« Reply #1 on: Feb 18, 2012, 7:01 pm »
What sorts of craft are there?

There are several craft types, and a discussion on this subject is well worthwhile.

Race Craft

Most race craft that come up for sale can be recognised as such because they are small and have two stroke engines. Obviously we are into Cruising, so leave these to the racing guys.

Cruising Craft

It is fair to say, not too many good cruising craft come up for sale, so you may need to be patient to find a good one.

It is absolutely vital to have good advice when buying a cruiser, there are excellent craft out there, and some poor craft, but you just couldn’t tell one from the other without some inside knowledge. A dodgy cruiser could turn out to be a dangerous liability that leaves you stranded at sea, making a mayday call.

There are several types of craft in common use today. A knowledge of these is vital if you are to choose a craft that will not disappoint you.

Integrated Craft
This is the simplest type of craft – most craft that come up for sale are integrated. They are simple, cheap and easy to fly.

In this design there is one engine and one fan. A portion of the fan air is directed under the craft to provide lift, whilst the rest is directed for thrust.
The integrated design is a compromise – the requirements of a lift fan are the opposite of the requirements of a thrust fan. This makes the craft inefficient and noisy when compared to a more modern twin fan or twin engine design.

Integrated craft with more than about 35hp installed may be very noisy and should be avoided.  Most modern craft designs have two fans, with either one or two engines.

Twin fan craft

The twin fan craft uses a small fan to provide the lift air to the cushion, and a large fan or aircraft propeller to provide thrust air, with or without a duct. The fans will be powered from a single engine via an arrangement of belts or gearboxes. Typically these are larger craft, although there are successful small craft of this type.

The advantage of this arrangement is that each fan can be properly designed to achieve its function, and therefore are more efficient and quieter then integrated craft. A twin fan craft will be easy to fly.

Twin engine

The twin engine is similar to the twin fan, except that each fan has its own engine. The transmission is simpler than the twin fan type, but there are now two engines to maintain.

The twin engine design provides independent control of lift, which is useful in some circumstances.

Challenger Homebuilt

A large number of these homebuilt craft come up for sale, often as neglected or unfinished projects. They can be bought for a few hundred pounds, but they are not suited to cruising. Avoid them.

The challenger can be recognised by the flat (usually plywood) deck, small thrust duct and segmented skirt. They usually have a small 2 stroke motorbike engine.

Many people build these craft as projects and have a great time doing so, but the performance of the craft will be limited and they are not suitable for cruising use.


This was proposed as a hybrid racer/cruiser. You can race these in the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain series, but if we’re honest they are not really suitable as a cruiser. The compromise is just too great, and we would not normally recommend them for cruising use – although they can be OK at selected venues.


« Last Edit: Oct 31, 2017, 8:22 pm by Ian Brooks »
Ian Brooks
Gloucester, UK