A Sydney mechanic almost lost a finger and suffered head injuries when a hovercraft engine he was working on suddenly whirred into life.

The 60-year-old was tinkering with the engine at Wedderburn Airport, southwest of Sydney, on Friday morning when its seven-blade propeller began spinning.

The force of the impact on the man’s head and hands caused four of the blades to snap off, the Ambulance Service of NSW said.

“The propeller has started spinning, striking his head and hands,” NSW Ambulance acting inspector Aaron Casey said.

“He had injuries to his forehead and lacerations to both hands.

“He also had a partially amputated index finger.”





Last year in New Zealand, a doctor was killed outright when his home built hovercrafts propeller came loose and struck his head.

Now this! A man working on an engine on the bench miraculously ‘suddenly whirred into life’  (which let’s face it – is impossible…there’s more to this story than we’re currently being told) and was struck by the propeller resulting in serious head injuries.

And yet again, the hovercraft in question is a homebuild.

In no way am I against the principle of building hovercraft at home but it can be so dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, have no practical experience of hovercraft or simply don’t take enough care or lack caution – just once. And the reason we at Flying Fish stick to using fans instead of big, heavy, high energy propellers? Because in 30 years of using hovercraft I have never heard of a single death (or even serious injury) from a fan failure… but that’s two extremely serious accidents in the last year involving propellers.  When a propeller fails, it contains an enormous amount of energy and inmost cases, unlike a fan, it’s impossible to guard safely.

This was the last one…http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10742775

This is a sad and awful accident – the question is whether any lessons will be learned from it, or whether we can expect one serious accident a year from home built hovercraft featuring dangerous propeller installations.

Everyone here at Flying Fish wishes all the best and a speedy recovery to the injured man.