New Zealand inventor creates flying hovercraft, invention for flying
The ultimate in big boys' toys - a hovercraft that flies - has been put up for sale on an internet auction website by its New Zealand inventor.
Rudy Heeman, who lives in the South Island city of Nelson, requisitioned a gas bottle from the family barbecue, parts from his wife's car, and the control lever from his daughter's motor scooter for his creation.
Looking like a conventional hovercraft but with the addition of detachable wings, the vehicle cruises at 56mph when flying, has a range of more than 140 miles, and reaches a height of about 10 feet.
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It is powered by a 1.8-litre engine.
On the www.trademe.co.nz auction website the sale has already received more than 100,000 hits, has shot past the reserve price of NZ$20,000 (£9,300), and has attracted a long string of questions from viewers.
Mr Heeman, who has been building hovercrafts as a hobby in his back yard for more than 13 years, said this is his first flying model.
He says on the website: "It has been called all sorts of things, including aircraft, aeroplane, hovercraft and flying boat.
"It is in fact a WIG [a wing in ground effect] in the form of a hovercraft
"This machine is fast and furious, it roars like a lion and is not for the faint-hearted. It is adrenalin-pumping and exciting.
"Having a go on it is like a bungee jump, however, the thrill lasts as long as the ride."
Mr Heeman said he thought farmers could make good use of his invention.
"You can land in a paddock and you wouldn't have to worry about opening and closing the gates. You just go over them."
The lightweight, canvas-covered wings are attached to the craft with what he calls a "Jesus pin".
"If that comes out, you see Jesus," he said.
Because the hovercraft is not classed as an aircraft under New Zealand aviation laws, the operator does not require a pilot's licence.
It has taken Mr Heeman, a mechanic, 800 hours to build his invention and he has clocked up more than 75 hours' flying time in it.
He said he was selling the craft because he needs the funds to get started on more "secret projects".
By Paul Chapman in Wellington
Published: 1:24AM GMT 03 Mar 2010
posted on 08-03-2010