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Calgary family to journey by hovercraft across Alberta this summer

06/16/2015 03:26 EDT | Updated 06/16/2016 05:59 EDT
A Calgary family is planning a futuristic road trip.

Colin Steadman is going to float his wife, kids and maybe even the pet dog across Alberta in a hovercraft this summer.

"The wife told me, 'You can have a toy but the whole family has to be able to use it 12 months a year,' so a boat or skidoos were out," said Steadman.

He's purchased what he calls the "BMW of hovercraft," a 225-kilogram machine that can go backwards and forwards over land, water, grass, sand and ice. 

Hovercraft 101

It's a good thing Steadman has his pilot's licence, and a military helicopter background, because you don't drive a hovercraft.

You fly it.

"You're about two feet off the ground, so all the basic characteristics of flight come into play. If we're flying with a tail wind, we can go faster. If we're flying into a head wind, we go slower," said Steadman. 

Most hovercraft have at least two engines connected to large fans, similar to an airplane propeller.

The bottom edge of the hovercraft is lined with a curtain, made of fabric or rubber, called a skirt.

Once you fire up the engines and the fans start turning, they draw air underneath the craft and fill up the skirt.

"So the skirt seals the air in and then you just start floating," said Steadman, who says his hovercraft floats about half a metre above the ground.

- Manitoba students build hovercraft with Styrofoam, garbage bags

Rules of the Road

So could the Steadmans take their hovercraft on the Deerfoot?

"Could I? Yes. Would the police like it? No."

He says he can ge this hovercraft up to 100 km/h on ice, but he'll have to wait until winter to give that a try. 

This summer, the family will be doing a loop around Alberta, starting and ending in Calgary with stops in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Lloydminster, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Edmonton and Red Deer.

They'll be raising money for the charity Threads of Life, which supports families whose loved ones have died in workplace accidents.

The Steadmans are already planning their next summer vacation, when they will be hovering from Victoria to St. John's, Nfld.

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