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Past Meeting

Bill Baker - The Art of Floating on Air

Hovercraft racing We were delighted to welcome Bill Baker, who closed out this years events with an excellent talk about the amazing world of the Hovercraft.

Bill is a commercial builder of hovercraft (and racing hovercraft) so is more than well qualified to give us an insight into the history and future of these craft.

Bill built his first operational hovercraft in 1973. His company supplies the growing demand for hovercraft of a similar design to those raced by him in the then infant British hovercraft racing series.
Hovercraft on water
As well as their racing hovercraft designs, it is the use of their larger hovercraft used over all forms of terrain which gives them most satisfaction.

There are many areas where no other vehicle could do the job as efficiently.
Hovercraft on broken ice
Bill's talk covered:
History of the hovercraft
Evolution: different types
Principles of operation
Future: use of ground effect?

Bill Baker

Having finished my apprenticeship with Browitts MF dealers in Coventry, Bill shot through to OZ where he worked with a firm involved in agricultural machinery mainly involved with horticulture and viniculture. Being a small firm of twenty people in an irrigation area of NSW, they also got involved in fitting air conditioners to domestic and industrial buildings.

He was still in touch with a college mate, who was involved with the start up of the Hover Club of GB, originally started by workers from Saunders Roe, Denny's etc, and who were trying to make use of Chris Cockerells's Hovercraft related Patents for Military government use.

Working with air conditioning information it was natural that they got together on Bill's return to the UK to build a hovering wardrobe - and the rest as they say is history.

He came back to the UK to run a small garage in Adderbury for his step father which he did till the hovercraft business became self supporting.

Always a bit of a bower bird collecting rubbish (one mans rubbish etc), and now retired, he says that it's time to catch up on various projects - but to quote John Lennon Life sort of gets in the way a lot of the time.


Hovercraft Schematic
1. Propellers
2. Air
3. Fan
4. Flexible skirt
The word "hovercraft" was probably coined by a newspaper, or even by Christopher Cockerell himself, to try to capture the essence of the vehicle. The more accurate modern description is "air-cushioned vehicle".

After forty plus years of almost continuous development the ability to build from scratch, a successful hovercraft still relies on common sense, to the extent that a successful hovercraft is the sum of its parts. A good hull, skirt or power unit will only be effective if they are connected to other components that can make use of each other's good qualities.

Today, hovercraft are used for transport, surveying, pollution monitoring, etc, around the world.

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