Part Hovercraft, Part Ekranoplan... And Part Subaru

The problem with most airplanes is they require pilot's licenses and the problem with most hovercrafts is they can't float high enough to clear obstacles. Rudy Heeman solves both with the flying hovercraft. You will need a boat license.

The converted hovercraft can fly for up to 140 miles at 55 MPH and works best at about a 5-foot altitude since it operates in wing in ground effect just like an Ekranoplan. It's capable of carrying two people and power comes courtesy of a 1.8-liter Subaru boxer engine.


WIG or Ground Effect Vehicles take advantage of a cushion of air that exists between the wings of a low flying aircraft and a smooth surface such as water or a beach within a distance approximate to the wingspan. This vehicle's wingspan is about 23-feet, which is also about it's maximum altitude. Heeman has gotten his machine up to about 60 MPH.

Unlike other GEVs, Heeman's adds all the advantages of a hovercraft, meaning it has the ability to hover over land or water. It also floats, a crucial safety aid if the contraption suffers mechanical failure in flight. A Heeman-invented "thrust diverter" converts the hovercraft's lift to thrust to enable flight.

The wings are a removable lightweight ribs and cloth design similar to those of WWII aircraft. Without them, the vehicle functions as a standard hovercraft.

Heeman spent 11 years building the flying hovercraft, but recently sold it at auction for a little less than $20,000. He also sells DVDs with plans enabling you to build an identical design.

Heeman's put about 150 hours of flight time on the flying hovercraft, but was less confident on its maiden voyage in 2007. He planned that experimental flight on a body of water adjacent to a hospital in case of mishaps. [via AVWeb]


Leeeeena the Jalopchick

I thought a "thrust diverter" was dad knocking at the door with a shotgun. Doesn't sound like that would be very effective for this.