If there were an award for best DIY hybrid hovercraft-airplane, Rudy Heeman would likely take home the prize. Heeman, who has been building hovercraft in his garage as a hobby for years, commandeered a few items from around the house — a propane bottle from the backyard grill, some electronic implements from his daughter’s toys, the odd part from his wife’s car — to create this hovercraft that actually takes to the skies when he pushes it to speeds over 45 miles per hour.
The hovercraft functions as a stand-alone vehicle, but with the detachable wings in place it becomes a small aircraft capable of a top cruising speed of about 60 miles per hour. While it doesn’t fly very high, the 1.8-liter engine pushes the craft to a ceiling between around 10 feet — plenty high to clear fences, cars and the inevitable slack-jawed onlooker — and has a range of 140 miles.
Heeman estimates he’s put about 800 hours into his hover-plane as well as tens of thousands of his own dollars, but he’s trying to unload it for just $13,000 US (to seed some other “secret projects” it seems). And because it’s not considered an aircraft by New Zealand law you need no special licensing to fly it. In New Zealand, that is. Something tells us the FAA might have something to say about it.