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New Zealand's home-made 'hoverwing' flies 5 feet above water


March 2, 2010

The "Hoverwing" home-made hovercraft-type vehicle on a test flight with a rescue vehicle in close proximity in New Zealand's south island (Photo: Marion van Dijk/Nelson)

The "Hoverwing" home-made hovercraft-type vehicle on a test flight with a rescue vehicle in close proximity in New Zealand's south island (Photo: Marion van Dijk/Nelson)

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Look! Down on the lake … is it a boat, a plane … it's neither. It’s the “hoverwing”, a hovercraft that flies. New Zealand mechanic Rudy Heeman spent more than 11 years of his spare time (and tens of thousands of dollars) building the hoverwing, a wing-in-ground-effect vehicle that flies on a cushion of pressurized air created between the wing and the water's surface. Hoverwing can reach an optimum height is 1.5m (4-5ft) above the water and has a current top speed of 98kmh (61mph).

Heeman told the The Nelson Mail that the "hoverwing", which is almost complete, has drawn local residents from their houses and cars to watch test flights over the Haven in the town of Nelson, at the northern tip of New Zealand’s south island.

Heeman is no stranger to hovercraft – he’s built and sold them for some time. But the hoverwing is his most ambitious project. So ambitious that an early test flight resulted in a crash landing. But it wasn't enough to deter him from completing the project.

The hoverwing is powered by a modified Subaru car engine while the body comprises most fibreglass.

Heeman says he’s not planning on selling his machine, but had learned so much from the building process that he was keen to build another model.

Via The Nelson Mail


This looks like a ripoff of universal hovercraft design which is also called the hoverwing that i saw more than 5 years ago. Click on the link to see the original hoverwing


Denis Klanac

DK is right, it\'s not an original idea, but all credit to the guy for building one himself. The history of \"In-ground-effect-wing\" craft or Ekranoplans is long and colourful, the Soviets having taken it to extremes in the interests of cold-war advantage. Google \"Caspian sea monster\", for example.

Mike Hallett

BRAVO to Rudy Heeman! It\'s nice to see a very public revelation not ALL aircraft innovation is rooted in the USA and dependent upon the multi-billion $ military \'welfare\' system.

As I recall - it was another New Zealander who first developed the high-speed jet-boat used in the white-water tourist trade.

Kinda reminds me of the Soviet \'Caspian Sea Monster\', \'ekranoplan\' - a \'ground-effect\' flying-boat/plane designed for various missions such as to resupply submarines far out to sea, launch missiles and serve as a rescue vessel (much like the American military \'Catalina PBY\'. Unlike the PBY, however, the Sea Monster\'s maximum altitude (like Mr Heeman\'s craft) is limited by the surface area of its wings.

See -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_effect_vehicle - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PBY_Catalina -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_boat


Denis where have you been?




he didn\'t \"steal\' it from Universal Hovercraft. Just as they didn\'t \"steal\" it from the Soviet Union who didn\'t \"steal\" it from someone else !!!

Questor Thews

universal hovercraft is NOT the original WIGE vehicle

Questor Thews

Really Denis, hardly \"stealing ideas\", the guy just built it for the fun and challenge as far as I can see. A little touch of envy from someone without any talent perhaps? And as for us \"sheep shaggers\", I believe for a small country, a number of great inventions have sprung forth from here. Where are you from by the way - you choose not to say. Perhaps a little embarassed about your heritage - or lack of it?



Just a couple of points:

The Nelson Mail article you\'re quoting was \"Last updated 00:00 20/10/2007\"(!) so \"Christmas last year\" would have been 2006. The vehicle was completed some time ago..

This vehicle is currently for sale on \"Trademe\" (NZ\'s answer to Ebay): http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/Listing.aspx?id=274622678 as a result of this it has also recently appeared on the TV news here. Videos are now on Youtube too. See links in the comments of the auction.



That\'s right Denis, that\'s a ripoff. Just like Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, Ferrari, Subaru, Fiat, Chrysler, GM, Renault and many others ripoff Ford\'s invention.

Ford must be mad in his grave.

Heck, why stop there. Boeing should be ashamed to the Wright Brothers.

Fadzlan Yahya

Fadzlan Yahya Ford did not invent the motor car, in 1885, Karl Benz designed and built a car powered by gasoline. This car was made in Germany. This was the first ever car to be granted a patent in 1886.

Looks like i hit a raw nerve there aye Mike Shagga? i\'m Aussie and proud!

and yes i have seen the Ekranoplan on fox apart from ground effect the similarities end there.

Denis Klanac

Video in action:



Just the same as the Wright brothers weren\'t the first to fly a motorised aeroplane! A little known fact is that a guy from New Zealand was. Twenty-five year old New Zealander, Richard Pearse on March 31, 1902. Whats more is his aircraft used proper ailerons and tricycle undercarriage unlike the Wright brothers who used warping wings and a ramp for take off. Pearces aircraft was far more advanced and he has basically no recognition for this throughout America. Thats pretty typical though. Many great things have been invented there and dont get the recognition they deserve. Im not from NZ, Im Aussie, and Ive spent a great deal of time flying and recently partook in the defence force Pilots selection Agency which very few make it into. Sorry but Americans really get on my nerves.

Vaughan Barton-Johnson

Hey Vaughan, It is a bloody short article on a hovercraft. We are so impressed by your historical perspective on the history of flight and your impressive credentials that you were so happy to post for everone to read. In addition your hatred of Americans or whatever you would care to call it demonstrates your childish persona. Really mate grow up and get a life. As for the hovercraft which is what this whole comment section was designed for, all I can say is nice work mate. That craft is an example of Kiwi craftsmanship. G\'day, Nick (Dunedin)

Nick Dee

First off.... it is NOT a true hovercraft!! once you stop.....you flop!!!!!!!!!


Did he steal it? He could have at least given it a different name. Universal Hovercraft has worked hard for years and has built their company through the sale of plans and parts for the common man. They are NOT rich,dumb Americans leaching off the corporate military industrial complex. They have achieved a cost-effective solution to a problem that has evaded some of the brightest minds in aviation. Their innovation was superior to the earlier designs in its efficiency,simplicity and ease of operation. This guy is even using the same engine! I don\'t fault him- it\'s just some of the dumb natonalism in the comments that bums me out. If we\'re really such forward thinkers, let\'s get beyond the flags and focus on the facts. Heck,maybe the guy named his design after UH\'s design so as to tip his hat in appreciation. Let\'s move on and BUILD our dreams to prove our point- come what may! Our company provides the power for an amazing new WIG vessel- twice the thrust of a Lear Jet,but I say power to the little guy who endeavour to persevere against all odds. Go to marineturbine.com and click on \"special projects\". Peace, -g


I want one.

Mark A

This IS a UH design that was copied. There was no near one like UH's when he invented their particular way, so he invented it. Saying otherwise is a lie and revisionist history.

GE was discovered before flight was because early 'aircraft' couldn't get out of it from lack of power. But there is danger in these because the Center of Lift moves in the opposite direction you want, pitching the nose down as you get closer to the water. UH is one of the better at that. As such he should get credit and doing it several decades ago.

That said great Vid Druid!! I hadn't seen those before and I got a lot of technical data from just watching them.

Ground Effect can carry 2x's the payload/hp as an aircraft can do 250-300mph in big sizes. Because of this economy, high speed and comfort there is a good future for these once everything is sorted out. A large version of UH's could do just this.


I love these efforts, so many people try, that I'm sure there will be a usefull solution for personal flying commuting. That I can park on the balcony of my apartment


Nothing stops a Wig craft for flying over land but human LAWS and with air cushion ride of hovercraft ruff ground terrain doesn't matter much either.

Joseph Mertens

Doing that well with heavy fiberglass, you might consider using carbon fiber composite. Also, the largest weight can be virtually eliminated by taking out the Subaru engine, replacing it with a rotary Wankel air motor from EngineAir Australia, and a 10,000 psi air pressure tank also made of carbon fiber composite (Quantum Technologies, QTWW on Nasdaq). Then you'd be able to replace surface cars and boats of all kinds.

Jay Dillon
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