Prototype Flight

Earliest Amphibious Flight Model

Sir Christopher began his experimental work with the ‘sidewall’ hovercraft concept in 1953 with the object of ‘making boats go faster’. By 1956 this had given way to the first amphibious flight model, he said that it made a noise like a full size outboard motor. In fact it used a 5cc semi-diesel engine intended for model aircraft.

The picture (left) by James Airy, shows the model presently on display at the  Science Museum in South Kensington at London. The dimensions Sir Christopher gave in his notes are two feet six inches (760 mm) long by one foot six inches (450mm) wide and weighing  four pounds eight ounces (2 kg).


 An Early Test Flight

From June 1956 onwards many flight tests were carried out in secrecy at Somerleyton Hall. Some of this work was recorded on cine film and a short clip can be activated by moving the cursor over the box to the right. It will repeat five times, it can be restarted by moving the cursor again.

These flights fit into a historical time slot three years after the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the East Coast Floods in 1953 and one year before the end of Food Rationing in 1957!

Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 will normally display the cine clip in the box above right. Check settings by going to – Tools/Internet Options/Security, press Custom level button, spool down until until you see Display video and animation etc. and enable. If the box fills with solid black when the page is loaded it indicates that it is ready to play and can be started with the mouse cursor. It will also run in a media player if you double click on this link:- cca2.wmv. If you have to use this method, move back to the Hovercraft Memorial page while it is playing and imagine yourself there in 1957!

From this small prototype a new industry grew and by addressing the specific requirements of operators across the world, Griffon Hovercraft Ltd have exported to forty countries; see Griffon-RNLI page.

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