What Are Airboat Rides?

An airboat ride is a ride on a small, flat-bottomed boat with a large caged propeller. These boats are usually used in the tourism industry to explore the Florida Everglades and other waterways where the water is too shallow for a traditional propeller boat. They are also called fanboats.

Airboats propel themselves forward by using the fan to create a jet of air that shoots out behind the boat. The propeller is purposely placed in a cage to prevent people or wildlife from injuring themselves and damaging the propeller. The operator of the boat sits on a raised platform to improve their visibility and allow them to steer. To steer the vessel, rudders in the rear of the boat are attached to a stick at the operator's side. Airboats do not have brakes, and can reverse only for short distances.

The first airboat was developed in 1905 in Canada by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. Airboats were first registered in Florida in the 1920s and homemade boats were used for fishing and hunting. Today they are often used as part of ecotourism excursions. These boats are often used in the Indian River Lagoon of Florida, the Kissimmee River, the St. John's River, and the Louisiana bayous.