Grand Challenge - Two Person Hovercraft

Project Type: Propulsion and Levitation

Project Information

Project Description:

Two Person HovercraftThe Hovercraft Grand Challenge is in two parts:  For Part One, the Team divides into two groups and constructs separate, one-person hovercrafts from kits by Universal Hovercraft (UH-10F, #4610FK).  The Team will use the kits to learn about hovercraft aerodynamics and race them in competition.  In Part Two, the unified Team will design and build a high-performance, two-person hovercraft that uses separate engines for lift and thrust.  Proceeds from the auction of the two kit machines will be used to help finance the two-person design.

The Team’s two-person design must incorporate all the proper safety features, including its ability to float like a boat in case of a system failure over water.  Further design features must include safe fuel management, fire suppression, engine instrumentation, and sturdy prop ducts and guards.

Level of Difficulty: High


lift, thrust, pitch, drag, p-factor, linear momentum, angular momentum, skirt, fuselage, and empennage


Hov Pod Hovercraft; (examples)

Hovercraft Construction;

Hoverclub of America;

Team Roles

Electrical Engineer (2) – Electrical Engineers on the project are generally responsible for all electrical systems, which include battery, starters, instrumentation, and standard engine diagnostics.  Additionally, the Electrical Engineers design and manage the communication system between a base station and the hovercrafts.

Mechanical Engineer (2) – Mechanical Engineers on the project are generally responsible for the engines and props that produce lift and thrust.  The responsibilities also include the skirt design and a cooling system for the engines and oil.

Aeronautical Engineer (2) – The Aeronautical Engineers are responsible for the air flow designs that produce lift and thrust.  Calculations and simulations will be used to determine thrust and skirt pressure vs. engine power.  Weight and balance calculations will be used to determine overall payload, seating location, and critical flight characteristics, especially in a horizontal skid.

Computer Scientist (2) – The Computer Scientists are responsible for airframe and system diagnostics that are collected in the craft’s “black box.”  The data loggers will trace engine rpm, acceleration, lift pressure, thrust airflow and ground speed.  Data will be used to determine the craft’s performance envelope.

Designer (2) – Designers on the project primarily focus on the two-person machine.  CAD illustrations will be used to integrate subsystem placements while tracking weight distributions and balance.  The design process for the two-person machine is very dynamic and involves everyone.  The Designers arbitrate the new ideas to make sure none violate a fixed set of design guidelines.

Journalist (1) – The Journalist documents the project’s progress on the website, communicates with the local media, and is responsible for a final report to the principal sponsors and Power Mountain Engineering.  The Journalist also works closely with the Multimedia Artist to provide video and graphic art displays for demonstrations that explain the project to the public.  The whole project is your project.

Multimedia Artist (1) – The Artist also documents the project’s progress on the website and works with the Journalist to maintain the project’s presence on social media.  Additionally, the Artist designs and organizes all public relations events to assure spectator safety and to enhance the community’s awareness of science and technology.  The whole project is your project.

Business Manager (1) – The Business Manager is responsible for reporting the project’s progress against a predetermined schedule, determines critical path items to completion, and tracks project spending to assure that costs remain within a fixed budget.  The Manager works with all team members to identify problems early and resolve them quickly.  The whole project is your project.

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