The sleek design of the hover skateboard Marty McFly road in the “Back to the Future” series may be fictional, but the technology isn’t. If two Ahwatukee Foothills brothers have their way every teenager just might have their own hoverboard by 2015.
Jim Pitts has been obsessed with hover crafts ever since he saw the first one appear on a show called “That’s Incredible.”
“I said I’ve got to have one,” he said. “The first chance I had to get one 20-some years later, I grabbed it.”
Pitts has been welding, painting and doing bodywork since he was a young boy so even though the first hovercraft he bought needed considerable work, he was up for the challenge. He rebuilt the hovercraft and that experience inspired him to see what else he could apply the technology to.
Pitts built his first hoverboard in the late ’90s, but the technology at the time was large, loud, dangerous and costly. He knew his invention would never go anywhere.
Today, technology has caught up with Pitts’ vision. With help from his brother, Wallace, he has taken the same technology used on a hovercraft but found more efficient models and attached it to a board the size of a longboard.
The first prototype of the HoverSkater, Pitts’ skateboard, hovercraft hybrid, wasn’t easy to create but it proved the concept. The board is turned on with a remote. A rubber skirt on the bottom of the board fills with air and lifts up to 300 pounds off the ground. The person on the board floats on a paper-thin layer of air. Wheels on each side of the board don’t touch the ground when the board is on but help the rider keep their balance if they lean too far in one direction. The board doesn’t look like the one in “Back to the Future,” but the concept is the same.
“It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s new,” said Aiden Ewing, who has tested the board. “It is more difficult than a skateboard even just to keep the bubble balanced. It’s more of a challenge, which I like... You can feel that you’re off the ground and just floating on that bubble.”
The prototype HoverSkater weighs about 50 pounds and cost thousands to make by hand but Pitts is hoping to get enough money through Kickstarter to manufacture a sleeker 16-pound board that can be sold at retail for around $1,500. He approached InventHelp in California with his product and the company says they’ve got seven major manufacturers interested in producing it.
Pitts has several ideas for improving the HoverSkater once it gets to manufacturing. He’d like to add a handle bar or seat to make it easier for inexperienced riders to ride. He’s also working on a marine version.
The HoverSkater will be manufactured for sale five to 15 weeks after the initial deposit of $20,000 is raised. For more information, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1862772184/hoverskater.
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