Back in 2005, a company with some big ideas came onto the scene. A Green Cove Springs-based company by the name of ATLAS Hovercraft Inc. was developing hovercrafts that they had hoped to make commercially available in the transportation of passengers across the St. Johns River, as well as other local waterways.
Their website’s company description read as follows:
“ATLAS Hovercraft, Inc. is an American owned, Florida based, corporation engaged in the design and manufacturing of air cushion vehicles more commonly known as hovercraft. Kurt H. Peterson is the president and senior hovercraft design engineer. Mr. Peterson has professional and personal history in the aviation and marine industries. In addition, he is a seasoned professional who gained a great deal of experience working for major corporations in the technology and transportation fields. His experience, talents, and technology are the foundation blocks that built ATLAS Hovercraft and his vision of the future guides the company to new horizons.
ATLAS Hovercraft, Inc. is positioned to become the largest hovercraft design and manufacturing company in the world. The air cushion vessels designed by Kurt H. Peterson possess advanced features that overcome many of prior hovercraft shortcomings such as low maneuverability, high maintenance costs and high noise. A hovercraft has the unique ability to travel over land or water on a bubble of air. The basic scientific principles and concepts that make a hovercraft work are over 100 years old. The technology to make hovercraft viable for military and commercial applications, however, did not exist until the mid 1950’s. Since the 1960’s, hovercraft have been built worldwide for military, commercial passenger service, and recreation purposes.”
It was estimated that each hovercraft would range anywhere from 100-125 feet in length, costing them about $10 million each. Their hope was to set up an operational port in Platka by the spring of 2007. President Kurt Peterson was seen online in a forum in April 2008 stating the following:
“Hello! I’m still here and busy as ever!
The AH-100-P is finally in the home stretch. Good things take time and this build is no exception. However, I can say that what we have learned from building this Hovercraft is now being incorporated into the New Hovercraft for 2008, 2009. The basic look will remain the same, but the changes are more internal and a function of manufacturing process than overall design.
The crew is smoothing out the exterior for paint while windows and doors are ready for installation. Most of the major system components are in place and there is a lot of wiring and plumbing going on. Working out these details on a “First Craft” is not an easy task! The R&D Department is also busy refining various aspects of the AH-100-P Hovercraft and working on some very interesting new applications. Confidentiality Agreements prevent me from giving you too many details in a public forum. Please keep in mind I do not intend to be evasive, but we are actively working with commercial and government interest projects concerning air cushion technology.
I will put together some recent pictures and post them.”
In following years, the forums, as well as their website had gone silent, lacking any update. No more information was given as the company ran into a sharp decline of funding, among numerous other unforeseen problems. This eerie, ghostly shell is all that remains of the project that ATLAS had hoped to bring to the commercial travel world.
The decaying hovercraft sits quietly rotting away on a disused airstrip inside the former Lee Field military base. The base was opened on September 11, 1940 and used through World War II. After the war, the facility became home for the US Navy’s “ghost fleet” of reserve vessels.
The air field was decommissioned in the 1960s, and most of the stored vessels were then moved. Years later in 1984, the space would be re-developed as an industrial park, now known as the Reynolds Industrial Park.
I crossed over cracked pavement, towards the mammoth vessel. Sunset washed over the ship covering it with a bright orange glow. The hovercraft was void of any interior finishing, and had never held even one passenger. Echoes stirred the silence with each step I took walking through the ship’s empty cabins. ATLAS had big plans for the company, and had hoped to make progress by bringing something new to the transportation market. It seems that the world was just not quite ready to welcome hovercrafts commercially.
Millions were invested in this initial hovercraft, which was commissioned by a wealthy Chicago businessman. The man planned to use the ship for diner cruises in Chicago. It’s a sad sight to see, when someone’s vision that they once believed in so strongly falls short of ever becoming a reality.
Very often, I’m asked what gear I use for my photography, videography, etc. Questions ranging from what type of camera/cameras I use, what lenses I use, backpacks, memory cards, even what type of laptop I recommend, or what type of introductory camera I recommend…all that stuff, and more!
Well, of course I love to recommend camera gear or adventure gear that I trust and love, so at the end of each post I create here on my blog, I like to give a bit of a run-down on gear I use almost all the time!
So here it is! My entire (or most of it) list of photography/editing/adventure gear that I use.
Sandisk Memory Cards – https://amzn.to/2SN5sX6
Sony 16-35 4.0 – https://amzn.to/2HgLFhN
Zeiss 55 1.8 – https://amzn.to/2SK4Dys
Zeiss 85 1.8 Batis – https://amzn.to/2SNRQLm
Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D – https://amzn.to/2AESLXD
My Favorite Backpack – https://amzn.to/2RKTi44
MSI Laptop (great for editing, & much more) – https://amzn.to/2shGfZn
My e-books – https://amzn.to/2Bumcwo
Hardcover books and prints available at – www.oddworldstudio.com