How does a Hovercraft work

How does a Hovercraft work

Hovercraft Design

Hovercraft have been around now for over 50 years, but sadly many people have yet to experience a ride on a hovercraft – one question we get asked a lot is – how does a hovercraft work?

how does a hovercraft work
how does a hovercraft work

There are different designs, some hovercraft have 2 engines, but to simplify the operation, reduce weight, the Hov Pod has one engine which drives a fan assembly to generate air.

This air is split into two channels, one that forces air under the hovercraft to escape in a controlled way through 65 skirt sections.

75% of the air is directed out the back of the hovercraft through the duct to create the thrust that propels the hovercraft forward.

So the air generated by the fans both lift and propel the hovercraft forward.

Providing lift

Hovercraft float on a cushion of air, and raise the hovercraft about 9 inches above any flat surface – so a hovercraft can travel over flat ground or water, over ice, snow, sand, mud etc. This ability allows hovercraft to be very useful for rescues situations to help people and animals to escape from floods, mud and ice. Hovercraft do not have a propeller like a boat, so they do not get affected by under water obstacles like rocks, coral, sea mammals etc.

Generating thrust

Thrust propels the hovercraft forward

75% of the air in the Hov Pod Hovercraft provides forward motion. The air is forced out the back of the hovercraft. The fans rotate at about 2000 revolutions per minute; ‘airflow straighteners’ correct the spinning air to direct it out and improve the thrust output. The air passes over two rudders controlled by the pilot  – to turn right, he moves the handlebars to the right, and this moves the rudders to the right to propel the hovercraft forwards, and to the right.

As hovercraft ride on a cushion of air, the ride is very comfortable – you float on the air. Some hovercraft have a tendency to nose dive on water, so the Hov Pod is designed to prevent this characteristic – known as ploughing. There are 4 types of skirt sections, A, B, C and D. Each type of skirt has a different design to manage how the air escapes, to prevent ploughing.

To travel over ground, both the hovercraft and the hovercraft skirts have to be very tough, but as hovercraft are weight sensitive, some are made from thin lightweight materials such as glass fibre, and do not last so long. The Hov Pod is manufactured from HDPE, a type of plastic, or carbon fibre – both these materials are very strong yet lightweight.

For more information visit our sister website at