I wonder what kids now 12 or 13 imagine as part of their future, their 2050s, 60s,  and beyond.  I expected the beginning of the 20th century to bring flying cars, routine trips among the planets, and a whole different looking fleet than what we have.  Of course, who knows if what we have and will have is what we need.  But I digress.  Hydrofoils just have not evolved as expected a half century ago.  Previous posts I’ve done on the subject are here.

Actually hydrofoil history goes back more than 100 years and Alexander Graham Bell was a pioneer.  Another key developer seems to be Helmut Kock (or Koch).   The entire 20th century brought all kinds of research and craft.  All the following photos and clippings come compliments of Capt. Ray Graham, US Navy vet and former hydrofoil captain in his native New York City’s sixth boro as well as in Florida and  Vermont.  The photo below shows the original Albatross in Shelburne (Burlington) in 1966.   I realize this is 20/20 hindsight, but it seems risky to hang that name on any innovation.

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After driving hydrofoils in New York and Vermont, Ray went to Miami,

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where the next few photos were taken.

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Here are Ray’s words:  [Later] “I left hydrofoils in Miami because I could see the end coming.  I hired on as a Captain running a double decker sightseeing boat out of Haulover Docks on the Intracoastal Waterway.  When an opening came I applied for and got a job with the City of Miami as an Assistant Dockmaster at one of their Marinas.”

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Here are undated images of prototypes clipped from various magazines and newspapers.  Click on this photo gallery from the International Hydrofoil Society for many, many more photos.

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Click here for more on Grumman’s Denison.   Click here for an early 1970s paper on the perceived future on hydrofoils on the open ocean.

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Left to right here . . . Miss USA 1966, a hydrofoil “stewardess,”  and Capt. Ray Graham, after an exciting tour of the harbor on then-“the latest” in transportation.

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Click here for a range of info on hydrofoils and hydroplanes.   Click here for an “I don’t know what it is” vessel that visited the sixth boro back in 2007 . . . and I missed it, heard about it the next day.

Seriously, what astounds me about this technology is how thoroughly it has disappeared, at least from the US Northeast, my perspective.  As I looked for info on hydrofoils on Lake Champlain, e.g., this (about halfway through the article) new use of “hydrofoil” come up.

When I asked Capt. Graham why hydrofoils have mostly disappeared here, he opined that “they all died of the same disease, mismanagement.” He added, “starting off carrying passengers was a mistake;  it might have been better carrying light freight across the Sound and up and down the Hudson.”

I asked if he thought today’s catamarans were an evolution of this generation of hydrofoils, he said, “They’re a horse of a different color entirely, in my opinion.  When I worked testing the air cushion vehicle (ACV) for General Dynamics, we had a smaller boat (16′) configured like a catamaran, known to us as “hard walled” or “hard sided” which had to be rigged with a lift engine.   [But after a year] General Dynamics dumped the whole project . . .  we were all laid off,  returned to jobs in the Electric Boat division.  In my opinion, today’s catamaran ferries are more offspring of ACVs than hydrofoils.”

Many thanks to Ray for sharing these photos, stories, and opinions.

Click here for a post I did a few years back with a photo showing the ignominious end of Plainview AGEH-1.

 

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