Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Floating on Air

Today's History Lesson

Throughout history, man has been intent on improving upon ideas of moving machines for purposes of transport. One of the most successful inventions of the 20th century emerged as a result of some very unusual testing.

This Day in History: May 31, 1959


Christopher Cockerell with the
proper hovercraft model
made in 1955 from balsa wood
(Source: Hovercraft Consultants Ltd)

The principle behind today's hovercraft was first demonstrated by Sir Christopher Cockerell in 1955 using an empty KiteKat cat food tin inside a coffee tin, an air blower (some sources cite a hairdryer) and a pair of kitchen scales. The first manned hovercraft flight took place on May 31, 1959 with the seven-ton SR.N1 developed by John Cockerell making its first test flight. It was capable of a speed of 60 knots.

The concept behind the hovercraft actually began centuries ago being traced back to the early 1700's, and ideas for flying machines date back to ancient Greece. Cockerel's idea allowed a vehicle to move over water's surface, floating on a layer of air, thus, reducing friction between the vehicle and the water.


World's first full-size hovercraft.
The prototype SR-N1 was used for research and development
(Source: Science & Society Picture Library)

For an extensive history of the hovercraft, click the links below.

1700 – 1900: The Genesis of Air Cushion Vehicles
1900 – 1950: The Evolution of Air Cushion Vehicles
1950 – 1964: The Birth of the Air Cushion Vehicle/Hovercraft Industry

An Illustrated History of the Hovercraft

The money Cockerell received for his hovercraft patent didn't cover his development costs. As with so many inventors and creative individuals, he remained bitter with lack of compensation and capitalization of such an inventive idea. It is interesting to note the US naval hovercraft is still in use today.
 A U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion,
an example of a military hovercraft
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

You haven't seen a hovercraft, until you've seen the Zubr-class, a class of air-cushioned landing craft of Soviet design that's currently the world's largest. It's designed to sealift landing assault units (such as marines or tanks) from equipped/non-equipped vessels to non-equipped shore, as well as transport and plant mines. Read MORE...
Have you ever had your sunbathing interrupted at the beach by the landing of a hovercraft? It happens!