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Wednesday January 7, 2015

January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

An Inspiring story of wooden Hovercraft construction, dedication to students and craftsmanship!
This moving account speaks to the efforts of Bob Windt, an elementary school science teacher, her husband,  and a team of students in Iowa who embarked on an astonishing Hovercraft program, in an effort to boost interest in science and academic performance.  Their results have been nothing short of astounding!
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David Moritz, (the husband), tells the story below.
“My wife and I have restored wood boats and love mahogany so I am familiar with the Port Carling website. My wife is also a 5th and 6th grade science teacher in a small Iowa town close to the Mississippi River. When my wife started her 5th and 6th grade after-school science club I wanted to help somehow. A friend of ours, Bob Windt, who is known as the Father of the Hovercraft, is dedicated to helping kids engage their minds and learn with fun science toys. When we approached Bob about building a hovercraft with some kids we picked one of his UH-6F designs and he agreed to help. The build was on. That was 5 years ago. With 5 boys in 5th and 6th grade we built the UH-6F powered by a Honda 6.5hp engine and a 24 inch prop.
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The UH-6F was limited to payload weight so the craft was somewhat limited to what it could do. The reason for the build was to encourage kids to maintain good grades in all subjects and have regular attendance in science club. It worked! The following year science club numbers went up and at the end of the year these kids were able to drive the UH-6F as a reward. Some of the larger kids caught an edge here and there, so we decided to build another hovercraft. We sold the UH-6F to a Grandpa for his younger grand-kids and put the money toward the new hovercraft. After a year passed, we decided to build a pointed UH-13 craft that is 13 feet long and 60 inches wide on the back of the craft. The craft has a 14 hp Briggs and Stratton engine for both the 24 inch lift and 36 inch thrust duct fans with a belt drive and idler pulley system. The UH-13 hovercraft with a 6th grader on board will run 30 to 40 mph as it goes across the Mississippi River backwaters and is perfect for bribing kids to get good grades with the reward at the end of the school year being a pizza party and driving a hovercraft.
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After having 2 sessions of high achieving kids last year for grades, we found that there were some kids that were more comfortable having somebody else drive. So we decided to build a UH-20 design with some more kids. We started in November of 2014. The new craft is 20’ long and 8’ wide at the back of the craft and will be a double engine craft, a 26 hp. lift motor with a 30 inch lift prop and duct and a Subaru EA81 engine driving a 54 inch prop and thrust duct. The bottom of the hovercraft has been completed and the skirt has been installed. Next time we work on it, we will flip it over and start on the cockpit and mounting the lift duct. For videos of the kids driving the hover for their good grades and pictures of progress on the construction, like the Muscatine Boat Show Facebook page or go to www.muscatineboatshow.com.
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The work with kids in so much fun and to watch the lights come on when they get basic science principles is so cool! Hmmm . . . . the change in the pitch of the prop makes the craft go further but loads the engine differently, Hmmmm . . . . .the pulley sizes also make a difference on the RPM of the motor, Hmmmm . . . . . .it does matter where people sit! All things they learn and have fun at the same time is a win-win situation for all. Kids today just need your time, so take the time. Science club numbers have increased and there are more and more kids in a little Iowa town who can say they have floated on air and helped make it happen. That is what it should be about! Get engaged with kids and enjoy the ride, it is the best thing you can do.
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Come to Muscatine, Iowa on the Mississippi River Labor Day weekend 2015 for the “That Was Then, This Is Now” event and bring your boats for a great time. The kids will also be there along with the hovercrafts to answer any questions you may have and also join us on the Mighty Mississippi!”

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