Hovercraft promises world of fun for new buyer

By John Cousins

1 comment
TERRIFIC TOY: John Forkert and his hovercraft will be parting ways if he can find a buyer. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN
TERRIFIC TOY: John Forkert and his hovercraft will be parting ways if he can find a buyer. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN

A big boy's toy capable of turning Tauranga Harbour into the ultimate playground is up for sale by a man who thrives on trying new things.

Keen fisherman John Forkert bought the Air Rider hovercraft a year ago because of its amazing abilities to skim across the harbour and whiz up rivers to his favourite fishing spots.

But like a lot of good intentions, the day-to-day demands of life intervened for the 68-year-old Greerton businessman and he was now looking for a buyer because his next challenge was a bush block near Opotiki.

Mr Forkert was only too happy to talk about his attention-grabbing classified advertisement in the Bay of Plenty Times.

Parked up on a trailer at the rear of his Alach St factory and home, the qualities of the hovercraft were not immediately obvious. But the ease of lift-off provided a clue to its versatility, which was what attracted him to the Christchurch-built hovercraft.

Mr Forkert said the Air Rider 34 was a huge step up from the hovercraft he owned 15 years ago. It could hover mid-channel at the entrances to Tauranga Harbour, offering the best chance to catch really good snapper.

"It is brilliant fishing the entrances because you don't have to anchor."

He explained how the super stable craft with a 43cm clearance to the hull could hover for four hours at three-quarters power on a 25-litre tank of gas.

And with the latest VHF and satellite navigation attachments, the pilot could hold a GPS position on hover while the fishing took place. But most of all, Mr Forkert said the hovercraft was fun.

"Is it a big boy's toy? You bet it is. It can go anywhere, but you have to be sensible."

It effortlessly rode over obstacles like kerbs and most river rapids, although he would not tempt fate by taking it out to sea. "If the chop is over 17 inches you have a problem. Swells would be okay but you wouldn't take it out to sea unless it was glassy smooth."

It was powered by a 40-horsepower engine often used for generators. "The power and fans complement each other."

Mr Forkert said there had been little interest shown in the hovercraft since it was advertised, despite it having less than 50 hours on the clock since new.

He suspected it was because most people believed a hovercraft was beyond them, even although this one was easy to learn to drive.

It comfortably seated two adult passengers, which he said gave the craft commercial potential for guided fishing adventures.

"It doesn't matter what the tide is, and you just travel as the crow flies - it is quick."

He had added his own touches to make it easier to handle and more versatile.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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