Riding on Water!

Airboats are flat-bottomed water vessels popular in the Florida Everglades as a means of transport through the swamps and marshes. These boats have an aircraft-type propeller and use either aircraft or automotive engine. Powerful boats, they can have a glass bottom – preferred for eco-tourism – or an aluminum body.

How they work

The airboats have powerful propellers that produce a column of air towards the rear part of the boats to move them forward. Meanwhile, steering is done through vertical rudders that work using forced air. Because of these mechanisms, the airboats can only travel forward and steered to the left or right but can never move in reverse. These boats do not have brakes, too. Thus, the operation of these vehicles requires skill and knowledge.

Moreover, the propeller and the engine of the boats must be kept free from debris and objects (i.e., clothing, wildlife, branches, etc.) because when anything aside from water keeps in contact with the whirling propellers, the spray of material will damage the engine and boat, and can cause damage to passengers. To prevent such accidents, most of the time, the engines and the propeller are protected by a metal cage.


Today, airboats are being used for different purposes. At the Florida Everglades and Louisiana Bayou, these vessels are used for ecotourism. These are also used for hunting, fishing, and bowfishing. Also, these vehicles are great options as rescue vessels during floods and various rescue operations. In fact, in the recent decade, airboats have saved the lives of millions of people all over the world and numerous articles about these boats have been written in journals, magazines, and books. These vehicles are also used as patrol boats by the military.