Investigation of Hovercraft Operation in Detroit Weather Conditions

Hoback, Alan S.



I-94 on the east side of Detroit will be rebuilt because of deterioration and congestion problems. Traffic congestion will be exacerbated by the rebuilding process, which will last three years. On I-75 between Toledo and Detroit, and on I-94 between Port Huron and Detroit, lane reductions due to reconstruction and maintenance have occurred for several days nearly every construction season in the last 10 years, leading to further congestion and frustration. Additionally, over the next decades the freeway system will become very congested. An alternative mode of travel using comparably priced and fast hovercraft on the river has been investigated. The first step leading to a hovercraft transit line is to evaluate the effects of Detroit’s weather on its operation. The sacrifices that need to be made using hovercraft transit in a cold region are listed in this report. Sacrifices include added maintenance, delay and cancelled service. Depending upon further investigations, hovercraft might need to cancel service more than other transit modes. They might need to cancel service as frequently as ferries do.

Link to full paper


1. American Meterological Society, Glossary of Meterology, Accessed 12/2007.
2. Assel, R., Great Lakes Ice Cover, First Ice, Last Ice, Ice Duration: Winters 1973-2002, NOAA Technical Memorandum GLERL-125, 2003.
3. Atlas,, Accessed 12/2007.
4. Schwab, D, Leshkevich, G, Muhr, G, Automated Mapping of Surface Water in the Great Lakes, J. Great Lakes Res. NOAA 25(3):468–481, 1999. Available at:
5. Dalgety, Conversation with captain of the Blue Water Ferry, 12/2007.
6. Detroit Free Press, Freakish Freeze: Ice Floes Push Lakeshore, March 10, 2007.
7. Dietrich, G, Kalle, K, Krauss, W, Siedler, G, Oceanography, Prentice Hall, 1971.
8. Grady, Wayne (2007). The Great Lakes. Vancouver: Greystone Books and David Suzuki Foundation. ISBN 9781553651970
9. Griffon Hovercraft, Product Range Brochure, 2007.
10. Hindley, K., A breakthrough for Canadian icebreaking, New Scientist. Vol. 78, no. 1104, pp. 502-503. 1978.
11. Hinton, T., Conversation circa 2006.
12. Hovercraft Museum,, Accessed 12/2007
13. NOAA, NOAA Great Lakes Ice Atlas 2003,, Accessed 11/2007.
14. NTD (National Transit Database), Federal Transit Administration, 2006.
15. University of Chicago, Weather World 2010 Project, Accessed 12/2007.
16. NWS (National Weather Service), Monthly Weather Summary,, Accessed 12/2007.
17. USCG Detroit (US Coast Guard-Sector Detroit), Ms. Milette, Conversation July 2007.
18. USCG (US Coast Guard), CGD 09–95–002, 60 FR 35702, July 11, 1995.
19. Wade, R. G., Ten Years Operational Experience of Hovercraft in the Canadian Coast Guard, AIAA-1979-2018, In: Advanced Marine Vehicles Conference, Baltimore, Md., October 2-4, 1979, Technical Papers. (A79-53611 24-85) New York, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., 1979, p. 72-80.
20.,, Accessed 12/2007.
21. Yoder, M., The Chunnel, Florida Geographic Alliance, 2000.