What to expect
Hovercrafts use large fans to blow air downwards, creating a cushion of air to float on. A ’skirt’ surrounding the craft stops too much air from escaping. They can be as small as one-person crafts, or as big as commercial passenger ferries. They’re also used by the military and for rescue aid missions. In Scouts, hovercrafts can take people over land or inland water.
Some providers may have age limits, so make sure you check before planning it into your programme.
What you’ll learn
Driving a hovercraft is a great way to push your limits and try something new. The controls can look simple, but there’s a lot of skill involved in making the craft move where you want it to – it’s OK if it takes a bit of practise. It’s up to you (and the people leading the activity) whether it’s just for fun or whether you race.
- The first hovercraft was designed in the 1700s, but it couldn’t be built because the technology didn’t exist. Powerful modern engines came along in the 1950s, so people could bring the idea to life!
- You may know that Sir Christopher Cockerell, best known as the inventor of the hovercraft, tested his theory with a vacuum cleaner and two tin cans. You probably won’t know that the cans were from cat food and coffee!
- Take a change of clothes. Hovercrafts can glide over land and water – they often spray water high into the air, so it’s likely that you’ll get wet. You might want to put on your waterproofs, especially if it’s raining.
- Wear long trousers. Hovercraft pilots often kneel down so they can lean as leaning can help them control the craft. Long trousers will help protect your legs and knees, especially if you’ve got a sturdy pair.
- Grab some extra hair bobbles. You’ll need to tie back long hair (and any loose clothing) so it doesn’t get in the way. Take a few extra hair ties, just in case anyone forgets.
You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
- Check the weather forecast
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
The activity leader must have an adventurous activities permit with the right level and permissions for your group.
Where the group is entirely members over the age of 18 the permit scheme does not apply, please follow the rule 9.8 adult groups.
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
- The centre/instructor should hold one of these:
- Hovercraft Club of Great Britain (HCGB) - on land: HCGB Cruising Licence Level 1 or on water: HCGB Crusing Licence Level 3
The provider must have public liability insurance.
This activity’s all about trying new things. How did people feel before they arrived? What about when they saw the hovercraft, or watched someone else drive? Some people may have felt excited, others may have been nervous, and lots of people probably felt a mix of both. Was the experience exactly like people expected? What makes it easier to try new things? People may think about supportive friends, doing some research before they arrive, or having the chance to ask any questions.
This activity also needed people to be courageous. It takes a lot of courage to try something new, especially when it’s tricky (or loud!). How did people feel when they got onto the craft? Did people have to take a deep breath and go for it to when they took over control? How did it feel when they were the ones in the driving seat? Well done to everyone who was brave or faced a fear! When else might people want to do something that scares them?
- Hovercrafting can often be adapted so more people can give it a go. Many outdoor centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. There are lots of different kinds of hovercrafts, and plenty of different courses to drive them on, so get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group – make sure you give them plenty of notice.
- Hovercrafts can be noisy, so make sure people know what to expect. If anyone struggles with loud noise, chat to your provider to find out what you can change.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.