06 December, 2018

#TBT: World’s First Hovercraft Race

For #ThrowbackThursday, let’s go back to March 14, 1964 when Chris Fitzgerald, Neoteric’s future founder and president, participated in the World’s First Hovercraft Race in Canberra, Australia ...
The Age Newspaper, 14 March 1964: This hovercraft will take part in the world’s first hovercraft race over Lake Burley Griffin today. In the cockpit, Edward Thomas;
from left, Ron Davies, Christopher Fitzgerald and Robert Wilson.
The race was a remarkable success. It drew more than 30,000 spectators and received extensive media coverage. London’s Flight International magazine reported: "March 14, 1964, may become a famous date in ACV history, for on that day, at Canberra, the world's first competitive hovercraft trials took place. An analogy may be drawn between the Canberra trials of 1964 and the Rheims air meeting of 1909: both mark the beginning of competitive development in their respective fields.”

Watch a video filmed during the race ...

In a 2001 article, journalist Eric Shackle related Neoteric’s evolution since the World’s First Hovercraft Race  ...
Melbourne Entrant’s Success Story

One of the entrants in the World's First Hovercraft Race, Australian Air Cushion Vehicle Development, vigorously pursued its interest in hovercraft, transferred to the US, and is now one of the world's leading manufacturers of the craft: Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc.

In 1964, the company competed in the first world hovercraft race. As experience mounted, the Rotary International Foundation awarded AACVD's president, Chris Fitzgerald, a scholarship for a world hovercraft study tour which resulted in contact with virtually every hovercraft project in existence.

Innovations continued and, by 1973, a prototype hovercraft, the Neova, was completed and AACVD formed a new company, Neoteric Engineering Affiliates Pty. Ltd., which created staggering world interest when it introduced the Neova at a press demonstration in July, 1974 in Melbourne, Australia. All were anticipating a promising future for this curious new flying machine.

Hoping to sell their technology to the burgeoning recreational vehicle market in the United States, the engineering team made what was intended to be a temporary move to the USA in 1975. After a short time, however, they discovered that there was a virgin market for the manufacturing of hovercraft and began reorienting their company's focus in that direction. This spurred the spin-off company, Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc.

Today, Neoteric boasts a clientele that spans 50 countries and includes Disney World, local and national [and international] rescue departments, dive teams, gold mines, environmental and fishery research departments at universities, oil-spill clean-up, the US Army Corps of Engineers and, of course, numerous people who enjoy exploring remote areas that cannot be reached by any other means.

They've come a long way since taking part in that historic 1964 race on Lake Burley Griffin!