Kids take turns riding in child-sized hovercraft
20 Aug. 2002
By Peter Ciancone
Barrett said it was like floating.
The 11-year-old who attends Rio Grande Elementary
School was among the first to ride on the newest exhibit
at the Children's Science and Technology Museum of
Terre Haute: a child-sized hovercraft.
The exhibit is presented in conjunction with World
Hovercraft Week 2002, coming to Terre Haute Sept. 15-22.
Museum director Jerry Mansfield said that in addition
to the hovercraft -- made of plywood, Plexiglas, a
synthetic material used to make air bags and an electric
leaf blower -- the museum would post displays showing
the history of hovercraft technology and the concept
"They can even put their hands down while they
ride and feel the air," he said.
The simple craft is powerful enough for adults to
feel the ride on a cushion of air.
Chris Fitzgerald, chairman of the upcoming hovercraft
event and president of Neoteric Hovercraft, a Terre
Haute company that builds and sells the unique craft
all over the world, said the display was a way to introduce
children to the technology, to teach them a bit about
the physics of the craft, and to interest them in the
"It's probably one of the few chances in your
lifetime you'll have a chance to see this," he
said, of World Hovercraft Week. It will include land
and water hovercraft racing, and an additional learning
experience for older students.
James C. Wallace II will supervise a group of students
from Terre Haute North Vigo and South Vigo high schools,
West Vigo High School and Northview High School in
building a hovercraft.
"At the conclusion of four days, we'll have a
working hovercraft," he said.
Rachael Manning, 5, floated in the craft, looking
down through her feet to see what it was she was floating
on. She rode for a minute, pronounced it fun, and dashed
off to another part of the museum to test the displays.
The Children's Museum, located at 523 Wabash Ave.,
is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.