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Hovercraft to re-blaze the Lewis & Clark Trail

The media and the public are invited to discover hovercraft:
Hovercraft rides and giveaways on the Lewis & Clark Trail

May 12, 2004

On May 14, 2004, for the first time in history, three teams of explorers will follow in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark … by hovercraft.

Led by Bill Zang and Bob Windt of Illinois and Don Bender of Michigan the hovercrafters will launch from the same departure site as the pioneer explorers - Hartford, Illinois - and blaze the same trail up the Missouri River to Yankton, South Dakota in three hovercraft named Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea.

These modern day explorers have a greater goal than just commemorating the Lewis & Clark bicentennial: to raise awareness of the importance of hovercraft as a vehicle that can operate on almost any terrain, and to introduce DiscoverHover, a new international school hovercraft program.

The hovercraft expedition will depart on May 14 from the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers near Hartford during the National Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Signature Event. The bicentennial celebration will also feature historical exhibits and the launch of replica Lewis & Clark boats.

As they journey upriver, the hovercrafters will offer hovercraft rides, give away model hovercraft, and invite the public to join them at their campsites.

DiscoverHover: the international school hovercraft program

DiscoverHover is the World Hovercraft Organization's international not-for-profit program whose mission is to give students worldwide the educational opportunities afforded by building a hovercraft and competing in established hovercraft races.

The DiscoverHover web site, www.DiscoverHover.org, provides free hovercraft blueprints and instructions to schools, universities, youth organizations and students age 7 to 21. The site also gives students and instructors free access to an extensive hovercraft information center, a free e-mail newsletter, an advisory board of some of the world's top hovercraft experts. The Lewis & Clark Hovercraft Expedition's team leaders Bill Zang and Bob Windt both serve on the DiscoverHover advisory board.

"We want to interest young people in DiscoverHover, an important project that makes math, science, physics and technology easy and fun for both students and instructors," says Zang, who is President of Universal Hovercraft of Harvard, Illinois, the supplier of the hovercraft materials kits provided through the DiscoverHover program.

Chris Fitzgerald, Chairman of DiscoverHover, explains the program's importance: "DiscoverHover has proven to be a remarkable learn-by-doing experience that gets students excited about engineering and technology and helps secure the future of an extremely valuable emerging technology. Hovercraft save lives in rescue operations; transport military troops; ferry passengers; and provide a vast array of recreational opportunities to people throughout the world."

Meet the trailblazers and ride in a hovercraft

The hovercraft expedition will proceed from Hartford, Illinois upriver for more than 700 miles to Yankton, South Dakota. At each stop along their journey, the teams will offer hovercraft rides to the public in return for a minimum $30 donation to the DiscoverHover program, and will give local students the chance to win hovercraft model kits.

The media and the public are invited to join the hovercrafters at the following locations/dates. For exact times and locations, check the expedition's daily progress report on the Universal Hovercraft web site www.hovercraft.com

Fri. May 14: Hartford, IL and Hermann, MO
- Hovercraft will be displayed in Hartford at the Festival Grounds, National Trail Site #1, Booth #19.
- Launch ceremony at 4:00 p.m.
- Expedition will camp overnight at Hermann, MO, mile 98

Sat. May 15: Booneville and Parkville, MO
- Refueling stop mid-morning at Booneville, MO, mile 197
- Next stop Parkville, MO, mile 377
- Continue on and camp overnight on river

Sun. May 16: Bellevue, Nebraska / Big Sioux River
- Refueling stop mid-morning at Bellevue, NE, mile 600
OR Big Sioux River, mile 734

Mon. May 17: Gavis Point Dam, Yankton, South Dakota

Tues. May 18: Return trip; details to be announced

The adventurers

Bob Windt of Cordova, Illinois, formerly an aeronautical engineer at McDonnell Douglass, is the founder of Universal Hovercraft. The Learning Channel's Junkyard Wars considers Windt to be "the godfather of personal hovercraft." Windt designed the DiscoverHover entry-level hovercraft. He also designed the world's fastest hovercraft and holds the Guinness Hovercraft World Speed Record of 85.376 mph (137.40 km/h) established in Portugal in 1995.

Bill Zang of Harvard, Illinois is President of Universal Hovercraft, provider of DiscoverHover's free hovercraft plans. Involved with hovercraft since childhood, he achieved his first racing win in the fifth grade, placing 3rd in the 1989 World Hovercraft Championship. Now an accomplished international hovercraft racer; his most recent win was 2003 Formula 1 National Champion.

Don Bender of Middleville, Michigan is an expert machinist, auto body refinisher and hovercraft designer/builder. A former snowmobile racer, and member of the pit crew for Wally Dallenbach on the Indy racecar circuit, he now works full time designing and constructing custom hovercraft.

Mike Kiester of Duncan, Oklahoma is a commercial aircraft pilot and a hovercrafter since 1975. He was the founding Secretary/Editor of the Hoverclub of America, Inc. in 1976, Hovercrafter of the Year in 1984, and currently serves as the organization's national cruise director. In 1979 he served on the crew of the longest unsupported hovercraft trip to date, a round trip from St. Louis to New Orleans. He is also co-holder with Bob Windt of the New Orleans to St. Louis hovercraft speed record set in 1986.


Media Contacts:

To arrange en route interviews, contact:

BILL ZANG, expedition leader
Cell: 815-509-4335

DON SMALL, Universal Hovercraft
Ofc: 815-943-1200

MARQUIS SONGER, Universal Hovercraft
Cell: 812-208-8470

For more information about DiscoverHover, email marketing@worldhovercraft.org

All Material © 2003-2004 World Hovercraft Organization