Hovercraft for archaeological site surveys

Hov Pod GPS Ground Radar Use : Credit Ground Survey

There seems to be a general mis-conception that hovercraft died out in the early 1970’s – but reports of the death of hovercraft have been greatly exaggerated.

New manufacturing techniques have reduced the size and costs of hovercraft and emerging technologies can be configured with hovercraft to help speed up archaeological site surveys.

The Hov Pod SPX TCC Hovercraft is a three to 4 man hovercraft manufactured from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), a very strong yet lightweight material.

When configured with ground surveying equipment and GPS mapping software, the Hov Pod can quickly scan an area, perhaps the size of a football pitch to create a map showing sub-terrain features that might better show the general layout of an archaeological site.

Compare this modern approach with the alternative man and metal detector technique, the hovercraft with GPS mapping provides a general site map, before work commences, thus providing a better overall understanding of the site and important features that might be missed by the needle in a haystack approach.  Such information can help archaeologists plan their approach more effectively, and provide vital information that might otherwise be lost.

Over time, rivers change their course and some archaeological sites may become submerged or buried under estuary mud in coastal areas – hovercraft make such site surveys possible.

Hovercraft can travel over any flat surface, so this could be land, sand, mud, ice, snow.

Hovercraft have no propellers to get snagged in shallow water areas, and as they float about 8 inches above the surface, they have an extremely light footprint, similar to a sea gull standing on one leg! They can operate in areas where boats cannot, for example, they are airborne so fast running water or tidal streams have little effect. The Hov Pod can provide close aerial reconnaissance at a fraction of the price of conventional aircraft.

The Hov Pod has been used for a wide variety of applications including site surveying and detection of unexploded ordnance (UXO), most recently in a desert area affected by the Iran/Iraq war. Once conflicts subside, developments such as pipeline construction can be seriously hindered by the long process of UXO detection and safe removal.

Not only can unexploded ordnance become unstable, chemicals can leach out over time to further contaminate areas and ground water, making vast areas “no-go” zones. On a global scale, UXO clean-up costs are estimated at tens of billions of dollars, and vast tracts of land cannot be used until UXO has been removed. Several companies have expressed interest in applying UAV technology to allow the Hov Pod to operate remotely in dangerous areas.


There are various hovercraft characteristics to consider, for survey use, the hovercraft must be easy to use, and not require specialist pilots or engineers. The hovercraft should be easy to steer, be able to keep to a strict course, at slow speed, to ensure that you collect data to cover the whole area to be surveyed, without gaps.

The hovercraft should be rugged and durable, and easy to transport by standard vehicle. All hovercraft are weight dependent vehicles, and need power in reserve to start when on water – starting on land is easier, but when starting from an on-water position, all hovercraft create a bow wave known as “The Hump”.

Some smaller hovercraft are unsuitable because they are unable to get over hump due to insufficient power, they generate a lot of spray and fail to get airborne, so having the right engine with sufficient power to carry the correct payload is important.

The Hov Pod Hovercraft is unique; constructed from very durable HDPE. It is manufactured in Southampton, UK, by Reaction International Ltd and exported to all countries. Demonstrations and further information can be obtained by contacting the company website at:

Contributing Source : Ground Survey

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