Photo : Peter McIntosh
Building Hovercraft an Uplifting Experience
By Katrina Meggett
What is yellow, blows air and does not touch the ground?
The original plans said the vehicle could exceed 100kmh over water on a good day, but Mr Shieffelbien estimated his machine, called AIR4CE1 (Air Force 1), could do about 120kmh.
“I’ve done 60 kmh over Waihola. But it should do twice that.”
Mr Shieffelbien had not pushed the hovercraft to its maximum speed as he was a “little nervous” to exceed 60 kmh at this learner stage.
Driving the hovercraft was “certainly a different experience”, as it did not have brakes or reverse capability and body movement was used to help drive the craft, Mr Shieffelbien said.
But a hovercraft? Why?
“It’s a mixture of working on cars all day. I don’t want to work on cars after 5pm. I like working with my hands and a hovercraft is unique. I’m doing something that other people don’t do.
“Anybody can paint up cars and put mags on. Not everybody makes a hovercraft and makes it work.”
Mr Shieffelbien’s wife, Stacey, said her husband had been obsessed.
“It’s his baby. The amount of time spent on it is astronomical.”
Mr Shieffelbien agreed he did not have much of a life during the construction process.
But, despite the time put in, Mrs Shieffelbien thought the hovercraft was “great”.
“I learned a lot. Larry did most of it himself, I helped where I could. I learned how to use a rivet.”
And now, with one hovercraft down, Mr Shieffelbien said it was time to start a new project.
Maybe a microlight.
Or, “I might end up doing something else different, like a trike like Billy Connolly’s.”
The following article was courtesy of The News - Alexandra - Central Otago - New Zealand 17th August 2006