NATIONAL CRUISE IS HELD IN MUSCODA, WI!

Carl and Janet Gorsuch prepare breakfast for everyone interested! Thank you!

The Hoverclub of America's National Cruise of 1998 is over and everyone can say it was a true success as it took place on a beautiful weekend made just for hovering the Wisconsin River!

 

Verdon and Vernon Weber brought their newest experiment for display!

Read about the construction and the successful flight of the Weber Wig!

Twelve craft owners and their families showed up at the Victora Park Campground early on Friday, August 21, to get themselves a campsite and get in some early hovering. The only negative note, however, was that the rains hit on Friday evening and sent many small rivers through tents in campsites located throughout the lower flat part of the park (mine was one of them!). A hovernaut may get wet but he does not get damp spirits. During(!) the rain, tents were moved to higher ground and most residents merely stood around having a good laugh about it under any type of shelter available and made do with what clothing and sleeping gear that had stayed dry. Others pulled into their vans and trucks to sleep out the nite.

 
Flipper and Brad wait patiently.   StarCruisers get ready!

The next morning (Sat.) sleeping bags, clothing and mats were hung to dry and a grand weekend began. Eighteen cruisers showed up on Saturday for a beautiful 37 mile cruise upstream on the river, granting us 74 miles of beautiful relaxed cruising.

 
Larry Kirschbaum, SC4, Wisconsin...   Ray Miller, SC4, Pennsylvania

A friend of the club had donated a couple boxes of Brownberry bakery goods for everyone to take on the cruise and I had obtained several canoe maps of the lower Wisconsin River history from the DNR which added a little bit of interest to sites on the river we could use on the cruise.

 
Bob Windt (UH) arrives with kids and Mrs. Zang   John Windt arrives!

The literature and bakery were passed out at the driver's meeting, safety and rules of the river in Wisconsin were discussed, and it was mentioned that some cruisers who got together Friday evening expressed a desire to go on up to the vicinity of Mazomanie and Wisconsin's only nude beach, which has been in the radio, tv and newspaper publicity lately. No one expressed negativity to it and everyone headed upstream for the three bridges along the way, allowing a bit of rest time, eating time and fuel fill ups as the cruise progressed. The GPS owners kept us informed of mileage covered and average cruising speeds as we rested at the Lone Rock Bridge, the Spring Green Canoe Landing and the Spring Green Hwy. 14 Bridge.

 
Dennis Alm and Carol leave for Mazo.   Don Bender prepares to leave boat landing.

The Wisconsin River is noted for its many sandbars--quite unlike rock bars located in other states. The sandbars quite often appear out of nowhere when you're cruising along at 35 or 40 mph, and it's very difficult to see how high the bank of the bar might be from a distance. All sand pretty much looks the same at a distance.

 
Carl and Shane encounter sandbars!   Bob Windt has quick repairs to make.

Approaching at this speed, you sometimes have no choice but to 'take' the bar! This was quickly found out by Carl Gorsuch and rider, Shane Wilkens in his UH13T from Ohio. And as I've come to expect at every cruise, a cruise with Carl is not complete without a good laugh about Carl's antics for the day. Around the campfire Saturday night, Carl quickly explained himself as he retold the day's event. "Coming at the sandbar from a distance I couldn't tell if it was a smooth slide from the water surface or a bank to avoid, and by the time I got there I was between several other crafts and didn't have a choice but to take the sandbar as everyone else was doing. Looked like they were all doing it okay. The only trouble was my share was a pretty steep bank, and I hit her head on with quite a bump removing quite a bit of the bar. Shane hollered at me that he thinks they (the other hovers) probably slowed down! Well, that sandbar don't have a bank anymore! She's smo-o-o-th now!", says Carl laughingly.

 
Dept. Natural Resource Wardens checking...   Following group for complete look at hovers!

Of course, our cruise could not have been complete without a thorough check of the State's fine Department of Natural Resource representatives. Everyone passed inspection. I assume the wardens really had wanted to get a close up look at some many varying types of hovercrafts as we spread out across the entire body of the water with the sun glancing off our ducts.

 
Dave Bouchier and family...   Charlie Feller on his maiden flight with SC4!

A beautiful osprey was seen carrying a relatively large fish (looked like a 24" bass, give or take an inch or two...Don Bender thought it looked like 6 inches!), blue herons lifted off the sandbars, and I personally witnessed an eagle fake an attack on a hover as he went by. Lucky hover! Later Scott Jingra (I believe) saw the osprey attempt a landing in the tree tops to eat his catch, but failed and had to carry the fish on further--out of sight of all of us! What a treat! And actually this pair of osprey in this area are the first I have ever known of on the lower Wisconsin River.

 
Scott Jingra and family leaving for Mazo trip.   Larry Kirschbaum and friend on Mazo trip.

Our maps sited areas along the river which had been small villages in the 1800s and trading posts with the Indians. In fact, the very campground and boat landing where we stayed is just downstream from Gosey's Hole, a site of a lead smelter for processing ore in the 1880s. After smelting, the lead was loaded on flat boats and sent to St. Louis. It was named Gosey's Hole because a man named Gosey drowned here while loading one of the flat boats.

 
What it looks like to look back!   Ray and Mrs. Zang on way to Mazo nude beach!

One of the nation's first female doctors, Dr. Bertha Reynolds, was born near Lone Rock and practiced in the community. One day when the river was so high she was unable to cross, she called on a pilot practicing take-offs and landings at the nearby airport to take her to her patient. Charles Lindbergh gladly obliged. I had heard this story in my early childhood and was very surprised to see it on our map! Guess I probably never believed everything I heard as a child!

 
5 StarCruisers and Gorsuch UH13T..   Vernon and Shelly approaching sandbar!

Almost everyone arrived in the vicinity of the beach with no problems, although a few drivers had flown right on by the beach before they realized they were there and made a quick backtrack! While the crafts parked on the sandbars, Flipper 2 and varying drivers decided to make a few passes between the sandbars and beach area, and one of the female beach occupants who began wading out into the water to the hover told a driver she thought he was quite a cute little boy! Blushing, he came back fast! We more or less had a little playfulness left in us and did a 'fly by' for the occupants of the beach as we left!

 
Flipper took a few passes by the beach!   Line Up at Spring Green 23 Bridge for lunch!

The cruise proceeded back to Muscoda a bit later than expected...but everyone agreed it was really a worthwhile trip and the scenery was spectacular!

 

Ray Miller had to fly back a bit early to meet an aunt of a fellow retired teacher who drove all the way from Dodgeville with her girlfriend to ride in Ray's hover! Now it turned out that this aunt of a friend of Ray's in Pennsylvania had also been a very dear neighbor of mine several years ago in another part of Wisconsin! And we had a surprise time of reminiscing.

Take a look at Ray Miller's story about an aunt of a friend in Slippery Rock who's aunt actually was an old time friend of mine, also!

A few stories were told around the campfires that nite, including that of someone 'drop testing' a Sportsman hover from 10 ft.!! And it worked! Bob Windt had lost a hover just before starting out from home on Friday, as a craft had literally dropped out of the tree where he had it anchored, preparing to drive the van under it for loading on top. But he said it would be okay once it got patched up again!

 
Morning wake up call before the crowd...   Damion (or Brad?) take 4x8 out for a fly!

The general public turned out in 'droves' to view the hovercrafts (and receive many rides from those willing to spend their time and fuel to spread the sport of hovering).

Shane, Brad and Damion brought the 4x8 for display and fun. The kids who came to see the big hovers really enjoyed watching the 4x8 fly!

Two editors of local newspapers covered the two-day cruise and Dennis Alm taped interviews of manufacturers and hovercraft owners for Public Access TV in Minnesota. The Hoverclub really got attention in lower Wisconsin this weekend!

 

Dennis Alm is a new hover owner and recently joined the club. In his spare time when he's not hovering or working as Northwest Airlines' favorite mechanic (he always has stories to relate about hovering around St. Paul, MN), he enjoys working at the public access television station. Just recently a colleague from the television station asked for a hover ride, and Dennis took her out so she could do some film from the hover for a piece on Public Access TV Outdoors located in Roseville, MN. Christie Schmidt got brave enough to try her hand at flying the hover and although she was a bit concerned about no brakes, she soon was a novice at driving, enjoying every minute.

 
Andy Pittman takes maiden flight with SC4!   Don Bender leaves for Boscobel bridge!

Sunday's cruise was not as eventful as Saturday--but then again how do you measure up to that?! We stopped at the Boscobel Bridge as we did in 1997, but the sandbar that had let us all park and enjoy the shade of the bridge in 1997 had now moved downstream, and everyone either ate and played in the warm water or went across river and visited and ate in the boat landing park where it was shaded.

 
Line up at Boscobel sand bar...   Challenger on speed run...

Bob Windt, Bill and Bob Zang, and Brad, Damion and Shane dove under anyone's hover who wished to have their skirt contact checked. The water was relatively nonthreatening, as it remained calm and smooth, inviting everyone in for a dip.

 
Dave's craft has its skirt checked out by UH and kids...   Challenger goes for a contact check...
Vernon Weber places SC4 over kids to have skirt contact checked!

A special point of interest as you pass under the Boscobel bridge is the stone outcrop one-third of the way up the bluff on the right. A cross on the top marks it as the site of Easter Rock where early settlers conducted Easter Sunrise services. The rock is composed of Jordan sandstone. In 1887 the voyage of Marquette Joliet was retraced by 19th century historian Reuben Thwaites, and in his writings, reports of "A dead little river hamlet...The bluff...is a quarry of excellent hard sandstone, and a half dozen men were dressing blocks for shipment, on the rocky shore above us..." In the Central Hotel of Boscobel in 1898n a traveling salesman shared his Bible with another lonely traveler and the idea for the Gideon Society was born. The area is relatively chocked full of history.

 
Jingra's Challenger   Charlie and Chad Feller in SC4!
 
Doc (Gary) and Pat Bowden in AiRider   Charles Feller (Sr) in Platform Hover

The cruisers returned to Muscoda and most everyone was loaded and moving out of the park by 6:00 p.m. The drivers and owners of crafts who provided rides to the many members of the public or graciously answered questions to the curious onlookers should receive a warm 'THANK YOU!' from the other members of our club for their untiring enthusiasm for hovercrafting. We realize it could and probably was slightly stressful at times with so many hovers involved and the public turning out in great numbers, but we gained new members to the Club.

 
Bob's UH19P (reverse thrust prop)   Verdon and Linda leave

The Muscoda, WI, area is very pleased with the gathering and the business that the group provided the local vicinity, as well as the quiet moving in and out of our hover group, leaving not a trace of anyone ever being there.

 

Several drivers expressed a wish to return to the same area next year, saying that there is a lot of river yet to be explored--perhaps taking a longer tour downstream to the Mississippi River area. Bob Windt expressed his opinion that he feels the river is ideal for hovering, the members of the families involved can feel safe playing in the water, the law enforcement did an excellent job of cruising the area routinely, the campgrounds were exceptional at providing very inexpensive camping complete with electricity and showers and the scenery can't get any better anywhere else!

 
Flipping off of Bob's fingers...   into the warm water at Boscobel!

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