The team left early this morning to start making up ground lost due to weather and repair delays. The team reached their goal of making it to the Missouri River Boat Club and was greeted by many fantastic people along with media from local ABC and NBC television stations and the Sioux City Journal newspaper. The team is now less than 100 miles from reaching their goal destination of Gavins Point Dam.
The team stopped in White Cloud, NE and received a very warm welcome from everyone. The guys would like to say thank you for all of your hospitality! As Bill Zang said - "This is true America out here. The people literally will bend over backwards to help you out."
The Sioux City Journal wrote the following article that appeared in their May 18th edition:
By Jesse Claeys, Journal staff writer
A trio of hovercraft on Monday make their way up the Missouri River near the Dakota City boat ramp. The drivers are using the craft to retrace parts of the Lewis and Clark voyage. (Staff photo by Tim Hynds)
They braved wind and rain while struggling against the currents of the Missouri River.
They carried supplies to feed the members of the expedition party. They also traded
with Sioux City natives for beer and pop.
When Mike Kiester and the five other explorers encountered the natives of the
Missouri River Boat Club at their clubhouse Monday afternoon, he presented them
with coins. Three of them to be specific, a Louisiana state quarter, Missouri's
state quarter and a new nickel commemorating the Louisiana Purchase.
It was a 55-cent history lesson for the natives, but for Kiester and the other
members of this expedition, it meant a round of beers and sodas.
"They give us gasoline, I give them pieces of paper or pieces of plastic,"
Kiester, a 57-year-old Duncan, Okla., resident, said of his trading dollars and
credit cards with a few natives over the last four days.
On Friday, Kiester and crew departed from Camp DuBois near St. Louis, where the
Lewis and Clark journey began, to retrace the historic steps first made in 1804.
But this trip is different from the one taken years ago -- these men are following
the trail once blazed before them using hovercrafts.
Following the Missouri River to Yankton, S.D., the five men are traveling in
three hovercrafts dubbed "Lewis," "Clark" and "Sacagawea." On Monday, one day
behind schedule but nearing the final destination of Yankton's Gavin's Point
Dam, they drove their vessels right up the boat ramp at Riverside Park to seek
refuge from the rain.
"Yesterday, we had about a 35 mph headwind, so that's what put us a day behind,"
Bill Zang, a Harvard, Ill. resident who, at 25 years old, is the youngest of the
hovercraft explorers. "We just decided to make camp and wait it out."
Other than the wet weather, the hovercraft pilots are encountering the dangers
of debris lurking in the muddy waters of the Missouri River. Monday morning,
57-year-old "Lewis" pilot Bob Windt struck something that tore the rubber skirt
of the craft and the journey was halted for about an hour for repairs.
The hovercraft average about 15 feet in length and 7 feet in width. They are
propelled by two fans, one in the front that lifts the vessel as the skirt fills
with air, and a larger one in the back that propels the craft forward. They are
averaging about 35 mph during the trek.
The explorers are protected from the elements by a small windshield and tarps
rigged overhead, but as the party entered the clubhouse, the rain dripping from
their waterproof suits and their bee-line to the wood burning stove made it evident
it still wasn't much protection.
"I am pretty well covered up, but my passenger gets a lot of the elements. The
guys in the other crafts don't have much protection in front of them and get soaked
pretty easy, too," Zang, the president of Universal Hovercraft, said with a laugh.
"I read a temperature of 57 degrees yesterday," Don Bender, the only man traveling
in the "Clark" craft. "That doesn't include wind chill."
The men said they have been camping along the river wherever they can as they
retrace the Lewis and Clark journey. They said they have been surprised by the
crowds of friendly natives they have encountered on the trail, including the 30
or so residents of White Clay, Kan. who strolled into the expedition camp the
"They wanted to know anything we needed, tools, gas, if we wanted to go anywhere.
It seemed like the whole town came out to check in on us," Windt, who designed
the world's fastest hovercraft that reached a speed of 85.375 mph in 1995, said.
The brave explorers planned to make camp along the banks of the Big Sioux River
in Sioux City Monday night before heading to Yankton today and then start the
return trip to Illinois.
"I wouldn't say this has given me a newfound respect for the Lewis and Clark
journey," Kiester, a commercial aircraft pilot who is the co-holder with Windt
of the New Orleans-to-St. Louis hovercraft speed record said, "because I have
always respected what those men did. This just deepens that feeling."
Jesse Claeys can be reached at (712) 293-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Article courtesy of the The Sioux City Journal.
Day 04 Video Clip
(3.21 MB Quicktime File Format)
Bob Windt making repairs to the hovercraft skirt. There was a lot of floating debris in the river today.
The "Lewis" hovercraft back up to speed. Hovercraft skirts can easily be repaired in a matter of a few minutes.
The team was excited when they passed a submarine and battleship going up the river!
All the great people at the Missouri River Boat Club.