hear many sad stories from people who have purchased hovercraft from
other suppliers, only to discover the hard way, what works well, and
what doesn’t. We have created this simple guide to advise customers
what to consider because, cheaper craft are often sold at greater
Small hovercraft can be classified as race craft, kit-build or
1. Race craft focus on speed
2. Self-build focus on low cost
3. Leisure craft focus on safety and reliability
Buyers should consider:
Cost versus Performance, Safety and Reliability.
For Race craft, speed is the key objective, so weight is reduced
wherever possible. For example, to reduce weight, craft have very thin
GRP, so safety can be compromised. Race craft are often designed for
land rather than use on sea. Thin GRP is needed for racing but not in
leisure use as any impact causes expensive damage. Safety features
such as the fan cage may restrict airflow, so safety is often
compromised by speed. So the Hov Pod is designed for safety rather
Self-build folk favour the low cost approach; this often can affect
quality, safety and performance. People spend considerable hours
building hovercraft, (200 to 400 hours) only to experience major
disappointment on the first outing. The Hov Pod has taken years of
development to eliminate the pitfalls associated with hovercraft
design and manufacture. That said, some people love a challenge, and
are happy to spend hundreds of hours creating their own craft. But at
what cost? Too much work and not enough play can make Jack a dull boy!
The third type of craft appeals to people who just want to have fun.
Leisure hovercraft demand safety, reliability, and ease of use. The
Hov Pod may not be the fastest craft in town, but we do like our
customers to have fun in safety. We don’t scrimp on quality either.
Check out the build quality and many benefits such as stainless steel
fittings to combat salt-water use, or the high spec electrical
components, for trouble free operation. Not all leisure craft are the
same. Some manufacturers sell new hovercraft with second-hand engines,
purchased from a local salvage yard. Or craft that dig the nose into
water and stop suddenly with dire consequences. Craft that do not
contain enough buoyancy and sink! Craft that don’t restart on water (a
paddle could be useful) One-piece skirts that cost megabucks to
repair. Hulls that crack and let in water, craft you can’t steer
without throwing your weight violently into the corners!
Engine type The Hov Pod uses highly reliable high power-to-weight
Rotax engines proven by many years use in the snowmobile and
microlight industries. They are located under a uniquely designed
engine cover system that offers excellent protection from the elements
yet is very quick and easy to remove (approx 15 seconds). The Hov Pod
engines have been put through their paces for hundreds of hours in
very harsh marine conditions in climates such as Africa, The
Caribbean, and the Middle East. The engines are fitted with Rotax
intake silencer and exhaust mufflers to give excellent noise
reduction. When choosing an engine we picked the Rotax engine for its
great pedigree and power-to-weight performance but also because the
only other options were ‘used’ automobile engines or small commercial
engines that need to be re-tuned and upgraded to generate sufficient
power and therefore are prone to long term failure and overstressing
One engine or two? Many hovercraft use two engines, one for thrust,
one for lift. Hov Pods have only one engine for lift and thrust;
reason being that it is easier and far safer to coordinate one set of
controls, easier to service one engine, plus you get less noise from
one engine. Thrust engines are often placed in front of the driver -
yuck, all those fumes and noise coming at you, and the first wave that
hits you may swamp the engine, causing lift failure. We deliberately
designed the Hov Pod without a gearbox assembly, this allows us to
site the engine much lower in the craft, providing lower centre of
gravity, reducing the tendency to roll (we have even seen other craft
literally roll over in a simple low speed turn), and providing much
greater ease of control. We also place the engine low down to ensure
no airflow disturbance to the fan; clear airflow results in greater
efficiency. Of course we only use new engines, whereas many new
hovercraft have been sold with reconditioned engines
Stopping on land. Hovercraft should be considered as land-based
vehicles as well as water-based; stopping on a small rock shouldn’t
cause the floor to crack, since cracks let-in water. Most hovercraft
have a single skin or thin and weak double skin floor, whereas the Hov
Pod has a thick double skin floor, between which runs a stiff marine
grade buoyancy layer for greater safety and strength. We add Kevlar
(as used in bullet proof applications) and aluminum runners and impact
sheets to protect the craft from the inevitable knocks that
Stopping on water? During demonstrations, a number of customers have
panicked when we stop the Hov Pod on water, because other
manufacturers have told them to avoid doing this! Many hovercraft have
a problem with starting on water, and you will sometimes hear the
expression "getting over the hump", that describes the problem in
getting back up onto the cushion of air to start moving again. The Hov
Pod is designed to lift a payload of 250 kilos (HP52) or 310 Kilos
(HP65) on water starts. Other craft also have a very severe tendency
to spin and throw occupants when stopped quickly on water; the Hov Pod
has been designed to quickly yet safely and smoothly stop in a
controlled straight line.
Buoyancy. Many hovercraft have poor buoyancy characteristics and can
actually sink if swamped, whereas the Hov Pod has full buoyancy
sandwiched between a rigid, double skin floor. Not only will the Hov
Pod stop quite happily on water but it has also been independently
tested for flooded buoyancy approval. Buying a professional designed
and manufactured craft helps to overcome regulatory restrictions,
where they apply.
Skirts! Occasionally, hovercraft skirts may get damaged so you need to
know how to replace a skirt, and how difficult the job will be. The
Hov Pod has 65 different segments, (for damage limitation) so rather
than having to replace the whole skirt if damaged, at great cost, you
just replace the damaged segment. Naturally you will wish to go
exploring with your hovercraft, but need to get home safely, so having
a few spare skirt segments handy is a good idea, only takes a minute
to change each segment; far easier than trying to recover a hovercraft
with a damaged one-piece skirt. Hov Pods use a Hypalon/Nylon material
(as used on all RIB’s) for excellent wear, UV and salt-water
protection. The Hov pod in tests has operated with up to 25% of the
skirts missing. The careful design of the skirts also means that in
normal use the Hov Pod generates virtually no spray and the drive and
passenger can stay virtually dry.
Hov Pods are designed to withstand accidents when they occur,
protected by an aluminum plus rubber bumper strip to minimize damage
to the craft. Vehicles not fitted with bumper bars suffer far greater
damage during impact, reason why autos have them fitted as standard.
Very few hovercraft have such protection, despite the fact that
cracked GRP damage can be difficult and quite costly to repair. We
also fit aluminum and Kevlar impact sheets, and aluminum runners on
the underside of the Hov Pod for durability whilst coming to rest on
firm ground. The design approach to incorporate a thick and rigid
double skin hull and extensive impact protection is important because
we have seen other craft where the hull has literally fallen apart
after hitting a wave or taking a very minor knock.
‘Ploughing in’ is a term to describe a problem where a hovercraft
suddenly stops, due to the nose of the craft dipping into water - as
anyone knows, sudden stopping or deceleration will cause passengers
and driver to part company with a vehicle, so we have designed the Hov
Pod to overcome this problem. The Hov Pod has never ploughed in,
though we continue to hear of incidents where other hovercraft have
suffered this problem, sometimes with quite serious consequences.
Transporting the Hov Pod. The Hov Pod can be supplied with a fully
galvanized custom designed trailer made by an approved trailer
manufacturer. For safety this trailer is designed for single person
operation. Many cheaper trailers are available but require either two
three or four people to back breakingly lift the craft off and on the
trailer. The Hov Pod trailer utilizes 4 rubber coated rollers (to
protect the hull and stop that annoying banging when trailering) and a
simple winch mechanism to gently unload or reload the Hov Pod in about
Good safety design is no accident; extensive development has gone into
designing the Hov Pod. Safety is a very important aspect of design for
the leisure market, and our designers have considered many factors not
found on other craft. For example, we fit a front and rear guard to
the fan assembly - who in their right mind wouldn’t?
(Actually, the majority of hovercraft manufacturers don’t)
Consider sealed batteries and ventilated fuel tanks for example. Or
ease of use, the Hov Pod only needs fingertip control, no need to
shift your weight to turn corners! Again the Hov Pod has gone through
a full governmental certification.
Other Considerations Check craft quality, is the craft constructed of
GRP, has GRP chop strand mat been used or as in the construction of
the Hov Pod, quad axial mat? A whack with a mallet shouldn’t offend.
GRP when new nearly always looks great but if not made by experts in a
controlled environment it will soon suffer from many hidden problems.
Ask to see an older model to check the quality of the GRP, which can
crack and delaminate after 6 months. An immaculate looking craft on
day one can, after 6 months, can look very forlorn. GRP repairs are
costly. Does the craft have a really solid bumper protection system?
Can you give the impact areas on the side and bottom of the craft good
hard whacks with a mallet? Can you sit on the side quite happily
without breaking it?
Ease of use. On Water - can the craft be used in the conditions you
intend to use? On water, sit on the side, climb in, climb out, will it
topple over? Does it plough in? Will it float? What weight can it lift
in on water-starts? Has any government provided safety certification?
Do an emergency stop; can you keep control? Does the craft travel in a
straight line? Do you have to throw your weight when cornering? Many
craft will not turn unless you move your weight to the side of the
craft? Is driving instinctive to use, with handlebars and throttle?
Many craft incorporate complex joysticks and elevator controls and/or
reversing mechanisms but our design philosophy was to keep it as
simple as possible for operators to use the craft. By paying
particular attention to the design, operation, feel and responsiveness
of the Hov Pod, these extra controls are not needed. In terms of
maneuvering the Hov Pod it can be used to undertake long graceful
turns or make tight turns in confined waterways or marinas. The
balance and set up of the Hov Pod means that you can turn it on the
spot on both land and water?
We have deliberately focused on product quality, and to understand our
marketing approach, please read the Hov Pod Design
Value for money. Stretching the dollar, pound or euro is important for
everyone, but so too is value for money, no one wants to spend
thousands on a vehicle that is unsafe or difficult to repair.
Hov Pods are extremely easy to drive, similar to a motorcycle, and
fantastic fun. In demonstrations, we can usually hand over the
controls to a person after 15 minutes tuition. Hov Pods were
specifically designed for marine leisure and commercial use, and have
many features that you will not find on other hovercraft. Hov Pods are
designed to be easy to use, easy to service, safe to operate,
reliable, durable and fun. We hope you will soon arrange a demo so
that we can show you the superior features of the Hov Pod so that you
can see for yourself, why it remains probably the best leisure
hovercraft available anywhere in the world today.
Contact us via our Contact Page
specifications are subject to change without notice.
All prices are excluding local taxes and are Ex Works.
Hov Pod is a trademark of Reaction International Ltd.
All Text and Images are Copyright© Reaction International Ltd.
Do you want one of these?
and check out what we have to offer you.