James Forrestal Research Center, Princeton University
Acquisition Source: U.S. Army Transportation Museum Loan
Fan Diameter: 2 ft
Peripheral: 8 ft
During the late 1950s, a worldwide burst of energy poured forth in experimental Ground Effect Machines (GEMs) and Surface Effects Ships (SES). The Aeronautical Engineering Department of the James Forrestal Research Center at Princeton University produced several GEMs, two of which were supported by the U.S. Army's Transportation Research Command.
The initial "flying" vehicle was the X‑2 Air Scooter seen here. A nose fan supplied air to the air cushion contained within the peripheral fabric curtain around the 8 foot diameter platform. The X‑2 was followed by the X‑4, a more powerful variant of very similar structural characteristics and powered by a 15 HP Yamaha engine driving a four‑bladed fan.
Another vehicle built at Princeton was the X‑3, a 20 foot diameter "Flying Saucer." All of these GEMs were light, one‑man vehicles. Only the X‑2 and X‑3 were evaluated by the U.S. Army.