What exactly is a Dolphin Watercraft?
A fully submersible watercraft that is designed to mimic the look and abilities of our beloved aquatic counterpart, the dolphin. The Dolphin, originally patented as a VASH (variable attitude submersible hydrofoil), was invented by Thomas Rowe in 1987 with his Dolphin, Noland 1. On September 7, 1992 it became the first lighter than water vehicle to ever successfully "fly" underwater. This groundbreaking craft proved the concept of underwater flight, and paved the way for a new form of aquatic transportation.
How do they differ from conventional submersibles?
A Dolphin operates completely differently from a conventional submersible in several key ways. While a standard submersible takes on ballast (water weight) in order to literally sink beneath the surface, a Dolphin uses its forward momentum and variable pitch diving planes to fly beneath the surface. The distinction is much like the difference between an air ship (which uses a light weight gas to obtain lift) and an airplane (which uses its wings to achieve flight).
No other submersible vessel in the world today operates without the use of ballast. The advantage of this method of diving is that it allows our vessels to achieve an unparalleled level of freestyle performance. Another advantage of flying rather than sinking is that should something go wrong during a dive, the dolphin always pops to the surface and self-rights.
How deep can the Innespace Dolphin dive?
Currently dives are restricted to just a few feet below the surface. When the snorkel, (located in the Dolphin's dorsal fin) is submerged, the engine's fresh air supply is cut off and the engine will start to lose power. The engine draws such a vacuum during these dives that cockpit air pressure will lower to the point where it often pops the pilot's ears. Deeper dives may be possible in the future with the use of supplementary compressed air. Most of today's engines with the necessary horsepower are too air-hungry for this to be a feasible option. The Dolphin uses 200 cubic feet per minute of air, while a Scuba tank holds only about 70 cubic feet of air. (Theoretically enough for a 20 second dive.)
How fast can the Dolphin go?
This Dolphin can achieve speeds up to 30 mph on the surface and 20 mph below the surface. The surface speed could be higher, but we have geared down the Dolphin's engine and propeller to maximize torque and sub-surface speed. Variable pitch props and multi-speed transmissions would allow faster surface and sub-surface speeds.
What other tricks can the Dolphin perform?
The Dolphin has full 3-axis control (pitch, roll and yaw) much like an airplane. This allows the Dolphin to perform numerous tricks, not possible with any other watercraft today. These tricks include:
- Prolonged snorkel dives of 15 seconds at 20 mph
- Dipping below the water and then jumping clear out of the water
- Porpoising like a Dolphin
- Barrel rolls and multiple roll overs
- Mid air rolls with inverted landings
- Pitching straight down and popping up backwards
- Planeing at 30 mph with the canopy fully open
- Diving underneath a rubber raft or prop boat
What is the Dolphin made from?
The Dolphin's fuselage is made of fiberglass and Kevlar with a urethane foam core. The Dolphin's canopy is made from a half inch thick F-16 Fighter Jet canopy. She is powered by a 110 horsepower Yamaha Waverunner engine and driven through a velvet drive transmission with a 2:1 gear reduction.
Is the Dolphin dry inside?
Yes. Initially we were plagued by leaks in our homemade canopy seal. However, with the recent installation of our new inflatable aircraft seal, the cockpit is now 100% watertight.
What is Innespace?
Innespace is a design and fabrication company, dedicated to the creation and demonstration of submersible watercraft. Rob Innes and Dan Piazza founded Innespace in 1998. We have designed numerous watercraft and fabricated several prototypes of various designs. Our current and most successful craft to date is Sweet Virgin Angel, a fully operational submersible vessel. Completed in 2001, Sweet Virgin Angel has undergone rigorous testing and refinement to become a very safe, reliable vessel able to perform on demand.
Do you have any other Dolphins in the works?
Innespace has a larger two-seater Dolphin presently under construction, due for completion next year. This vessel will be able to take passengers for rides below the surface, so they too can experience the unique sensation of flying under water.This Dolphin is powered by a 155 horsepower marine rotary engine and will be capable of surface speeds in excess of 40 mph. The fuselage is constructed from fiberglass, Kevlar, and honeycomb core material. Pilot and passenger sit safely beneath a 3/4-inch thick polycarbonate canopy taken from the new F 22 Raptor.
At first glance the new SeaBreacher Dolphin may look very similar to Virgin Angel, our single seat Dolphin. However, it incorporates many design and engineering improvements that were gained from building, operating and maintaining Angel. The body is fifty percent larger in volume in order to make room for a full sized passenger as well as allowing for bigger and more powerful engine packages.
Instead of using an F-16 aircraft canopy, we opted to use the wider and thicker canopy from the new F-22 Raptor. The three-quarter-inch thick solid polycarbonate canopy is more than strong enough to withstand hard inverted landings, and is not prone to visual delamination seen on earlier multi-layered F-16 canopies. The slide-back canopy opening mechanism remains very similar to Angel's design. This system proved very effective, allowing the Dolphin to be driven at full speed with the canopy wide open.The off-cuts of the chopped-down F-22 canopy were utilized in the underwater viewports positioned adjacent to the pilot's foot controls. These extra windows help the pilot avoid underwater obstacles and also give a 360 degree sensory experience to both pilot and passenger.
The SeaBreacher's hull resembles a more conventional deep V shape design in order to increase surface performance and reduce the amount of water spray while planing. Long inward cutouts behind the main wings are designed to further minimize spray coming off the main wings. There are no downward facing chines on the underside of the hull, as we did not want the hull to generate more lift than the main wings could overcome when entering a dive at high speed.
When deciding to build a bigger vessel, we felt that it was important not to depart from the sleek styling of Sweet Virgin Angel. We needed to accommodate an extra full sized passenger and larger engine package, but we wanted to avoid a bulky sedan-like appearance. We also did not want to increase the volume of the craft unnecessarily, as it requires exponentially more power to drive a larger vessel underwater.For this reason, we chose to build the lower hull (much like you build the rolling chassis of a car) before we built the final body shape. We installed all the major internal hardware as well as pilot and passenger, giving us all the necessary internal measurement constraints.
The body was then carefully sculpted to match up with the new flare-sided canopy and lower hull section. The addition of the scallop-shaped sides and raised spine running down from the dorsal fin further help to minimize the bulk of the new Dolphin. The addition of the large viewports represented a difficult design challenge, but we think their shape, along with the more angled canopy, give the new vessel a more agressive look.
Can I buy or lease an Innespace Dolphin and Sea Breacher?
Innespace is focused on building Dolphins for demonststration purposes only. We will be touring the country with our Dolphins, performing stunt shows at various events. Innespace is actively seeking a sponsor to partner with us in this endeavor.Our Dolphins will also be available to lease for film and commercial work.
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