Hovercraft Torture Testing - Torrential Rain, High Winds & Salt Water!

added by russ on October 7, 2014 at 08:15

What were we thinking? It was Carl's fault, he wanted to spend his birthday out on his hover. The weather forecast was for 25mph gusts and torrential rain. For once they got it right. Together with 3 Marlin II's, it was also the first time out in such terrible conditions for the new Coastal-Pro MACV.

We returned some three hours and 20 miles later very cold, and soaked through to the unmentionables - but we did prove that our craft can take pretty much anything you can throw at them!

Take a look at the video, and leave a comment/like it (if you do!)

Flying Fish Marlin III, Coastal-Pro and BBV500 hovercraft are ready for marine usage. Days like this teach you plenty and having experienced many of them over the years, we know our hovercraft perform extremely well even in the worst conditions.

The Coastal-Pro is the new 2014 3-4 Seat Hovercraft from Flying Fish which is designed for the commercial market. With Hovercraft legislation having completely changed in 2014, small hovercraft can now be used for a huge range of intertidal and shallow water applications such as water sampling, nearshore survey,Water Quality Sampling (Benthic, WFD, Plankton sampling,) Intertidal Fish Stock Monitoring (Seine and Fyke netting) Ecological Survey,Tidal Flow Monitoring,Accoustic Survey (Hydrophone) Bank Erosion Surveys, Bridge and Structural Surveys, wildlife Monitoring such as bird, seal & cetacean and habitat survey.
One day, who knows, maybe the Coastguard will finally see sense and buy some hovercraft for Mud Rescue!

 

Current Pricing 2014, ask for full pricing.

Complete Component Sets to build your own Snapper or Marlin II from £5000+VAT
Marlin Hovercraft - New - from £8750.00+VAT
Coastal-Pro from £19,950.00+VAT

Hovercraft Cruises - Date for the diary late 2014.

added by russ on October 2, 2014 at 06:38

Amongst the many 'hovercraft hats' I wear is the slightly dodgy sounding 'cruising director' for Hovercraft Club of Great Britain events.

Following last night's South East branch meeting, we've put together some dates for some late season cruises as below.

As usual - all hovercraft are welcome as long as they are reliable and safe in an uncontrolled (and demanding) marine environment. These are club events, not strictly Flying Fish ones but you'll need to join the HCGB to come along.

Saturday 4th October 2014 - Launching Gillingham Strand

Saturday 1st November - Long Reach Ski Club

Saturday 29th November - Long Reach Ski Club

Friday 26th December - Boxing Day cruise. Probabaly a 'round Thanet' keep-warm, pub-based cruise launching from Sandwich, Kent.

All dates are weather dependant - please contact me for more details of you'd like to come along.

Download the CRUISING GUIDE :    CRUISING INFORMATION.pdf (194.46 kb)

 

 

 

European Hovercraft Racing from Towcester Race Course......Grrrrr!

added by russ on September 24, 2014 at 04:18

Well, that went well. Or Not.

Having been rather too buried under customers hovercraft during 2014, I hadn't managed to get back racing this season.

My new Cobra Formula 2 hovercraft was sporting a rather sexy Rotax 453 two-stroke engine (yes, yes, I know....!) in place of the hugely powerful but too heavy GSX-R600 Suzuki 4 Stroke. Lift system was carried forward from the previous craft -a fter all, it hovers beautifully and never lets me down (A Simonini Evo2 paramotor engine, it even has the luxury of electric strart!) But as the last race meeting of the year was at my favourite track, and was a European (more/better craft and top level racing) I decided we'd finish the Cobra off and have a bit of fun.

A few frantic nights work and we were ready.

After all, we were also holding the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association AGM (The HMA - more about that later) at the same venue on the thursday before, so I kind of spotted a sneaky day-off on the friday. It all fitted (actually Friday was spent smashing posts into the ground and building the course so that bit didn't work out!) but it was nice to be there in plenty of time.

A brief test of the new Rotax 440cc engine showed it pulled like a train....it passed the float test (always a nervous time for a fat bloke like me!) so I joined the back of the grid. No practice, I wasn't ready. In the race, it was clear the engine needed some set-up, when it did pull through into the rev range and the power valves opened... it was superb! But most of the time  - it didn't!

Anyway, finished the race pretty much last but with a plan and after a bit of tinkering tried again. This improved things a bit in race 2.... until the poreviously faultless lift engine cut. Dead. Just like that.

On a pretty much blind brow.

About 5 seconds after I'd overtaken Bananaman.

The ensuing impact wasn't his fault - it was mine for stopping in a damn stupid place.

In true 'hovercraft impact' style, his craft lost a couple of segments - the back of mine was trashed. The hitter always suffer much less damage than the hitee - all he had to do was push the rudders into the path of the blades and The 110bhp contained in the blades blew apart, did some severe damage, bent the fan frame and ripped out every last flow straightener and cone. The good news is that the hull is untouched and the running gear is fine - in any case the fan frame was temporary so thats no big deal.

Oops.

The message my friends is - don't rush building things. I should have started earlier and taken my time. Of course, the engine started up straight after the race, but somethign meant it failed on the day and mor etesting - in fact any testing - would likely have found it.

But - it was a great meeting, caught up with some friends I haven't seen for a while and superb racing from a challenging but very fast course.

And just to prove that there's always someone who has a worse weekend than you....this clip is from the start of a Formula One Race. Conrad Beale rolled his craft going into the first corner and was very, very lucky not to be collected by Greg Lallemand who was right behind him. Conrad ended up in hospital for observation and brain scans (a bit of a surprise as I'd always thought Formula One Hovercarft drivers had no brains!) but was released a day later. No doubt he feels pretty second hand, and we all wish him a speedy recovery.

Thanks to Ross Hammond for some top-quality HD coverage!

Ross Hammond _ Facebook.mp4 (5.80 mb)

So - it'll soon be christmas which means May bank holidays not that far away - Best get on with mending it I guess!

We're back racing in two weeks.

added by russ on August 29, 2014 at 05:40

Well, its that time of the year again!

Our new Cobra Formula 2 Hovercraft is pretty much ready, so we're off racing at Towcester Race Course, Northampton, in two weeks time. This time, we've dropped the stupidly-powerful-but-bloody-heavy GSXR600 engine in favour of a 440cc Snowmobile Engine from a 2007 Lynx MXZ Z440. Roughly 100bhp but 32kgs... should be quick but it'll take a lot of sorting out and setting up. 

We'll also have the new Coastal-Pro there, so if you'd like tocome along and see it, you'll be very welcome.

Just to whet your appetite, here's a taster - our Cobra F2 racing from Prudhomat, France in 2013.

We now have the go ahead from the MCA - commercial operations for small hovercraft are a 'go!'

added by russ on June 20, 2014 at 09:00

After some two years of negotiations with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), we have finally been given the formal confirmation in writing - that Ultralight Hovercraft (up to 500kgs) may engage in certain commercial activity without a requirement for coding/certification.

 Not to be too crass about it - this means that using small hovercraft for paying work is now possible!

 To clarify the situation, I've bullet-pointed the situation below.

 

 Uses / Operations

Survey, inspection & maintenance.

Mud & Water Sampling

Geo-technics

Standby & Support

Security & Patrol

Weed Spraying

Nature monitoring/bird counts etc

Any application not involving paying passengers.

 

Operating Areas & Restrictions

Intertidal Areas

Estuaries and Rivers

Tidal Mudflats

Saltings & Marshes

Up to 1/2 a mile from the shore (beyond catagorised waters)

Within 3 miles of a safe haven (obviously, 80% of beaches are a safe haven in a hovercraft!)

Daylight/favourable weather.

 

Hovercraft Specification

Less than 500kgs unladen weight.

Built in compliance with the Hovercraft Code of Practice (HCoP)

Certified to be compliant by manufacturer.

Maximum of four persons (no paying passengers)

 

Operator's Qualifications

RYA Powerboat 2 or equivalent (two day course/exam)

 

Valid From

 June 19th 2014

Hovercraft Availability

The new Coastal-Pro is due for release in approximately 4 weeks and has been designed specifically for commercial applications and of course, to comply with the new HCoP.

We do still have a one off - the last of the current Coastal-Pro models available at a bargain price - so be quick if you're interested at £13,500.00+VAT!

This is a huge step forward for the industry and a fabulous opportunity for those who wish to be 'in at the beginning' and exploit the commercial opportunity it presents. There is genuinely now a viable, safe and cost effective solution to operations on mud flats, saltings, marshlands, beaches - with operating costs LOWER than equivalent conventional boats. Flying Fish have been very much at the forefront during the two years developing the HCoP and obviously we're delighted that it has finally been adopted by the MCA.

If you'd like a PDF copy of the HCoP, or wish to know more, please call or email Russ at Flying Fish.

Email :               russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk

Telephone :        01304 619820

 

 

 

 

Crushing the bad guys!

added by russ on June 18, 2014 at 09:21

 

 

#

BE CAREFUL OUT  THERE!

Looking over the information on our website recently, I realised we may be selling ourselves short. Our 'about us' page is typically wishy-washy and reads much the same as everybody else's. Time to change it I think - because be honest… I’m not sure that’s really us.

There’s no industry on earth that doesn’t contain it’s fair share of rogues, charlatans, wide-boys, dodgy-geezers and downright-thieving-bastards. Even doctors and priests get themselves locked up from time to time. And the hovercraft industry is no different to any other. In some ways, the world of hovercraft is valuable turf for fraudsters and sharp-salesman. Why? Because many people who buy hovercraft have little knowledge or experience of them and are ‘babes-in-the-woods’ when it comes to being sold to.

Two quick examples – in Australia, there’s a guy selling hovercraft who’s notorious for his (shall we say) 'sharp' practices. Three or four years back, two excited future owners of his hovercraft met at a club meeting and were describing the hovercraft they’d ordered and paid a deposit for – they’d both visited the factory over the last few weeks and seen their hovercraft in manufacture. One told the other his was black… so was the other guys….it had a Yamaha engine… so did the other guys…it was on the line being built right now and was just having its screen fitted….they’d have it in two weeks….so would the other guy.

Yup, you guessed it – they'd both been told the hovercraft they’d seen was theirs so they’d both recently paid their balances. One (or both) of them was being robbed and I can only imagine the moment when they both realised that they may have been ‘had.’ We’ve since heard two separate accounts of buyers who have had to take legal action against the same company to get deposits back for hovercraft that simply never got built. And this clown’s still in business?

 Come on Australia, grow some balls and close this idiot down!

In the UK is a company whose hovercraft truly suck. Truly, truly suck. They look great and their marketing is superb… but quite simply their hovercraft, (which is the same size as, but weighs twice as much as) the Flying Fish Marlin (itself not a lightweight racing craft by any means) cannot and does not work properly. Hovercraft aren’t magic, they can’t break the laws of physics and weight is the ultimate killer of a successful hovercraft. Yet they sell decent numbers of hovercraft - in fact they’re our closest competitor. Not one of their hovercraft have ever been seen at a UK cruising event (in fact, I’m told they ‘advise’ their customers to stay away!) as the community would probably fall around laughing if they did witness the noise/spray/20 mile range and slug-like performance from a 120bhp turbo engine(!) For ten years, we've been inviting them to come cruising, race us, offer craft up for an independent review…we're still waiting!

Ask yourself why!

Unfortunately there’s several other examples I could give such as the industry favourite, the ‘revolutionary new hovercraft’ idea – there’s one being marketed in Chicago, USA right now. Can’t work/won’t work (the only video of it in action is farcical – it’s on the end of a rope, creating a rainstorm in a pond!) but as it’s been styled to look vaguely like a Bugatti Veyron, and has no fan duct (ah, now, there’s a clue – see?) they’ve attracted a bundle of cash from naive investors and deposits from even-more-naïve buyers – the poor little lambs. But at least their $75,000.00 purchase will get them a nice looking pond ornament/garden sprinkler for the herons to shit on.

Even the government can get caught out - one UK Fire Service bought two Italian built, counterfeit copies of an US design… and guess what? They didn't work, are incredibly dangerous and basically languished in the shed for  six years - making BBC headlines when it was announced that £150,000 of taxpayers' money was wasted on them! We could have sold them two equivalent hovercraft which do work for around a third of that…

So why the rant?

Well, quite simply, our business gets damaged by the charlatans. Hovercraft manufacturing is a small industry and the problem is, when people buy a substandard hovercraft from a dubious company, what we hear is along the lines of ‘small hovercraft don’t work – I tried them.’ And that’s not fair, because if you tried the new Land Rover out and it was a dog, you wouldn’t state that '4x4’s don’t work.' We as an industry, still have some why to go to establish ourselves and the conmen and idiots do so much damage to the legitimate companies struggling to improve the image of perfectly good craft.  

So, how about that Flying Fish crowd? What do they do differently?

We get complaints occasionally – all businesses do. We’ve made silly mistakes that have been missed on the pre-delivery inspection and have been occasionally been a little late delivering. But, we do our best to sort any problems out quickly and efficiently and constantly improve what we do. We chase feedback, not avoid it, we build in reliability so that we don’t have to see your hovercraft again until its either service or upgrade time.  We don’t lie to people (I can do without the grief to be honest!) and if we don’t think a hovercraft is the best vehicle for your application, we’ll tell you. We want happy customers, an easy life and we want you singing our praises and back for more hovercraft in the future.

We have trained dealers in several overseas countries – as well as the UK. We’re formative members of the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association (HMA.) We – together with Griffon Hoverworks – pretty much wrote the 2014 MCA Hovercraft Code of Practice. We don’t take deposits for hovercraft models that we haven’t built yet. We head up cruising events for the hovercraft club (UK club members have clocked up a total of some 2000 miles at club events and private cruises in 2014 already) which constantly improves the breed. We race hovercraft which gives us enormous  amounts of information to find its way into production craft.

Above all else, we offer Money Back Guarantee – we can’t be fairer than that can we?

That’s us. That's what we do - that’s why we sell more hovercraft than any other company in the world. We aim to keep growing, both in terms of the company, and the hovercraft we manufacture.

So here’s our Top Ten Tips.

AVOIDING THE RIPOFF MERCHANTS!

1.    If you don’t know anything about them, do your research into hovercraft in general. Be sure about what they should be able to do, whether a hovercraft is what you want, how they work and join your local club. Hovercrafting is still a small (but growing) community and you can gather some very useful information and feedback.

2.    Do not pay for a hovercraft if you can’t actually see a real one exists – especially do NOT pay a deposit on a hovercraft which is only available in CGI form!

3.    Is the supplier a member of the HMA? Hovercraft Club? Chamber of Commerce? BMI?

4.    See it in action, preferably drive it, and ask to see its capabilities – as described – demonstrated. Drive more than one model before making any decisions.

5.    Ask to see videos of other – identical - craft in varied conditions (water, land, mud, one up/two up etc) and look online on Youtube specifically for the make you’re considering  – do you have plenty of confidence that WYSIWYG?

6.    Does it come with a service manual, warranty, training and registration?

7.    Does the manufacturer offer a Money Back Guarantee if the product doesn’t measure up to the  sales hype?

8.    Does the manufacturer have agents and dealers? This is a good sign that they are established and serious.

9.    Can you obtain references from dealers/customers?

10.  Ask to see photos of the build as it happens, or visit the factory. Small hovercraft should be easily completed within 4 weeks – any longer should make you nervous.

Good luck with your purchase – just be careful with your money!

Flying Fish Coastal-Pro Hovercraft

added by Emma on April 28, 2014 at 06:38

Testing out a Coastal-Pro Hovercraft which is off to Finland for a rescue organisation. Delighted with the performance - when she gets to Helsinki and our Finnish dealer RAF HOVERCRAFT , she'll receive her lights and graphics, plus all the other kit required.

 

Some of the historical 'haunts' on the River Medway.

added by Emma on March 20, 2014 at 07:14

The Medway is a spectacular river for those interested in maritime history. Last weekend, we used small hovercraft to explore some of the more interesting sites. There's still lots to see in the tidal area leading right up to Allington Lock. Check back for more updates as we explore this fascinating intertidal world!

 

View the video on  Youtube


www.flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk
0044 (0)1304 619820

Three more Minnow Hovercraft leave tomorrow!

added by Emma on March 13, 2014 at 11:52

I'm pretty sure my toys weren't this much fun when I was a lad - a hoop - and a stick if I was lucky.

Anyway, three more Minnow Hovercraft leave us tomorrow for their lucky new owners. Enjoy yourself lads!

 

WANT TO WORK IN THE HOVERCRAFT INDUSTRY?

added by Emma on January 2, 2014 at 05:38

WANT TO WORK IN THE HOVERCRAFT INDUSTRY?

WANTED : General Manager / Accounts Manager for SE Kent based manufacturing company. Flying Fish manufactures around 100 small hovercraft each year, employs 20 people and exports to a dozen countries from our factory in Sandwich. In  order to achieve consistent, targeted, production deadlines, we need an experienced full-time manager to join the management team,  overseeing all aspects of production staff management including fibreglass hull manufacture, engineering and fitting out. In addition, the manager will be required to administer company book keeping and accounts, including VAT reconciliation and filing, deal with suppliers and customers and have knowledge of Quickbooks or similar accounts software.

This role will suit a mature and experienced person with a working mechanical knowledge, a management and accounts background and the ability to motivate and organise staff.
 
Flying Fish is a small but expanding company, and this is a key role - so  you'll need to display a flexible, committed and proactive approach which can assist the management team at the highest level.

The role is 40 hours per week, plus extra hours as required in busy times and the successful candidate will start at the end of January.

For more details, please send your CV to Emma or Russ at Flying Fish Hovercraft,  via email : russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk


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