Where in the World are these airboats? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Where in the World are these airboats?

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December 3, 2002

What happens when you add a 650 carburetor and a supercharger to an airplane engine? Paul Dixon can only describe it like this.

"It's the most fun you'll have with your clothes on," says Dixon.

In the early days of airboats, these water missiles were used to get into tucked away places to collect bird feathers. When Paul got his first glimpse, it sparked an idea. Why not build them. First, a slick bottom is needed.

Rowdy demonstrated how slick the bottom is. From there the frame is assembled. Add one airplane engine and a gallon of gas. But hold the water. "A good airboat can go on land. It doesn't need water."

And to prove it, we went for a ride, in the woods. Of course it does pretty well on the water, as fast as 105 mph.

"It's awesome!"

Sure is. But despite the speed there is one thing that will keep an airboat grounded. "Something we've all done-- we forget to put the drain plugs in."

But in the 40 years Paul's been doing this that doesn't happen too much anymore. What you will see is a fun loving group of people gather frequent flier miles every chance they get, spreading the word of an airboat's versatility, and letting the outboards in Lake Seminole eat their wake.

Paul builds about a dozen boats a year, which sell between $13,000 and $30,000 each.

But you may not see them at the boat ramp at Lake Seminole in Georgia's southwest corner. Airboats do not need a boat ramp to be launched!

posted at 12:00 PM by: kentw@walb.com