Cross-Channel hovercraft should be up and running

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry gives an address during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and Zella love it    CREDIT:  Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

ZELLA COMPTON: He could almost have made me a believer

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I was delighted to hear that the Hovercraft Museum will be open to the public in the new year after repair work to the main hangars at HMS Daedalus.

As museums go, this one has some of the best displays you could imagine. If it were a museum of aviation, it would contain Concorde.

I’d sit on the seafront, listening to the gas turbine whistle into life as the smell of aviation fuel filled the air

The last two giant car-carrying cross-Channel hovercraft have been resting at Lee-on-the-Solent for almost 15 years now. Their owner originally wanted their lightweight but very powerful gas turbine engines, but to date they remain in place.

In my mind, it’s such a shame that these incredible craft are only on static display.

Just imagine the scene as their immense power fills their skirts and lifts them 10 feet in the air right in front of you.

There’s also the world’s oldest operational hovercraft, an SRN6.

These were the craft that started my fascination. They used to run between Ryde and Southsea – you may remember them.

They were orange and white, with a single propeller. I’d sit on the seafront, listening to the gas turbine whistle into life as the smell of aviation fuel filled the air.

As they rose, the noise from that propeller would be deafening. I loved them!

For me, those hovercraft should be up and running.

I know red tape is a major issue, but imagine how many people would crowd the seafront to see one of those monsters rise into life?

I would like the Marine and Coastguard Agency to work with the museum to find a way to allow those hovercraft to be used on open days. They are not passenger-operating craft, so shouldn’t need the tightest of regulation.

In 2016, Hovertravel introduce a new design of hovercraft on the Ryde service.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it donated one of the remaining AP1-88 craft it currently uses to the museum?

She could take kids out on short trips to experience travel on the craft. That may even drum up custom on their own service.

Exciting times and long may the world’s only hovercraft museum continue.