On Air

Wind sock pulled rigid

What chance the hovercraft now

On its air cushion?


n.b. The hovercraft, one of the noisiest modes of transport, draws in air, blows it forcefully downward into a skirted area beneath so that the body of the vehicle is pushed upwards in flight. Large propellors are used to manoeuvre the craft as it floats a few inches above the surface. The vehicle can move quickly over water and land as there is no physical contact with the surface below.

The hovercraft can move at considerable speed (the world record is around 133 kph / 83 mph) over relatively stable, level surfaces.

There is only one commercial public transport service using hovercraft at present in the world. This operates between Ryde on the Isle of Wight and Southsea beach, by Clarence Pier. It is the quickest way to get from shore-to-shore across the Solent as a paying customer.

In strong winds the hovercraft has to cease operation as there is a danger of it being flipped, as tragically happened in 1972. The decision that day to attempt a crossing in winds gusting at Gale Force 8 cost four lives as the vessel sank, (twenty two people were rescued).

Yesterday the hovercraft was not running when I walked past. Employees from the ticket office were shovelling shingle off the concrete landing pan to prepare for better crossing conditions. The choppy sea, unsettled by the recent storm, was doing its best to dump more shingle ashore just as quickly.


CLP 11/02/2020