A hovercraft (air-cushion vehicle, ACV) is a vehicle capable of traversing over surfaces, and is supported by a high-pressure, slow moving air cushion, which gets ejected against the surface lying below.
Though the principles behind hovercrafts and hovering were first mentioned by Emanuel Swedenborg in 1716, Sir Christopher Cockerell, an English electronic engineer was given the credit for inventing the modern day hovercraft in 1956.
Cockerell graduated in engineering in 1931 and in 1935 he joined Marconi Company and worked on development of radar and airborne navigational equipment. In 1950 he set up his own boat-hire business and this was when the idea of lifting the boat on cushion of air above water occurred to him. In 1954 he experimented with tin cans, kitchen scales and a vacuum cleaner for showing that the required lift could be produced by pressurized air directed properly. He made a working model from balsa wood, using an aircraft engine for power next year. This ultimately led to the invention of hovercraft.
Hovercrafts are used as specialized transports worldwide. They can be used for emergency purposes especially after a natural disaster. As they have the support of an air cushion, hovercrafts are unique and can travel equally well over water, land and ice.
Passenger or sport services use small hovercrafts while giant hovercrafts have military and civilian applications, and are used for transporting cars, tanks, and huge equipment in hostile environments.