my legs.
Ethan George, ( See Wednesday's News ) was able to delight the onlookers on four occasions during the show by again climbing aboard and becoming my passenger. This is a tricky operation since SBW is strictly a single-seater. I have to balance the craft and he has to balance himself. It had all been planned very thoroughly with the help of his father, Terry George, one of the show organisers.
On the second day, the conditions of wind and tide seemed fair enough for us to try a sea-trip. This was the first time on water at all with the new fingers, and we did it with crowds watching. We have given ourselves a Mickey Mouse name and we are always ready to be laughed at if anything goes wrong. From the sea-front it looked as if everything went right. Simon launched off the beach, went out onto the Solent, did a turn and hovered back up onto the beach - like hovercraft do. But everything hadn't gone right. They didn`t see that we lost a propeller tip and that many of the fingers got ripped as we beached onto the sharp shingle. So, back to the hangar, and we took the propeller off ready to be shipped to the workshop to be repaired, and Simon quickly did some makeshift patching to the fingers so that we could do some more indoor hovers.
One of the other features of the Show was a shallow pool for model hovercraft organised by Larry Hodgson. Yes, we hovered on that too.
The visitors to the Show all seemed amazed that one could hover just by pedalling. Not least a one-time pilot of the cross-channel SRN4 craft. We would have liked to give him the opportunity to pedal SBW. As it was, we did everything we had planned, and more. An eventful couple of days.
Watch this site for where you can see us next.
Maybe next years HoverShow, Lee-on-the-Solent.

Posted on [9th Sep 2007]


Passenger aboard Steam Boat Willy

From the Daedalus slipway, Ethan George, aged 6, became the first passenger of a human powered hovercraft today. Chris Roper, aged 70, was pilot,(and engine). There is only one seat on SBW, and young Ethan had to perch on the central frame, keep very still and hang onto Chris's shoulders. A couple of days ago when the idea was first mooted and Ethan was being told that he would need to practice balancing on a narrow plank at home, he pointed to the hovercraft and said "I want to practice on that".
This afternnon, at 3pm, Ethan's father, Terry George, helped young Ethan aboard.
Chris pedalled slightly harder than usual and fast enough to lift the two of them. The craft withstood the extra weight and the fan managed to produce enough lift air, and up and away she hovered.
The flight was witnessed by Warwick Jacobs of the Hovercraft Museum Trust.
Chris said later "I nearly decided to cancel the 'service' because of high winds, then I thought 'Let's go for it !'"
Later Warwick himself hovered. ( No, Chris didn't carry Warwick, he had to do his own pedalling ! ).
Watch this site for pictures, soon, of the passenger flight.

Posted on [4th Sep 2007]


Malcolm Airborne

More adjusting and testing at Lee on Solent. After some work on the skirt
extension fingers, on Monday, we were honoured to be able give Malcolm
Whapshott, authority on human powered flight, the opportunity to become
airborne under his own leg power in the hovercraft. Malcolm has a different
physique from Alexi for whom the craft was designed, and so the fore and aft
balance was all wrong on his first attempt. The bow lifted but not the stern.
Chris said to Malcolm "You're not the first person to not do it on
your first attempt, but you're not going to be the first to not manage it at
all. Lean forward, and pedal just a little harder." Malcolm did just that
and the craft lifted into a steady hover. One more human hovercraft engine.
Malcolm weighs 86 Kg, is fifty and hasn't cycled for quite a while.
Adjustments and practice continue, preparing for the Show on Sept 8 and 9.

Posted on [27th Aug 2007]


Testing Continues

Testing of our hovercraft with the new extended skirt is continuing.
I feel that, for the first time, I can dare to call it an "improved skirt".
The lurking fear was that we might have made it worse.
There was some damage to the fingers after our test on Tuesday when we hovered over a gravel surface in a gusty wind. These are being repaired. On Saturday 25th Aug we hope to have it outside again, but we will keep off the gravel.
The Hovercraft Show is on Sept 8th and 9th and we want it to be in peak condition to put on a good demonstration.

Posted on [22nd Aug 2007]


Fingers move forward

We adjusted the vents, and did one or two other adjustments, then tested it
inside the hangar. It seemed to ride better, and it was easier to pedal.
Josh pedalled off the ground with it, the first time for him.
We think we have the vents right now.
So we put the propeller on and took it outside. There was a lot of wind blowing off the sea, but we went ahead anyway.
We found it a much livelier beast than before. It moves forward and can be manoeuvered even in those gusty conditions. Steering and even some reverse motion all Ok.

Posted on [21st Aug 2007]


Fingers Test

On 5th August 2007, we first tested the craft with fingers. We were delighted that it lifted and the fingers filled out well to the expected shape. Pilots found it different and we are still getting used to it. Don't know quite why yet. Same old story. Is it me or is it it ?

We will try adjusting the vents to the fingers, and see what difference that makes to how it hovers.

Watch video of the fingers test here...

Posted on [4th Aug 2007]


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