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?