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Everything Was Up in the Air for the Aeromobile-200 Until the 1962 International Trade Fairs

Dr. William R. Bertelsen a country MD, who was a pioneer of air-cushioned vehicles, was an inventor with wide-reaching interests who designed and produced the “Aeromobile-200.” The hovercraft was constructed at the Bertelsen Manufacturing Co. located in Neponset, Illinois, in the late-1950s to early-’60s. The first version of the vehicle can be viewed at the National Air and Space Museum.

Pictured (above) in the lead image is the second version powered by a 200 h.p. engine that consumes 9.5 gallons of gasoline an hour and drives a peripheral jet, which allows it to hover in the air. Four other separate jets allowed for steering the machine.

The third version contained in photos (above and below) was chosen by the US Department of Commerce to represent the US in the 1962 International Trade Fairs.

As an operating exhibit, it is known that the “Aeromobile” attended events held in Turin, Italy in 1961, followed by Tokyo, Japan and New Delhi, India in 1962. This version of the craft with more attractive lines was constructed complete with an enclosed cockpit and headlamps. The cost of the vehicle when shown in Turin was stated to be $7,2oo that is the equivalent of $183,750 today.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photographs or can add to the story. The lead image is courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


13 responses to “Everything Was Up in the Air for the Aeromobile-200 Until the 1962 International Trade Fairs

  1. If the hovercraft’s cruising speed was 60 mph, fuel mileage would be just over 6 mpg, about the same as the average Class 8 semi. Maybe that’s one reason it didn’t catch on.

  2. It appears like there are leaves in what must be the intake vents along the side of the vehicle in picture 1 above. Wonder how many leaves you have to suck up before you’re just scraping by?Even if they could improve the gas mileage, the noise factor would make air cars a non-starter. Clean, silent anti-gravity for me.

  3. We saw a photo once in Popular Mechanix of a guy who took a huge truck inner tube
    and mounted a motor and propeller to it.It hoovered about 4 in off the ground.Im guessing this was in the early 70s.
    Ed Roth(Big Daddy) turned a Triumph motorcycle engine on its side and used it to power some kind of hover contraption.Being mounted horizontally the sump in the engine was starved of oil and the engine seized up and exploded at a car show, sending chunks of
    of engine and propeller into the crowd…
    With all due respect Dude was really more of a artist than he was a mechanic cuz rarely do the twain meet.

  4. Ahhh the Aeromobile. I don’t know who built the one in the first photo here, but I can assure you the Aeromobile in the other images certainly was not built in Illinois. It was actually built in Detroit, Michigan. The car was built by a company known as Creative Industries of Detroit and the Aeromobile can be seen on page 35 of my book, “Creative Industries of Detroit–The Untold Story of Detroit’s Secret Concept Car Builder” (published by CarTech and available on Amazon). The Aeromobile can also be seen in clay on page 132 of my book along with the display in Japan. It can be seen again being demonstrated in Zagreb on page 133 of my book.

    I will also tell you that Creative Industries’ General Manager and President, Rex Terry went along on a couple of the exhibitions. He can be seen pictured with the car in Japan on page 35. I met Dr. Bertlesen at an SAE conference in Southern California many years ago. A very enthusiastic, knowledgable and nice fellow. He had some other hover car ideas that never got built, but were quite interesting.

    As for Ed Roth’s Rotar… hmmm. Loved the looks of it and the concept, but I can also tell you I was there at Cobo Hall in Detroit when they lit Rotar up at a car show. And yes, as someone said, Rotar seized up and threw chunks and a propeller out into the crowd. As I recall a lady was hit and very seriously wounded. I never saw Rotar again.

    No idea where the (Creative Industries-built) Aeromobile is today. It would be nice to see it again.

  5. I saw a hover car on a T.V show back in the late 50’s or early 60’s. I think it was on what’s my line. It seems like the big problem was stopping the thing.

  6. I saw a hovercar in 1972 at a high school stadium in Austin Texas. It had two VW engines, front and rear, each one driving a huge fan. Neither fan was vertical, both were mounted at slight angles with each fan tilted toward the center of the car. The car was orange on white, University of Texas colors and looked like a giant tennis shoe. It had Experimental stenciled on each side and possibly had other lettering too. The car was hovered off of the trailer and onto the parking lot. The driver was a disabled man minus one arm but that didn’t prevent him from driving it. He said it couldn’t be driven on the street because of the way it turned corners and then showed us, it swung wide on each turn as if fish-tailing like in a car on gravel. I don’t remember how fast it was just that he had some trouble keeping it going in a straight like because the parking lot and stadium were built on a hill.

  7. Back in the late 1950’s my dad took my brother and I to see the Aeromoble at the Kewanee National Guard Armory in Kewanee IL. just seven miles from Neponset. It was in the winter and the craft was run inside on the basketball court. I don’t remember to much about it but that the smoke and the noise were to much we didn’t stay long.

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