Walking On Air

23 Apr

letter So my daughter and I built a hovercraft this weekend.

<<pause for effect>>

I can’t even tell you how cool it feels to be able to write that sentence with a straight face. No kidding. We built a hovercraft… together… a real, working hovercraft… in the backyard… that works… together.

If you do a quick google search you’ll quickly find that building a backyard hovercraft isn’t as impressive as all that. There are a thousand “how to” guides out there, most of which can be boiled down to:

“Get a 4′ circle of plywood, a leaf blower, a garden chair, a coffee can lid and a shower curtain. Put ’em all together and you get a hovercraft.”

The entire endeavor doesn’t cost much more than $150 (and the better part of a day… which could cost you alot more if your wife was counting on you helping with the kids). I’ll spare you the step-by-step which, in truth, could be pieced together on your own from the pictures.


The salient point here is that this weekend my daughter and I built a hovercraft together in our backyard.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing those words in print.

Our nextdoor neighbor wandered over towards the end of the project to see what all the commotion was about. “Wow,” he said. “A hovercraft. Why? Is it a school project?”

Nope. No school project. No scouting badge. We built a hovercraft just because we could.


As I’ve said before, on projects like these I go out of my way to make sure that the kids do as much of the work (with my guidance) as possible. So I was keen to get the powertools into my daughter’s hands. These are, of course, important life lessons. It’s easy to take measuring-tape-fluency for granted, but for a 7-year-old, managing that thing can be a little tricky. Pulling out the perfect lengths of gorilla tape… putting marks in just the right place… figuring out why plumber’s tape looks nothing like scotch tape… These are all very profound for a 1st grader. Then there’s the powertools. She loved the jigsaw and the staple gun. The power drill was tricky, but she got the hang of it with my help. The skillsaw though, that was just a little too intense for her.

It was a great opportunity to teach a little safety, and send a great message:

Powertools are for girls too.

Of course the real benefit of the whole experience is not having a working hovercraft to ride. The real value is in the time spent together. She’s growing up too fast. Her social schedule rivals my social schedule in my 20’s. When she’s home her younger brothers are constantly in orbit and her friends are starting to have more daily influence on her than I do. In short: she and I needed this.

That, and now I can say we built a real hovercraft in our backyard.

But more importantly, she can say it too.



-Dork Dad


23 Responses to “Walking On Air”

  1. bernicky April 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Simply awesome way to spend a few hours on the weekend. Congrats.

  2. braith an' lithe April 23, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Yay for dads that encourage girls to use tools!

  3. my27stars April 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    What a wonderful way to spend some quality time with your daughter! 🙂

  4. Michelle Thomson April 23, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    Charming post. You really built a hovercraft… very impressive. I think that’s something your daughter can boast about for years to come. Lucky girl has a cool “dorky” dad.

  5. R. Lynn April 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Very cool daughter and dad project. I can see you both really enjoyed it.

  6. Amateur Idiot / Professional Dad April 24, 2013 at 7:36 am #

    That is awesome! I’m thinking “jet-pack” next.

  7. Chris Hall April 24, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    WOW! Very cool.

  8. kjysten April 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    OMG! You’ve done it now. You empowered her. Do you realize that she’ll grow up to be a competent, self-assured, fearless woman who takes no S#@! from anyone? Do you realize how hard it will be for her to find a man who matches up to the uber-dad who raised? Do you realize that she’ll fix her own toilets, repair her own cars, and be self-sufficient? Everything a modern woman SHOULD be? Good for you!!!!! :>

  9. Claude Walrath April 24, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Reblogged this on Claude Walrath and commented:
    Dorkdaddy.com is a blog about a father raising his children in the “dork tradition” this post is about him and his daughter building a hovercraft, and yes there is video proof that it worked!

  10. Claude Walrath April 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    This is awesome. I hope you don’t mind that I reblogged this.

    • dorkdad April 24, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      Of course not. (c:


  11. josefkul April 24, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    I must have this! Providing video evidence was just icing on the floating cake. Fantastic post!

  12. austinja April 25, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Quit making the rest of us look bad! Very cool man.

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