The Hovercraft is something of a rare beast. This story examines the many engineers and scientists who contributed to the development of a vehicle that is lifted on a cushion of air and is capable of travelling over land, water, mud, ice, tarmac, sand and many other flattish surfaces.


The Swedish scientist Emanuel Swedenborg is known to have sketched the first hovercraft design in 1714.

Dagobert Müller von Thomamühl’s Luftkissengleitboot, a surface effect boat.


How a hovercraft functions.


Ford’s efforts at hovering cars.


The L1 hovering tank.


Charles Fletcher’s Glidemobile.


Cockerell’s hovercraft patent.


Sir Christopher Sydney Cockerell.







The US Navy LCAC.


The Soviet Zubr class ACV, the biggest in the world weighing in at 555 tons.



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to those in the Public Domain, Technical Museum Vienna, Messer Woland, the Ford Motor Company, Ad Meskens, GB Patent Office, The National Archives UK, USN, Andrew Berridge and Mil.Ru (LightZone).