After 28 years, a sight and sound unique to our beaches has finally gone. I’m talking about the AP1-88 hovercraft turning off the beach by Clarence Pier and powering her way back to Ryde.
Twenty-eight-year-old buses have long been retired, trains cut up and aeroplanes recycled, but Freedom 90 may well go on to see a new future with another operator.
Hovercraft have been running from Southsea since 1965. The pioneering SRN6 craft were small, noisy but fascinating to watch. A single gas turbine engine from a helicopter would whistle away, with the waft of aviation fuel mixed in. A single propellor would create so much noise, it would deafen you.
By 1983, a new, simpler, quieter design was ready to enter service.
Built by Hovertravel and the British Hovercraft Corporation, the 80-seat Tenacity set a new standard. We were so impressed by how quiet she was in comparison.
By 1990, the larger 100 seat Freedom 90 entered service with her sister Double-o-Seven. She carried the name Freedom, as like the SRN6 craft of the same name, she was built by Hovertravel itself, with no outside help.
As many other craft were sold on, Freedom 90 has carried on serving the island non-stop ever since yet now she too has been replaced by a new and improved design.
The 12000TD Solent Flyer and Island Flyer were designed and built locally by Griffon/Hoverwork at Woolston. With their striking Union Flag livery, they add a splash of colour to the Solent.
But Spithead is a tough environment and the new craft have taken a while to settle, needing plenty of modifications to improve their reliability.
But as the AP1-88 did in 1983, the new craft have impressed, with their vibration-free, quiet environment and smoother ride.
But unlike the four-engined craft they’ve replaced, these two-engined hovercraft seem like they need more ‘grunt’ at times and work continues to improve their performance.
It was only a matter of time before Hovertravel would say goodbye to the AP1, so let’s hope the new 12000TD is just as successful.
TRUMP AND KIM JONG-UN – WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
Did we ever think we’d see the day Kim Jong-un would shake hands then embrace the president of South Korea? Well it’s happened, but many are sceptical.
Do you believe Kim Jong-un? I do. You see, he wants to be important and sit on the top table. By developing and testing nuclear weapons, he was well and truly been on everyone’s radar, literally.
Now, with the promise of a denuclearised zone, the west will do all it can to keep the short tubby one happy.
I think he knew his nuclear programme was failing and sanctions were working, but has done enough to get everyone to play ball.
Now it’s up to Donald to massage his ego. What could possibly go wrong?
MISSED TRICK AT NEWGATE LANE
I hate to say ‘I told you so’ but, ‘I told you so’.
As reported in The News this week the new Newgate Lane East has done little or nothing to improve congestion between Gosport and Fareham.
And for a new road the surface is surprising lumpy as your car wallows in the undulations.
There is still a pinch point at HMS Collingwood, and the Peel Common roundabout stuffs up the flow at busy times. I’m sure the residents of Newgate Lane West love the peace and quiet now, but a dual carriageway in both directions keeping the old road open would have solved this problem.
But as the old road is now blocked off, the trick has been missed, again.