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Author Topic: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?  (Read 5733 times)

RMHoward

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What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« on: August 03, 2010, 12:09:54 PM »
A few years ago, there was a news spotlight on Atlas Hovercrafts.  They were manufacturing a very large hovercraft on the old tarmac at Reynolds industrial complex in Green Cove Springs.  The owner (cant remember his name) was very enthusiastic about bringing hovercrafts into the mainstream and even envisioned a hovercraft ferry between downtown Jville and Clay County.  Anyways, no work has been done in at least 2 years, the building looks vacated (with nasty notes on the door from official type folks) and the hovercraft still sits out there frozen in time.  So, just another victum of  a bad economy?  Anyone know?
Thanks
Rick

Coolyfett

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2010, 12:24:41 PM »
ive never heard of this project....and the craft is just sitting out on the water?
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RMHoward

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2010, 12:33:10 PM »
No, not on the water.  It is sitting out on the concrete tarmac by the old hangars .  The company had a shop/administration bldg.  adjacent to where the hovercraft is setting.  This business employed quite a few folks a few years ago.  At lunch time, i would come down and watch them build this thing.  Then one day, all the people were gone, and the hovercraft was left setting there.  Quite an investment just sitting out there.
Rick

BridgeTroll

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2010, 01:00:21 PM »
http://www.hovercraftalaska.com/mainpages/hnpages/cur_news/HNwrdarc.html


Quote
September 15, 2006 - ATLAS Hovercraft

Floating an Idea: ATLAS chief hopes his hovercraft will soon be rolling on the river, Florida

PALATKA DAILY NEWS  , By Anthony DeMatteo  adematteo@palatkadailynews.com

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- The head of a Green Cove Springs hovercraft company who addressed the Palatka City Commission last month said he hopes Palatka will have a port from which a ferry service can operate by next spring.

Kurt Peterson, the chief executive officer of ATLAS Hovercraft, said he is in discussions with the Jacksonville Transit Authority to permit his vessels’ commercial use of the St. Johns River.

Peterson said the transit authority has a regional charter governing use of the river.

A hovercraft travels on a pressurized bubble of air over land and sea.

The company’s vessels are 100-125 feet long and cost approximately $10 million each. The company would maintain ownership of the boats, sharing passenger revenue with the city.

Palatka has procured $1.7 million in federal grant money to fund the construction of a vessel or related infrastructure.

The project is the brainchild of Vice Mayor Mary Lawson Brown, who for 12 years has worked on bringing a passenger riverboat to town.

The switch to a hovercraft might be necessary, Brown said, because the state Department of Transportation wants proof the city can pay for the operation of any watercraft and funds are limited.

A hovercraft port could be funded with the grant money.

Peterson said he pitched the idea of the hovercraft coming to Palatka to Brown at a seminar this summer.

Brown said if the city gets one of the crafts, she will likely apply for additional grant money to fund the purchase of a paddleboat that could take passengers to Crescent City for a catfish dinner or to Welatka to munch on crabs.

“We’re still working on the paddleboat,” Brown said. “At the same time, we are working on getting the hovercraft here.”

Regional transport system

Both Brown and Peterson said they view the hovercraft plan as “regional” and are working with neighboring cities to participate.

Peterson said ATLAS, based in Green Cove Springs, would pay for the crafts’ operation, fuel and crew. He said at the August meeting that the company is considering relocating to Putnam County if it can find a location with a “free path” of about 100 feet to the river.

Palatka General Services Director Ken Venables said the city would likely split the fairs with ATLAS. Tickets prices are tentatively planned for about $10.

“The ticket price has to be reasonable — we want volume,” Venables said. “I think this could be the biggest thing to hit this area in years. I think we’ll see new business grow from this. I think entrepreneurs will see opportunities that I don’t. And it is certainly going to go beyond Palatka’s borders.”

Peterson said the company plans to build two to three dozen vessels a year, requiring 10 to 15 people working on each boat.

“Imagine the jobs that would bring if he brings the business to Palatka,” Venables said. “And we could be, essentially, his showroom.”

Venables said the hovercraft fleet could transport ambulances with sick passengers inside, allowing a safer, quicker ride to Jacksonville hospitals. He said the vessels have water-pumping capacity that might help extinguish fires on the river and could be used to evacuate people during a hurricane, when roads are often blocked with vehicles.

“The hovercraft is actually going to change the way people are transported during an emergency,” Peterson said. “It provides a faster, safer trip with no traffic and no railroad crossings.”

Venables said the demand for a fleet of the crafts taking people and cars to and from Jacksonville and neighboring communities might not be strong now, but with the city’s expansion, he wants to be ahead of the curve.

“I think we are going to have to create the demand,” he said. “This will open Palatka up.”

Brown agreed.

Peterson’s facility

At the ATLAS plant in Green Cove Springs, workers were busy putting together the first of the hovercrafts being built by the two-year-old company.

It has been ordered by a Chicago businessman to be used for diner cruises from the Navy Pier in the Windy City. It sits on an expanse of concrete at the industrial park ATLAS leases, needing two stories added to its deck and finishing touches completed before it’s ready for Chicago early next year. Peterson said it is constructed with space-age plastics bonded with glue rather than held together with rivets. When it’s finished, it will weigh about 90 tons and feature enough electricity to light two average subdivisions.

“If you didn’t know better you’d think it was made from steel or aluminum, but in reality, it’s an entirely plastic boat.”

Peterson demonstrates the maneuverability of the hovercrafts by controlling a scale model on a table in his large wherehouse, manipulating a joystick to turn the little vessel on a dime, smiling like a child operating a toy boat in a swimming pool.

Peterson said his business is booming. He expects to build between four and six hovercrafts next year and says ATLAS is growing at about 100 percent per quarter.

Other hovercraft uses

“Hovercraft can play a vital role in preventing terrorism because we are the ultimate patrol vessel,” Peterson said. “Hovercrafts can travel over the sea right up to the beach, on the beach and keep going. No other boat in the world can do this. We call it the ultimate Homeland Security vessel.”

The vessels are equipped with thermal imaging devices, allowing operators to travel at full speed in darkness.

“We have two types of radar on our hovercraft,” Peterson said. “One allows us to see the weather and one allows us to see through the weather.”

Peterson has a full-time staff of 20. With partners and satellite businesses, the workforce is about 100.

One facet of the business Peterson stresses is that it builds environmentally friendly vessels.

“Hovercraft technology is unique in that it is the only truly environmentally friendly watercraft in existence,” he said. “It has no propeller, no rudder and no hard structure touching the water when it’s in operation.”

He said the hovercrafts, which are glued together with “super adhesives,” run on soybean-based diesel fuel — a blend of organic and petroleum oils. He said all hydraulics have been eliminated from the vessels.

“Our diesel system from day one is positioned to take advantage of alternative sources,” he said. “We are stewards of the environment and this world. And it’s important for every company to strive to be as environmentally conscience and correct as you can be.”

Peterson said one of Florida’s favorite sea creatures should not fear an approaching hovercraft.

“We are completely benign when it comes to working in habitat with seas creatures like the manatee. You could literally drive over a manatee and he wouldn’t even know your’re there.”

Peterson said the St. Johns River is one of the most underutilized modes of transport in the state.

“I envision the St. Johns being a liquid highway for the entire region,” he said. “It’s just so easy for us to put down some asphalt and build a highway.”

Peterson said hoverports n essentially concrete slabs — are the cheapest docking facilities available.

“We’re not going to eliminate buses, cars or airplanes,” he said. “We are going to enhance and augment existing forms of public and private transportation.”

Peterson said ATLAS takes steps beyond those required by law in building the vessels to ensure their safety and quality.

“Our boats are not cheap,” he said. “Our hovercrafts are the most expensive in the world. But if I can give you a passenger vessel comparable in price to a conventional boat that consumes one-third to one-half the fuel and travels at two to three times the speed, in fuel savings alone an average commercial operator would save $2 to $3 million a year.”

In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

BridgeTroll

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2010, 01:08:21 PM »

Quote
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, FL -- Your daily commute could soon change in a big way. Instead of waiting on backed-up bridges, a First Coast inventor wants to take you underneath them.

The bumper-to-bumper traffic you deal with could one day be someone else's problem.

A Clay County man is building a ferry that would let folks enjoy a relaxing trip to and from work each day -- and they don't have to leave their cars behind.

His solution is a hovercraft.

Full Story...
http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/topstories/news-article.aspx?storyid=45759

In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

blizz01

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2010, 01:16:29 PM »
I really think that were banking on a potential land swap of sorts in Fleming Island - I for one would have loved it.  Another potential spot would have been near the riverfront by the Orange Park Dog Track.....

Quote
Updating Moccasin Slough
Zoning change from recreation park to public ownership already under way
Rezoning signs recently spotted at Moccasin Slough caused a stir among fans of the environmentally sensitive Fleming Island property.
Not to worry, said Clay County officials.
The property's land use and zoning classifications must be updated, under the terms of the state grant that purchased the Slough for the county in 2003. The land use was changed to recreation/preservation in 2006; the zoning change to the public ownership classification is now under way.
The signs are advertising an upcoming Planning Commission hearing on the rezoning, said county Planning Director Mike Kloehn. Up for the same change is Camp Chowenwaw, the former Girl Scout retreat the county purchased in 2006 and opened as a county park in 2007.
Contrary to some residents' fears, there is no move to allow residential or commercial development or otherwise revise the county's plans to create a park at the Slough, Kloehn said.
"People are putting one and one together and getting three," he said. "We used Florida Communities Trust money to buy it. One of the things we have to do under the management plan is have proper zoning."
Also, residents who are protective of the Slough need not worry about an earlier proposal to cut a road through the property, Kloehn said.
In April 2007, Atlas Hovercraft Inc. of Green Cove Springs said it was considering expanding its business from Reynolds Industrial Park to a lakefront parcel behind Moccasin Slough on the west side of U.S. 17. The company approached the Clay County Economic Development Committee, an advisory board for the Clay County Commission, to find out about potential road access to the property through Moccasin Slough.
Kloehn said that idea would not likely pass muster with the management plan or the terms of the state grant. Also, there is simply not enough upland for a road, said county Recreation Director Tom Price.
"There is not a whole lot of land to build on," he said, adding that there was never a formal application for the road and no further discussion about it since Atlas' initial inquiry last year. "I assumed that died on the vine."
The county intends to develop the 255-acre wildlife habitat as a passive nature park and wildlife preserve amid heavily developed Fleming Island, between U.S. 17 and the St. Johns River.
The management plan calls for park facilities including parking and picnic areas, a gazebo with benches, playground and a structure for environmental education programs, all in the southwest part of the site, along Raggedy Point Road. Also planned are an upland trail system and wetland boardwalk trail system with observation decks and a kayak launch.
"All the surveys are done. We're about to finish up with the construction plans," he said. "We haven't put a shovel in the dirt yet."
The property features a prairie, thick woods and freshwater marsh bordering the river between Westover Road on the north and Raggedy Point Road on the south. It is home to numerous waterfowl and two of Florida's oldest species: alligators and bald eagles.
Before its purchase, the southwestern corner of Moccasin Slough was zoned for development of 108 residences.
WANT TO GO?
The rezoning of Moccasin Slough to the public ownership classification is scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the Clay County Planning Commission, which makes recommendations to the Clay County Commission. The 7 p.m. meeting is in the fourth floor meeting room, County Administration Building, 477 Houston St., Green Cove Springs. ~~~FUTURE OF MOCCASIN SLOUGH
The management plan for Moccasin Slough includes a priority schedule of activities. Here is the schedule, according to a report filed in January to the Clay County Commission and the Florida Communities Trust:
- Archeological/historic survey: completed October 2004
- Monitor natural communities, survey species, remove exotic plants: begun April 2005, to be repeated every three years thereafter
- Invasive plant survey: completed August 2007
- Develop retention pond adjacent to Raggedy Point Road and wetlands: June 2008
- Construct park facilities - picnic area, gazebo with benches, playground and parking area: August 2008
- Construct upland trail system: September 2008
- Restore degraded areas and remove muck fill along U.S. 17: December 2008
- Begin part-time staffing for park management and education programs: January 2009
- Provide educational opportunities for the public including interpretive signage, educational programs and guided nature walks: January 2009 and ongoing thereafter
- Construct structure to house environmental education center, meeting area and restrooms: December 2010
- Construct wetland boardwalk trail system: May 2010 to 2014.
http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/020108/nec_242071134.shtml

subro

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2010, 01:22:48 PM »

This link has a photo of the hovercraft and states that the "Project is stalled".

http://www.dejongandlebet.com/996_AtlasHovercraft.htm


RMHoward

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2010, 01:44:31 PM »

This link has a photo of the hovercraft and states that the "Project is stalled".

http://www.dejongandlebet.com/996_AtlasHovercraft.htm



I would say "stalled" is quite an understatement.  From the looks of things, the terms "bankrupt", "in default", etc. come to mind.  Thanks for the information.
Rick

JSquared

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2010, 01:49:20 PM »
Found this on a hovercraft forum:

Quote
Posted 30 April 2008 - 12:43 PM

Group -

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.

My Best,

Kurt

Link is here:  http://www.hoverclubofamerica.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=1216&st=0

RMHoward

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2010, 02:45:41 PM »
That exchange is over 2 years old.  Not sure it sheds any light on the current state of affairs.  Like i said, work stopped out there about 1.5 to 2 years ago.  So, i would expect such conversations to exist, back then.
Rick

fsujax

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2010, 04:17:39 PM »
Out of business!

UpOn2Wheels

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2010, 07:13:25 PM »
I was out at Reynolds a few weeks back, shooting pictures of the new Camaro SS for a review, and what's left of the hovercraft is in sorry shape.  Apparently the owners of the facility don't take kindly to trespassers, either: I didn't get harassed, but I know of others who were run off the property.


cosmic_debris

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2010, 01:48:43 PM »
I realize that I'm joining this conversation several months late, so let me start by saying that I'm an engineer that designed and built hovercraft for the US Navy and commercial customers. My former employer was Textron Marine & Land Systems (formerly, Bell Aerospace). I worked with them for 15 years on the USCG Swift-class SES's, US Navy LCAC's and several commercial/industrial hovercraft programs. I have continued to design small-scale hovercraft as a side job for the last 15 years.

I had the chance to visit Atlas Hovercrafts back 2007. I didn't get to meet Kurt Peterson, but I did get a chance to look around the facility. Compared to what I was used to, it looked like a small time operation. Apart from the engineering offices, there were no "facilities" like the ones I was used to. They were building it out in the open with no environmental controls of any kind, like they were building a float for the homecoming parade! A quick observation told me that this thing probably wouldn't work. In fact, it looked like they just scaled-up the model, without any consideration for increased strength and performance. But I didn't get to see any engineering, so I really don't know for sure what the numbers were. Just a gut feeling.

What's sad about the work stoppage, is that it gives transportation businesses and the general public a bad taste with regard to hovercraft viability as a legitimate source for economical and safe transportation. This is NOT new technology! It has been around successfully for 60 years! There are commercial hovercraft operating all over the world. But it's failures like this that sour people on the concept of air-cushioned transportation. I truly wanted to see them succeed. It would have given a boost to the industry. I don't know what the reasons for the stoppage of work or the chances are for a reboot of the project, but it doesn't appear that it will ever happen. Hopefully, Atlas, or someone, will try again.

Does ANYONE where Kurt Peterson is these days?

civil42806

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2010, 07:11:37 PM »
I was out at Reynolds a few weeks back, shooting pictures of the new Camaro SS for a review, and what's left of the hovercraft is in sorry shape.  Apparently the owners of the facility don't take kindly to trespassers, either: I didn't get harassed, but I know of others who were run off the property.

Reality occured

Ocklawaha

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Re: What happened to Atlas Hovercrafts?
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2010, 09:44:20 PM »
The whole project was doomed anyway, as we have a parallel mainline (spell that 79 mph) railroad along the west side of the river and all of the populated east side from about north Mandarin into town. In both cases the train would have blown the socks off the hovercraft as it pierces the areas where people live-work-play.

Very few people live in the river, and the ones who live along the river certainly don't need ANY transit.

Just imagine that hovercraft at 3 pm on an August Afternoon when the visibility on the river is 100 feet and the lightning is falling like mortar rounds.

What would Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the Marine Patrol, DNR, or River Keeper, say about speed on the river, through the bridges etc...?

I don't think the project is completely "undesirable" but the broad and long route that was envisioned wasn't realistic. JTA needs to look at this again, with perhaps a smaller craft and THINK of how the other rivers could play into the role as opposed to laying out a route that parallels rail.

Certainly not a study but did anyone think about a narrow boat? Perhaps a hydroplane capable craft? Now think of the ORTEGA and clearing the snags from Blanding to Yukon... Uh, as in Argyle, Bellaire, Meadowbrook to NAS JAX? OR? Black Point at NAS JAX to downtown? Cedar River anyone? Arlington River/Pottsburg Creek could be worked as far as BEACH BLVD with bridge alterations. Blount Island? Zoo? Trout River Bridge east to the port? Connecting Timuquana and University Blvd with a cross river shuttle?

It could happen, but not with what is rotting on the Green Cove Springs tarmac.


OCKLAWAHA