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!


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Spring Special!

added by emma on March 19, 2014 at 11:25










Mercier-Jones Hovercraft - I'm calling you out!

added by emma on March 18, 2014 at 07:21



The hovercraft community is pretty small, and the industry manufacturing them even smaller. So it's been very frustrating to watch the hype surrounding the Mercier-Jones hovercraft which has been created in Chicago and has secured so many column inches of newsprint over the last year or two.

It's fair to say, it looks very striking, and the manufacturers have clearly spent their money on the design, styling and marketing, which has landed them huge amounts of coverage in the media. Mercier-Jones  modestly claim the aesthetic inspiration of high end sports cars like Bugatti Veyrons & Audi R8's and make some incredible claims as to its performance and how their product will revolutionise an 'old-fashioned' industry. This is 'the future of personal transportation' apparently and it's amazing new system of steering paves the way for a 'street- legal' version… oh please, its vectored thrust, it's not new, it doesn’t work and the day will never come when one of these things drives legally down the road in a civilized country.

They claim 'hybrid technology' - Ah! All those batteries will explain why - at 400kgs plus - it's far too heavy for its size, leading to an unrealistic skirt pressure which means, it quite simply cannot work - these guys might be geniuses for all I know, but they can’t defeat physics.   

My hobby - away from building recreational and small commercial hovercraft - is racing them. I race in Formula 2 - my craft weighs half what the Mercier-Jones does, and has three times the horsepower. I reckon its good for 60mph. You should see what the 200kg Formula 1's can do with their 200bhp engines.  Take a look here and you'll get the idea!

I doubt the bespoke, lightweight 200bhp hovercraft in this video are achieving much above 70mph, yet the Mercier Jones is faster than these apparently! "With top speeds estimated at over 80 MPH and acceleration that will rival it’s supercar cousins, Mercier-Jones hopes to handily beat the hovercraft land-speed record this summer of 56.25 mph and go after the water-speed record of 86.5 mph." It's rather like claiming your Dacia Duster will lap Spa Francochamps faster than Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.

Unfortunately, Mercier-Jones aren’t the first company to flood the hovercraft market with ridiculous claims  The industry seems to have attracted lots of bullsh****rs over the years. They tend to come and go, usually leaving an investor or two considerably poorer.  But I have to say, this is certainly the most far-fetched, unrealistic  and misleading set of claims I've seen in my 30 years involvement with hovercraft. I'm sure their intentions are honest and this is a huge misunderstanding on my behalf.  

One of the outrageous claims that Mercier-Jones make is that their hovercraft works.

And that's an outrageous claim because….  it doesn’t! Look here for their test video….

There it is in a pond on the end of a rope (maybe that’s what they mean when they claim it's fly-by-wire?) in a big ball of spray hovering no more than one inch off the ground!  It's a fair way from this to their 87mph ambitions, that hovercraft does not produce a thrust ratio "which is slightly better than the supersonic B-2 Stealth Spirit" I've got to ask, what exactly are they celebrating at the end? That nobody drowned?

They claim the first craft will be delivered in May 2014, really? Who would witness this and splash out $75,000 on something which obviously doesn’t work? I've only ever seen one real one on film - everything else has been computer generated images.

You may well have picked up on the fact that I'm angry about this and may ask why. Well, it's not jealousy, (though I wouldn’t mind my company getting 1/10th the press coverage they've managed!) but I know just how much damage the Mercier Jones may cause the industry with their high profile shenanigans.  As secretary of the 'Hovercraft Manufacturers Association' (HMA) I'm very keen to mature and develop this nascent industry. Together with our some of our members, I've spent two years dealing with the UK Authorities to develop a new 'Hovercraft Code of Practice' and we're constantly lobbying government organisations and commercial operators who've had bad experiences with small hovercraft - and are firmly of the opinion that they simply don’t work. The Mercier Jones is simply going to further that opinion - negatively impacting on honest manufacturers and operators who are trying to develop their own businesses.

What I don’t know is what the aim of this whole project is - they've already attracted some funding from the IndieGoGo website - is the ambition to attract more, whilst they draw a decent wage? The problem is that plenty of people are excited by the idea of a hovercraft (when I finally invent a hoverboard, I'll be richer than Bill Gates) and I've seen some rather naïve investors and overexcited buyers jump in without first checking their facts.

One thing's for sure, the Mercier Jones doesn't work - yet they claim they’re taking orders. And that worries me.

Michael Mercier, Chris Jones - I'm calling you out to protect my industry and the sport I love. My company manufactures and sells over 100 of those 'old fashioned' hovercraft each year, and I'm happy to take on any dynamic challenge you can come up with. Flying Fish hovercraft steer accurately, hover a foot above the ground, do 40mph and work with up to four people on board - you can see them on the internet cruising  on rivers and the sea, beaches, ice, snow, sand, mud and estuaries. Can you provide a single piece of evidence that any of your claims are justified?

Because, if your company is ever going to achieve  100 hovercraft sales a year, one thing is pretty important.

They need to work.




Last week on the Medway & Swale. Eight Flying Fish hovercraft on a 40 mile cruise.

added by emma on March 17, 2014 at 09:43

First organised cruise of the year from the Swale, exploring Queenborough, Stoke Marshes, Isle of Grain Tower, Upnor, Deadmans Island etc. Fantastic time - 8 hovercraft attended the event - all Flying Fish Marlins and Coastal-Pro's - and we covered around 35-40 miles, returning safely at Sunset.

There's events thoughout the year, including cruises on the Mersey and the Solent, the Dover Regatta, mid-week Isle of Thanet cruise - and even an overnight stay on one of the Napoleonic Forts in the Medway!

If you'd like to find out more, contact for dates and information.




Happy St.Patricks Day!

added by emma on March 17, 2014 at 05:46

A pretty substantial road-trip last weekend, saw this Volantis Extreme III delivered to Cork in Southern Ireland - just in time for St Patricks Day (and some 6 Nations celebrations...grumble grumble!)

Fully specified with a 50bhp Rampage, LED lighting, complimenting chrome kit and two-tone metal-flake coachwork..,. this is a colour scheme we've never done before and will soon be seen exploring the southern coast of the Emerald Isle!







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!


Last of the Marlin II's reduced in Price! Only £8000.00 inc VAT

added by emma on February 25, 2014 at 11:54

Two Marlin III hovercraft off to Finland

added by emma on February 21, 2014 at 06:44

The Mark III's are selling well - and these two Arctic spec craft were loaded yesterday and off to Finland, sold by our dealer RAF Hovercraft at the Helsinki Boat Show.

With a further, bespoke, Coastal-Pro sale made to the emergency services and over twenty demos lined up, it was a very successful show indeed.

I have to say - the 'Starsky & Hutch' styling of the red and white one is by far my favourite Mark III so far! Now we're considering some 'classic' colour scehemes for future models - Gold Leaf Lotus maybe? John Player Special? Lancia Martini? Golf Porsche? A-Team van? Del-Boys Robin?

The possibilities are endless! Laughing






How tough is a Flying Fish Hovercraft?

added by emma on February 18, 2014 at 08:48

One of the challenges of manufacturing hovercraft is that they can travel over pretty much any surface you may wish them to. So, customers can fly small hovercraft along at 40 mph on water, before flying straight over a stony beach without stopping. No other vehicle can do that! Hovercraft  of all sizes owe more to aircraft construction than that of a boat or land vehicle and this means they have to be built as lightly as possible, whilst retaining enough strength to be safe and practical. Quite simply, if a hovercraft is built too heavy, it won't work safely or well on either land or water so weight is a factor and hulls built with extra strength in the areas which take the knocks and bangs of daily usage. 

This requirement dictates that small hovercraft must be built from composites such as GRP (fibreglass), Kevlar or carbon fibre type materials. Wood or aluminium makes for an ugly design, and is crude, heavy and not commercially viable. Plastics such as HDPE weigh twice as much as GRP, and no hovercraft can work properly if it's 100% overweight (the clue is that the 'HD' in 'HDPE' stands for 'High Density' - ie heavy!)

Fibreglass remains the material of choice for small hovercraft production. It's light, can be laid up in attractive shapes and has a fantastic finish quality. It's strong for its weight, is impervious to salt-water, dirt and mud easily washes off the high gloss finish. Whilst somewhat labour intensive, fibreglass is a cost effective material which allows us to keep the price down to an affordable level. It's preferantial to carbon fibre for this application - as it doesn't 'shatter' in the way carbon fibre does if it takes an impact. The new Marlin III takes the concept even further with a 25mm foam core in the floor which adds stiffness and impact resistance.

However, hovercraft - as stated above - can be used in many and varied environments. So we incorporate a 'core' material within the hull to further strengthen the hovercraft, together with Kevlar (the same stuff they make bullet proof vests from!) However, crashing the craft down onto rocks, hurling it into 10ft deep gullies, thrashing it at 100% throttle everywhere - all these are unrealistic expectations of a lightweight vehicle. They'll shorten the life of the hull and show up premature wear  - in some cases, excessively hard use will invalidate the warranty. It is absolutely imperative that the servicing requirements are followed and that the craft are 'pre-flight' checked each time they are used. It's all there in the user guide that we supply with our craft. In the last year, we've calculated that misuse or brutally hard use were a factor in 75% of all warranty claims, closely followed by poor or neglected servicing. We've made, sold and used over 600 Marlins and there's not much we haven't seen! Flying Fish craft have been improved year on year and when used and maintained properly, give very little trouble.

We're always very fair in our administration of warranty claims and are always willing to help, advise and replace any parts which fail. However,  no other vehicle can take you - theoretically at least - anywhere. A hovercraft can, but cannot ignore the laws of physics! We don't limit where you can use your hovercraft - whereas motor manufactures exclude damage from off-road usage of any type - but expect owners to look after their craft without relying on our warranty to put right damage and misuse.  Building an effective small hovercraft is full of challenges and we believe that overall, the Flying Fish range achieve more of them than any other make. 

Hopefully, this sets out our design philosophy and explains a little about why looking after your craft is so important in order to enjoy trouble-free and enjoyable ownership!

Here we are again? Still no hovercraft presence in UK flood relief efforts....

added by emma on February 12, 2014 at 07:25

Yet again, parts of Britain find themselves underwater.

  • Environment Agency has urged people to stay away from the sea and rivers because they risk being killed 
  • Almost 300 flood alerts and warnings in England and Wales, with torrential rain expected to batter South first
  • Met Office warns rain could give way to ice and snow as bitterly cold Arctic air brings freezing temperatures
  • Third death last night as 47-year-old man's mobility scooter falls into river in Oxford off flooded pathway
  • The Met Office has issued a rare red warning for gusts of up to 100mph in west Wales and north-west England.
  • There are sixteen severe flood warnings in Berkshire, Surrey and Somerset.
Yet again, Flying Fish have sent numerous emails and letters and offers of help - to the RNLI, to Somerset Council, to COBRA, to the head of the environment agency Paul Leinster. We've even gone as far as contacting the offices of the Home Secretary and Prime Minister to offer our services in the flood relief efforts on the River Thames  and Somerset Levels. We've sent literally dozens of emails and not had a single response, just one or two replies fobbing us off!

Now I know these are busy folks but really - if ever the hovercraft was to prove its worth, these flood conditions are what they were designed for. Able to easily travel over any depth of water, irrespective of the gate/log/sunken car/road sign inches below the surface - hovercraft are safer, faster and more use in flood conditions than any other vehicle. When we get enquiries from people wanting to buy hovercraft for a purpose better suited to a boat, I've always advised them to use a boat... hovercraft aren't 'magic' - they do have their limitations and in many environments, there are other amphibious vehicles that may be more suitable (who didn't love the 'Quadski' seen this week on Top Gear for instance!)

But this isn't one - this is hovercraft territory! To not exploit a great British invention at a time like this is madness. 

In Australia in 2010, we helped out the SES (State Emergency Services) and they were 'wowed' by the capabilities of our small hovercraft (their own boat has caught its propeller on that gate post on Day One... result - no more boat!) and we ran round with medics, delivered insulin and provided transport through some terribly demanding conditions. It was an eye opener and our offer of help is made with that knowledge.

Look at this... What's more sensible, safer and quicker....




Or this? (Australia 2010)



So, come on folks - we have two craft equipped, on standby with experienced pilots - , ready to assist in flood relief operations.

All we need is your call!

Our numbers (01304) 619820 and we're awaiting your call.






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