Started in 2005, the vision for Green Cove Springs-based company ATLAS Hovercraft Inc. was to construct commercial hovercraft to transport passengers on the St. Johns River and other local waterways. The hovercraft could be used for emergency services as well. Their webscription of the company read:
“ATLAS Hovercraft, Inc. is an American owned, Florida based, corporation engaged in the design and manufacturing of air cushion vehicles more commonly known as hovercraft. Kurt H. Peterson is the president and senior hovercraft design engineer. Mr. Peterson has professional and personal history in the aviation and marine industries. In addition, he is a seasoned professional who gained a great deal of experience working for major corporations in the technology and transportation fields. His experience, talents, and technology are the foundation blocks that built ATLAS Hovercraft and his vision of the future guides the company to new horizons.
ATLAS Hovercraft, Inc. is positioned to become the largest hovercraft design and manufacturing company in the world. The air cushion vessels designed by Kurt H. Peterson possess advanced features that overcome many of prior hovercraft shortcomings such as low maneuverability, high maintenance costs and high noise. A hovercraft has the unique ability to travel over land or water on a bubble of air. The basic scientific principles and concepts that make a hovercraft work are over 100 years old. The technology to make hovercraft viable for military and commercial applications, however, did not exist until the mid 1950’s. Since the 1960’s, hovercraft have been built worldwide for military, commercial passenger service, and recreation purposes.”
Each vessel was estimated to be between 100-125 feet long and cost approximately $10 million each to construct. They had to hoped to get a port up and running in Palatka by Spring 2007. On a hovercraft forum, Kurt Peterson gave an update on the project in April 2008 which reads:
“Hello! I’m still here and busy as ever!
The AH-100-P is finally in the home stretch. Good things take time and this build is no exception. However, I can say that what we have learned from building this Hovercraft is now being incorporated into the New Hovercraft for 2008, 2009. The basic look will remain the same, but the changes are more internal and a function of manufacturing process than overall design.
The crew is smoothing out the exterior for paint while windows and doors are ready for installation. Most of the major system components are in place and there is a lot of wiring and plumbing going on. Working out these details on a “First Craft” is not an easy task! The R&D Department is also busy refining various aspects of the AH-100-P Hovercraft and working on some very interesting new applications. Confidentiality Agreements prevent me from giving you too many details in a public forum. Please keep in mind I do not intend to be evasive, but we are actively working with commercial and government interest projects concerning air cushion technology.
I will put together some recent pictures and post them.”
That was the final update. Due to lack of funding and quite possibly a whole lot of other problems we may not know about, the only thing remaining of the project is an empty shell which sits out at Reynolds Field.