Every year I say this: the Wisconsin River was high, guess we weren't disappointed again! Seems Morel Fest brings out the worst in the river! Last year Ray Matthews took the trophy for the most rides given (and unplanned!) and did the same this year! Seems he would rather give rides than cruise with us......!!

We expected a good turnout from the preliminary survey I took on Hoverlovers, but we didn't expect 25 crafts!! Awesome bunch of hovers and displays, including the following:

Bob and Kyle Zang.....   Kyle Zang--the future owner/operator/test driver of Universal Hovercrafts!
Bob relives old times when he grew up with the 6F!`   Kyle moving on to something a bit larger!
There were lots of RCs around...these are from Bob & Kyle..   Doug Birlingmair readies his craft...
  Katie Birlingmair - our hostess with the mostest!!!
Katie decides to try out Dad's Craft on her own!   DuWayne Carlin - 1st StarCruiser for him - 1st time on water
The Hover Bus was awesome....   a little bit of prop problems
and she was up for static display!   The gathering...we put on 100s of miles of cruising!
The Edge really flew on water too!   Verdon Weber brought his Skirtless Wonder to Muscoda...
Read all about it in Hovernews!   Unbelievable how a rectangular object can hover 4 to 5 inches high!
Verdon was all set up for passengers...   But apparently no takers! hahahaha!
Lifting with a 23 hp Briggs and pushing with   a 10 hp speed was around 45 mph.
The dam was rushing water as we approached it   and while I chose to park on the bank and watch
Vernon Weber and Mike Courtney went picture taking!   That was Mike in front of the 'falls' and this is me parked!
Ray Matthews, Terri Matthews, Shelly Penberthy....   The lineup
Terry Tousignant and his 18SP...says next year he'll have wings!   This 18SP was ready to fly after a few wet flights without wings
  A couple good speed runs to warm the engines...
and   LIFT OFF! What a presentation!!!
Vernon Weber giving rides to Voycek Miezal...   And the end of the weekend with Denny Sornson giving new thoughts on old ideas to bystanders!

Doug Birlingmair Relates the Events of the Weekend!

Muscoda, May 14-16, 2004 

Well, another Morel Fest has come and gone. My 7yo daughter Katie and I pulled in around 6:30pm on Friday.  Kind of overcast and chilly, but I did hear Dave Lacombe go flying by on his 58 mph speed run!  Shortly after that, about 10 of us (Dave Lacombe, Dennis Alm and Carol, Ray Matthews (and wife?), and others I don’t know) all went into town to have dinner.  When we got back, we unloaded my hover and just had time to set up camp, roast a few marshmallows, and turn in.  38 degrees that night!  Brrr!

Next morning there was a thick fog covering everything.  I talked a while with Vernon Weber who dropped by with his Starcruiser.  We discussed Verdon’s skirtless hover – what a concept.  By about 9 the fog had burned off and things got going.  There was a family from Georgia (I’m terrible with names) that brought an Italian (?) craft (the one that blew the engine last year), as well as a smaller UH design with a 6hp lift and 10hp thrust.  That craft would do a solid 30mph, as I paced him once down river.  There was another family from Delavan, Wi (only 7 miles from my home!), that had three craft – a UH18SPW, a blue homebuilt design, and the Hover Bus.  That was about 20 feet long, with a 19hp lift, and Soob thrust.  Basically a flat platform with three rows of seating.  Very nicely done.  They took some folks out for rides a couple times.  They had a small problem when they broke off a rudder on the 18SP on the ramp, but had it fixed in a couple hours.  Dave LaCombe with Oblio, as well as his friend Terry (?) with another UH18SP. 

Lots of Starcruisers, I think Ray was giving rides most of the day!  Dan Brewer from Richland Center stopped by, he bought a used 12T4 and is fixing it up for flying. Verdon took his “Skirtless Wonder” out a few times – that is something to see.  When the angle is right you can look clear under his craft through the other side!  There were a couple of cruises up and down river; I didn’t go due to fuel capacity.  So, I answered a LOT of questions from the public (“Are they for rent?”  “How much do they cost?”, “How can these boats go up the ramp from the river?” (My favorite.  When I told him they rode a cushion of air, he got a look of wonderment on his face and said “No S**t?”)).  My craft was running like a Swiss watch, I did a speed run and saw 41 mph.  Craft were going in and out almost constantly!  Late in the day we were “invaded” by 7 Zodiac boats from the WCF (Waterborne Canadian Forces?  Wisconsin Cheese Fanatics?  Oh, yes, Wisconsin Conservation Force!), they spent a couple hours pulling their boats out and went somewhere?  Dennis Sorensen showed with his Sevtec, but never saw water due to a fuel problem.  Saturday ended with fireworks over the boat ramp, and lots of campfire talk.

Sunday promised to be better than Saturday, with temps in the 70’s, and clear skies.  Hovers were leaving the ramp by 7:30am!  Dan Brewer returned with his brother (forgot the name, Dave?) and asked if I’d give him his first hover ride.  Not a problem!  He was grinning from ear to ear as we flew down the ramp and transitioned over the water!  The river was up another three inches, so most of the bars that were there yesterday were gone, but I found one to fly over.  I could see him bracing as I approached at 25mph, then we were over and back on water.  He was yelling and grinning away like the Cheshire cat!  We were almost back when my lift engine shorted out due to spray and we plowed in pretty good – kinda like a strong brake in a car.  Got it started and made it back to the ramp, where I charged my battery and dried things off.  I don’t think the smile left his face all day! 

Later, Dave Lacombe returned riding with Dave Schneider in his 13P, so something was up.  He told me his pulley mount collapsed and his hover was on a boat ramp a few miles upstream.  Dan and I followed him to help load it up.  We put it on cushion and with a 20foot running start pushed it right up on his trailer nice as you please!  His pulley mount had broken a weld, mount collapsed, prop reduced to splinters, radiator damage, but no injuries.  Dave said he’d use this as an excuse to upgrade his drivetrain.  There’s dedication! (or obsession?).

Sunday afternoon, people started to leave.  I did a couple more short runs, and then loaded up about 1pm.  After chatting with Dennis Sorenson some more, we pulled out about 2pm and headed home.  All in all, a super weekend!

Doug BirlingmairElkhorn, WI.

More Stories to Come!


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