Russian hovercraft – snow-friendly sailing through wild winter

It is the season for getting your skis and skates out, but if you are looking for a faster way to get around, you might want to check out the winter hovercraft.

­Invented by Russian aviation engineers, it glides over the snow at speeds of over 100 km per hour.

Russia's snowdrifts in the winter or impassable slush in the spring can make life hard for many. But the winter hovercraft allows one to go just about everywhere.

This Russian hovercraft’s name is Gerris, which in Latin represents “water striders.” The expression does a good job at describing what the vehicle can do. From gliding over the water's surface to plowing through snow or mud – almost nothing can stop Gerris.

The Russian water strider can travel at speeds of up to 150 kilometers per hour, making it ideal as a snappy runabout or a head-turning hobby.  Its price tag, however, is a hefty $20,000.

 “One man from Siberia bought it. He says his house is on one side of the Lena River, his banya is on the other. He says ‘I am so lazy to travel over, with Gerris it's so easy!’" said head of Gerris, Vladimir Kurilov. “Another lives in Kazakhstan – for its steppes Gerris is also great.”

Gerris was designed by former aviation engineers in the town of Zhukovsky, home to Russia's annual international air show. Hence its many similarities with its winged brothers.

Its features – and they are patented already – are great handling and improved safety,” the hovercraft’s engineer, Yury Prybylsky explained. “It has got a very powerful roll cage; even if you capsize, all you are going to get is lots of adrenaline. Even if you run into something, you will not hit the windshield.”

There are currently only four Gerris hovercrafts in the world. But soon, its creators say, it could become as common as scooters or bicycles.

There are plans to start mass production next year,” Kurilov said. “Now we are looking for sponsors and facilities. As for those who want one – they are queuing already.”