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back to article Hobbyist killed by home-made hovercraft

A 40-year-old New Zealand man has been killed by a blade from a home-made hovercraft. Police have said the blade came loose and struck Alastair Senior in the back of the head (the accident was originally reported to have decapitated the victim). Senior had “spent years” building the device in his garage, according to the New …

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Big Brother

That's pretty sad

Man puts good time into his hobby, accident occurs. No-one deserves to be killed by his creation. Though I make an exception for the creature from Jekyll Island.

How is that different from falling off a ladder while painting the house, pray tell?

Also, is regulation now so pervasive that it's noteworthy that something isn't regulated?

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A swamp boat is not a hovercraft.

It doesn't use an air cushion.

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Headmaster

A swamp boat is not a hovercraft...

That's right, but the part of the design they're referring to is the propulsion. which is the same in this case..

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Coat

So?

"the part of the design they're referring to is the propulsion. which is the same in this case"

The Wright Flyer used rear-mounted props in a pusher configuration too. I don't hear anyone accusing *that* of being a hovercraft just because it happens to share a similar propulsion design.

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A swamp boat is not a hovercraft...

I don't recall ever seeing a hovercraft that using anything but this manner of propulsion.

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Anonymous Coward

Hovercrafts on public roads?

"According to Sergeant Nutall, no license is required to build or operate hovercraft unless they’re used on public roads."

Are you really allowed to operate hovercrafts on public roads in NZ?

That is like allowing drunks on pogosticks to motorways. A strong wing gust will push it anywhere. Out of all things humans have made, the only transport less operable is a hot air balloon.

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WTF?

hmm

Unless its like a hovercraft that can then put down a set of wheels I'm also puzzles as to how it would be safe to have a hovercraft on the mainroad.

Hmm http://www.smartsrus.com/images/other/Smart-Hovercraft.jpg

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Windows

"only transport less operable is a hot air balloon."

Disagree. My friend's husband makes his living flying these, and he can put it down on a sixpence.

But Your quote "allowing drunks on pogosticks to motorways" had me rolling about again. Ta muchly!

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Unhappy

Very sad news.

That is really sad news. He sounded like a really good guy. Apparently his partner and neighbour witnessed the incident and as he was only 40 when he died, I guess his 3 kids are still young, which is so bad for them to loose their father as well so soon. That is such a sad story. :(

Hovercraft are a lot of fun and it sounded like he was very unlucky after a structural failure. Its obviously easy to say in hindsight, but I guess he was having so much fun driving it for the first time, that he didn't stop to see how it was holding up. I suppose at least it can be said he died doing what he loved doing so much, but its really sad for his family. My sincere condolences to his family. He sounded like a good person to know. :(

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Happy

Re: Very sad news

I see one heartless bastard confused the thumbs down button with the thumbs up one.

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Facepalm

back of the head?

So he was either standing behind the hovercraft with his back to it, or the prop was spinning in reverse?

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Headmaster

back of the head?...

no. Structural failure caused the blade to fly off the shaft. Could go in any direction, depending on loads of factors.

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Bronze badge

A Frame

Depends how you read it. It says the A frame supporting the prop failed. That being the case he would presumably have to be in the drivers seat as the prop would come forwards when the A frame failed.

The moral of the story? Don't build something potentially dangerous unless you are very confident of your frabrication skills and get somebody else to check it and test it before you use it.

I'm not saying that this guy would have been as dumb as some I've come across, but I knew a bloke who built his own automotive space frame and suspension arms with zero welding experience. I pulled one of his welded joints appart by hand. Imagine if that thing had got as far as the road.

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Anonymous Coward

Agred

Obviously so, but it seems to me that the cage that should have been around the fan blades either didn't exist, or wasn't substantial enough to deal with the forces requested of it. There would be considerable kinetic energy in those rotating blades.

I rather suspect that the protection he put around the fan assembly was inadequate.

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Anonymous Coward

I've heard this on TV many times

Don't try this at home.

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Headmaster

Swamp boat ain't a hovercraft

It's just a boat with a big ol' fan on the back instead of a propeller. Or you could think of it as simply an air propeller, sure. The point is that the fan is can push it over shallow water, logs, alligators, etc. without breaking or getting stuck the way an outboard motor would.

But it doesn't hover.

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Boffin

Which one?

It's either a 'swamp boat" or a hovercraft. It can't be both, unless the now-ex-inventor came up with a unique design.

The NZ Herald's article is less than clear and their photo is from a photo library, but with the report saying,

"...when the propeller came loose. It fell and the blade struck him on the back of the head.",

I'd suspect it's more like a Florida swamp boat than a hovercraft. Hovercraft float on air; air boats float on water.

Regardless of the above, it's a loss when someone shuffles off their mortal coil while pursuing a dream.

Icon to tell social column / police beat reporters to stop reporting on technical subjects beyond their ken.

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Oh for chuff's sake

Please google* 'swamp boat images' and 'hovercraft images' and compare.

All swamp boats and most hovercraft have a huge fan (sometimes two) in the same place on the vehicle.

It's like saying that a Robin Reliant has a one-wheel-at-front-two-wheels-at-back configuration, just like a jet aircraft. It's not like saying that a Robin Reliant IS a jet aircraft, so please stop looking for technical mistakes where none exist.

*other search engines do exist.

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Just to be pedantic

It's Reliant Robin, not Robin Reliant, unless I drive a Civic Honda.

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Thumb Up

Hahahaha

You are indeed correct sir. I doff my cap to your pedantic accuracy.

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Joke

Geoff Mackenzie

" It's Reliant Robin, not Robin Reliant, unless I drive a Civic Honda. "

Do you work for the mayor...?

Do you use one of the pool cars...?

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Anonymous Coward

Pool cars?

Nice way to get back on topic.

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"No license is required to build or operate hovercraft unless they’re used on public roads."

Wow, I'd love to see someone trying to control a hovercraft on the roads. I'd have thought it would have been illegal to take them on the road rather than needing a licence.

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Then take a look at my brother-in-law... (Pic #4)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/6910533.stm

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Hovercraft on the roads?

I'm pretty sure we can make an exception to the rule when the road in question is under three feet of water.

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Windows

"My hovercraft is full of eels"

-sprang to mind. However, when I flew microlights years ago, you wouldn't start the thing if spectators were in direct line (i,e. 90 degrees) from the prop, which was wooden (I kid you not!). There was always the risk one of the two bades would shear, or throw some stones at the onlookers.

I'm just a bit confused how the blade came forward, and not out of the side.

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wondering

The article doesnt make a lot of sense, But I presume he is either standing on the side of the rotating propellor and it comes of, goes through the gaurd and strikes him in the head. Or he is standing in front of the rotating propellor and it ricochets of the gaurd into the poor fella's back. Or, he propellor wasnt moving, he was ducked underneath it and it fell on the back of his head.

And this presumes it is a airboat instead of a hovercraft.

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Unhappy

The "A" frame failed

Which probably means it "broke", perhaps in such a way that it (due to twisting forces?) collapsed and turned through 90 degrees, perhaps even twisting part of the "A" frame into the blades, if there was a guard perhaps it twisted out of the way or ripped open.

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FAIL

wondering

If you know that the opposite of ON is OFF.

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Windows

YOU'RE retarded, not YOUR retarded.

Please, get it right. My grandparents afforded me a place at a "Grammar" school. Therefore, I worked hard at my English, as I now am doing with my Finnish.

I know people have trouble with "their", "there" and "the're".

But getting it wrong is like being interviewed for a senior position wearing a baseball cap pointing backwards. It just says "Numpty"

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Happy

Nope

I think I know what my name is.

And I agree with you. I went to a Grammar school too.

See http://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/1138086

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Trollface

It still astounds me.

Obvious Troll is obvious.

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Windows

Okay, Okay...I admit defeat.

...But as my grandparents sent me, would that be a "grannie" school? ;-) Leamington College for Boys (Now Binswood Hall), which I really want to refer to on a CV as "Bugger Hall" and see who reads the thing.

Did a report once, where I said...we used a CMD57 (Rohde and Swarz measuring tool) , and a P2C2E....

In the vocabulary of the report, I had to explain all the abbreviations I used. Then the document was reviewed. Nokia way.

P2C2E? "Process Too Complex To Explain"*

From the reviewers (20 or so) only one person picked it up..Review process practically worthless.

*(Salman Rushdie - "Haroun and the Sea of Stories". One for your kids, it's well written, good reading, and damn funny)

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Angus McCoatup not Andus McCoatover

You don't know you're name either...

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Windows

"You don't know you're name either.."

You don't know "Your from You're either". Gotcha.

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Windows

Angus McCoatup is someone else, mimicking my nick.

Must've been chatting to my Indian mate, Mahatma Kote.

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Anonymous Coward

I think it's fairly clear

"The hovercraft’s design apparently imitates what’s called a 'swamp boat' in the USA, with a propeller attached to an A-frame at the rear of the boat"

It's a hovercraft unless everyone's got a fundamental part of the story wrong.

Its propulsion, rather than multiple fans or ducting, is a single fan on a A-frame reminiscent of a swamp boat.

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Unhappy

Fan guard?

Where he was positioned in relation to the fan is almost immaterial. My first reaction was, how did the fan blade get past the guard? I mean, the fan *was* enclosed by a guard, right?

Either way, very sad to be killed by something like that, especially leaving behind a wife and kids.

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Headmaster

Fan guard..

is designed to stop you getting near the fan, not vice versa.

It's not supposed to compensate for the propeller coming off.

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Anonymous Coward

Are you sure?

I'm sure elf 'n safety would have something to say about that.

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Stop

Regulation-haters

Some may howl at the suggestion that a personal hobby such as this should be covered by regulation, but laws are there not to protect us from ourselves but from others. The blade could have easily hit someone else, possibly an innocent member of the public. Its like the 'why should I be forced by law to wear a helmet while on my motorbike' argument. If you kill yourself thats up to you, but what about others, and the extra burden you unnecessarily put on the health service?

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Flame

erm

If I kill myself having an accident whilst riding a motorbike without a lid, assuming I die before the ambulance arrives, surely I'm putting less of a strain on the health service than if I am wearing a lid and have an accident and subsequently need lots of medical attention due to injuries?

(I am deliberately ignoring the effects either may have on friends and family, but I can think of siutuations where dying would place less burden on them than surviving, depending on the personalities of the people involved)

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Go

No helmet...

...probably means there's less burden on the health service as you're more likely to be killed in an accident than survive it but with life-changing injuries.

I don't see how forcing bikers to wear helmets protects anyone else, other than maybe from the financial implications of losing the family bread-winner.

Stick to horse riding, no nanny-state regulations in play there unless you're in certain organised competitions....

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Lidless bikers

I read somewhere (in 'Superfreakonomics' I think) that where helmets are not mandatory on motorcycles, there are more healthy organs available for transplant, so not only do lidless bikers put less of a load on the health service, they're actually quite helpful.

Arguably, riding without a lid might make accidents more likely - I haven't seen any statistics but it's pretty distracting hitting a large insect (like a wasp or a bee) with a lid on, let alone without one. I suppose that might be offset by the 'wasp stuck in helmet' risk though; I'd be interested to see the numbers.

Well, not that interested to be completely honest. But I'd wear a lid on my bike whether or not it was a legal requirement, and I suspect most bikers would do the same.

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only if...

... you're over 14 if your under 14 then it is a legal requirement that you wear a helmet.

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Windows

"Stick to horse riding",

Even for that, you'd be daft not to wear a (reinforced) riding hat.

Same as riding a bike. Helmet. It may not look cool, but sitting in a hospital chair, dribbling, while a nurse tries to spoon-feed you doesn't either.

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Happy

True...

... forgot about that. And that is definitely a self-protection rule as at 14 it's unlikely that you'd have any dependants to burden the state with if you were killed.

Then again I'd most likely be dead or brain damaged if I'd not been wearing a helmet when some twat knocked me off my push-bike one time - and there's no legal obligation to wear bike helmets at any age...

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Happy

Riding hats...

...can look pretty cool I think. I always wear one, just pointing out that if you want a dangerous hobby with little H&S interference, horse riding is a pretty good one.

Tally Ho!

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Ru
FAIL

Re: Regulation-haters

"Could have easily hit someone else", you say? Based on what evidence?

There are already plenty of legal frameworks across the world for dealing with situations where an idiot puts other people at risk. I don't recall any suggestion that he was doing so here. I'm sure you'd love to live in the sort of nanny state that forbids all activities except those expressly defined as safe and acceptable, but a combination of a compensation culture and removing people's personal responsibility does no-one any good in the long run.

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