(863) 692-1500

The History of Airboats

From board games to video games, many of the greatest forms of entertainment have drastically evolved since their invention—but few items have made as big of a transformation as airboats. The way they’re designed and even the reason passengers take airboat rides is vastly different from when the watercraft was first invented over a century ago.

What once was used exclusively for testing machinery and researching aquatic life is now a go-to, family-friendly form of Florida recreation, and here’s a look at how it all got started.

The Airboat Prototype

Alexander Graham Bell invented the first airboat in 1905. Nicknamed “The Ugly Duckling,” the first version of these famous watercrafts was very different from the flat, smooth one known today. And, rather than using them for entertainment or sport, Graham Bell used his primary prototype to test various engines and tools for other pieces of equipment.

The First Official Airboat

Although a man named Glenn Curtiss registered the first Florida airboat in 1920, it wasn’t until 1943 that these machines began to take their true shape. Modeling the boats with lightweight aluminum materials, Cecil S. Williams, Leo Young, and G. Hortin Jensen introduced the first airboat model to have both a flat bottom and a seat for the pilot, which inspired the designs for modern versions.

The Introduction of Airboats

As airboats became more popular across the country, scientists began using them for research, and everyday citizens began using them for recreation or transportation. Many people even created homemade versions of the watercraft so that they could easily access their local waters without having to make such a large investment up front.

The Use of Airboats Today

Airboats have come a long way since the first version was designed over 100 years ago. Now, these watercrafts are fast, efficient, and safer for both passengers and aquatic wildlife. They’re a major attraction for Florida locals and visiting tourists, and they’ve even become a standard watercraft for natural disaster relief and water emergencies.

The Best Central Florida Airboat Ride

If you want to learn more about the history of airboats, schedule your airboat ride with the history-rich Grape Hammock Fish Camp. Our airboat captains have extensive experience with their watercrafts and the Florida waters around them. To plan a fun adventure for the whole family, call us today at 863-692-1500 and book your airboat ride.

Scroll to top