We followed the path through the trees into the shooting range, across the quad bike track until it opened into a huge field – it was quiet, peaceful and beautiful to see so much space. Then suddenly we heard this huge gravelly roaring in distance – and the hovercraft makes its entrance.
First things to note with a hoover craft – is that they are super noisy, hard to manoeuvre and fast (or at least they feel that way when you in them). There is no steering wheel as such – more like bike handles. To start them – you just squeeze what confusingly seems like a bike break (but definitely isn’t) and to stop just release your grip.
Hovercrafts can travel over land, water, mud and ice using blowers through slots or holes around the outside to create a large volume that is slightly above atmospheric pressure below the hull. The pressure difference produces lift and causes the hull to effectively float.
It’s a bulky piece of equipment that takes a bit of a jump to get in. Once in you can chose to pilot standing or sitting (if you like me and can’t reach the steering wheel sitting – you will probably want to stand!)
The last word of warning the instructor shouted over the roar of the air was to stick to the short grass on the track. I looked around, focused on the track and squeezed the handles – then flew off forward down the slope into the long grass towards the trees we had just walked through.
Lesson number one: making a hovercraft turn is not easy – it’s a case of literally throwing yourself in the direction you want it to go in whilst holding the throttle down to move as fast as possible.
Lesson number two: you CAN get through long grass…it just takes a lot of determination
Piloting a hovercraft was a great experience. Although the track looked pretty basic to the eye once you are inside the hovercraft negotiating the corners and bumps it is an all-consuming experience. Your mind doesn’t have space for anything else except working with the hovercraft to get it where you want to go.
Ironically, although completely different it was not unlike archery – but instead of focusing your eye on where you want the arrow to hit you are focusing on where you want the hovercraft to go – your body positioning itself almost without thought to get you there.
And one last note … it it has been raining take a waterproof and prepare to get muddy!