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Historic Videos

A look at some historic hovercraft from the 60's on. From Paul Esterle's collection

Photos from a cold winter rally on the Mississippi River in Cordova , IL (Bob Windt's place). From Paul Esterle's collection

Video was shot by a crew making a show about different cities in Ohio that share names with other (famous) cities worldwide. It aired on PBS channels in Ohio, approx. 2003.

This is the only known video of the UH-26S cruise from Cordova, IL to New Orleans and back. We traveled 2744 miles in three weeks. This video was shot in Quincy, IL. and included Bob Windt, Terry Chapman, and Dean Pollee. We picked up Mike Kiester in St. Louis. Note how close we came to hitting the wall behind the craft on our exit! Inches! 

This is the earliest video of my hovercraft. This is the 2nd one I ever built. The first one (a UH-6) was not filmed or photographed. It is a UH-11S powered by a Rockwell JLO 295 snowmobile engine. It weighed in at a whopping 620 lbs (was supposed to be 185 lbs). Later revised down to about 350 lbs. We called it the 3/8 bolt because almost every bolt on it was 3/8. I still have the shroud from this craft in my shop. I was 15 when this video was shot.

I don't know who made this but it is pretty funny! Footage is from the 1989 World Hovercraft Championships in Troy, OH. Let's go, let's go!

From the early 1980s, this commercial was made using Neoteric Neova IIs in southern California.

UH-13S interview in 1978. Video was made shortly after I completed the UH-13S. The craft was powered by a fan cooled 440cc Chapparal snowmobile engine. I purchased the engine from Windcraft M&M- makers of the Hurricane hovercraft in Toledo. It is the same engine that powered thier early machines. The craft used the Universal Hovercraft auto-lift system that drove a driveshaft through the cockpit to a gerbox in the lift duct. I recall that this craft worked pretty good!

The commentator is Ross Sully of Canada. It shows my crash in an F1 race in Troy, OH in 1990. I was trying to take a different line up the transition from the river when it caught air and cartwheeled. It doesn't look like a big deal, but replay it in slow motion and you'll see it differently. When the nose hit, the handlebar grip came off and I was a rag doll into the lift engine. I tore off the gas tank with my face (and I was wearing a full face helmet too.) The result: 70 stitches in my upper lip (clean cut up to my nose), 20 stitches in my tongue (split like a snake); knocked out my front tooth, and a hole in my leg. At first I was dazed and was concerned about getting hit by the craft behind me, but blood went everywhere when I stood up and I thought "forget the hovercraft"!

Back in the 1980s there used to be a regional TV show called "PM Magazine." They did a story on Bob Windt and Universal Hovercraft. Also in the video is Ray Churchill and Nick Sandquist. Recorded approx 1986.

Dean Pollee's last hovercraft race - Troy, OH 1987. He has been a cruiser ever since! Also starring: Don Bender, Ralph Germer, Chris Barczinski Sr., Carmen Chapman.

After working 3rd shift the night before, we filmed this on the Maumee River in Toledo, OH. My college roommate Steve Klein and I built this craft in 10 days over spring Break in 1982 (Thanks Steve!) This craft had 8hp for lift and 50hp for thrust. It worked great and won the 1983 U.S. National Championship. Unfortunately, the craft did not last long because it was stored outside and got dry rot.

The Badger GP was a craft of my own design based on my previous experience with UH style hovercraft. I built it in 1989 and used it most of the 1990s as a cruiser and racer. Here I was helping with a rescue. One guy drowned. The media calls it a hydrofoil hovercraft! 

The first clip (0:00 - 0:25) is one of two experimental vehicles built by Princeton University in America during the early 1960s under a contract with the U.S Army. The second clip (0:26 - 2:08) was produced in July 1959 by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. The original vehicle used in the film is now on display at Fort Eustis Transportation Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, VA. Its model name is the Curtiss-Wright Model 2500.

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