Airboats are rare in Australia, being most commonly associated with the Everglade regions of American Southern States such as Florida and Louisiana.
But the unique attributes of the airboat make it an ideal vehicle for Australian environments and the new Australian importer for the American-built Panther airboat has high expectations of the machine in the Asian marketplace.
"The Panther airboat is fully-transportable and can cope with mud flats, sandbars, very shallow water," said Hunter Capp, Sales Manager of Airboat Industries Australia.
"Because of the airboat's ability to handle varying environments such as weeds and mud, we are seeing a host of industries testing the boats with a view to using them in a host of different ways," said Capp.
"So far we've had tourism operators, rescue personnel, rice growers, pest controllers and fishermen looking at the boat and I'm sure we haven't seen an end to the diverse application we'll see it used for in Australia.
"The Panther airboat is built to meet US Government Military and US Marines standards, with a fully reinforced convex aluminium hull, and an OEM General Motors 500 cubic inch V8 motor, enabling it to take a significant payload, while reducing noise pollution it "It is both fast and reliable for rescue and search work.
"The airboat is also ideal for usage in fragile Eco-systems and waterways, and they are very economical to run.
One of the unique features of the airboat is that the motor is so powerful, and the flat-bottomed aluminium hull so durable, that it can run on land, and hence doesn't need a loading ramp. "You just drive it on and off the trailer," said Capp. "The only thing you need to be very sure you do properly, is put on the hand-brake of the vehicle towing the trailer," he laughs.
Capp tells the story of an airboat user in the Kimberleys who had an electrical failure in the four-wheel drive he was using to tow his airboat. He simply put the handbrake on, turned the airboat motor on at about quarter throttle and then undid the hand-brake and let the big V8 blow him back to town.
Prices begin at AUS$87,000 depending on the configuration of the boat. The Panther can travel at over 120kmh. Airboat Industries can be contacted on 07 55973365 or www.airboatindustries.com.au