Flying Foam by Colin Hilton

By Colin Hilton

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Though I had thought the flying contract the previous summer would be a one-off, now a whole series of one-offs were in prospect. I took another in June 2004 with a Dutch airline operating in Germany and renewed an acquaintance with the Airbus. In the meantime I had decided the only way I was going to market the platform I had devised for a flying vehicle was as a boat, albeit faster than any other. I continually revised the outline of the side panels and registered the name of ‘hydroblade’ to describe them, because at the time I considered manufacturing these alone in the shape of vertical boards attached to either side of a space frame that formed the chassis.

In fact its only value was that it had convinced me that there was some mileage in the concept and taught me how to put it together. Nothing in life is wasted, not even an afternoon in Stevenage. I was convinced though that out there somewhere model outboard motors did exist, and eventually I 50 GerMANY, AuG 2004 rIver rhINestONe COWBOY found a firm in America that made them, yet the details were blocked by the company firewall. Feeling like a laboratory rat separated from its cheese by Perspex, I gave up and drove to Kevelaer instead where at least there was a model shop.

The airport authorities actually wanted us out, but they left us with electrical power and a water supply on the understanding that we did not ‘officially’ exist, which was a very German solution to the problem, as anyone who has lived there would know, for at least it tidied up the paperwork. On October 14th however the airline collapsed, which for my project was like the implosion of the 60 GerMANY, AuG 2004 rIver rhINestONe COWBOY Soviet Union. Its death throes lasted a week, and after assembling in the sunshine for a meeting with administrators (which in our best clothes felt like either a wedding or funeral, I was not sure which) I overloaded the car and returned home.

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