How Fast Can an Airboat Go?

There are many boats you can fly through the water on including yachts, sailboats, pontoon boats and more. Perhaps the most fun and speed can be found when riding on an airboat.

How fast can an airboat go? An airboat can reach a speed of over 130 miles per hour or 209 kilometers per hour. The speed of an airboat depends primarily on the type of fan used, the horsepower of the engine, and the build quality of the boat.

Read on to learn more about airboats and how they manage to go that fast.

The Need for Speed

The secrets to an airboat’s speed and traversing capabilities are all in the build. An airboat is fan-powered and is designed for speed. The balance of the airboat is carefully considered by the builder, however, the speed takes the priority here. In other words, power takes the top spot on the list of what makes an airboat good.

An airboat is a flat bottomed boat, which is fitted with a large propeller fan on its back, propelling the boat forward when it is moving.  This large fan is powered by either a road vehicle engine or an airplane styled propeller.

The engine is entirely dependent on the size of the airboat in which it is to be fitted. The streamlined structure of the airboat allows it to cut through the water like a shark—and the giant fan (sometimes two) on the back allows it to go fast.

How Fast Can an Airboat Go?

The speed of an airboat depends primarily on two things. The first is the build as well as the load on the boat. This includes not just the load of the passengers and their stuff; it also includes the load of the fan and the material used for the construction itself. This is something that is paid special attention to when it comes to constructing airboats for racing purposes.

So how fast can an airboat go? It might surprise you to know that racing airboats can reach a speed of over 130 miles per hour or 209 kilometers per hour!

The second thing is very obvious—the speed of an airboat depends on the fan used, the horsepower of the engine used, as well as the design and build quality. At a certain point, the engine can heat up and end up malfunctioning. The engine cover also needs to be completely sealed and waterproof to ensure top speeds are maintained over time.

The more the engine’s power is, the faster the blades of the fan can go—the more torque there is in the mix, the better it is for the speed. However, above a certain horsepower, you need to take a look at the design holistically to make sure there will be no structural anomalies that will make the engine or the fan fall apart. This is a highly likely scenario in cases when the horsepower is more than 750 units.

Another factor that determines airboat speed is the size and the curvature of the blades. The blades will cut the air – so to speak – allowing forward propulsion. To make sure the blades don’t come off or start bending, above a certain speed (116 miles per hour for example), there needs to be strong, durable materials over others to ensure structural integrity.

So if all these factors are in place, airboats can go anywhere from 80 miles an hour in 3 seconds to 142 miles an hour well under 15 seconds.

However, that is not in any way shape or form the ability of an airboat’s maximum speed. The answer to this question is not as simple as a one-liner, as there are too many variables in the mix that determine the ability of an airboat to go at a certain speed.

Go above a certain speed, and the fan malfunctions. Go under a certain speed and the airboat is not good enough for racing purposes (and in many cases, to escape from incoming tides or to get out of any bad situations). There is a sweet spot in the middle of ‘insanely fast’ and ‘boring.’ And this is decided by factors like build, horsepower, the design, and much more.

Does Speed Matter?

When it comes to airboats, it is tricky to explain the importance of speed. In simple words, speed is important—but it can be very dangerous.

An airboat used for racing demands speed, which it achieves in exchange of fuel (the fuel consumption of racing airboats is huge as the engine has a higher horsepower value, which utilizes more oil to produce a massive torque). While these airboats are great racing at 137 miles per hour, they are not convenient options for anything else than a one-time adrenaline rush that will leave your fuel tank empty.

On the other hand, if you are using airboats for leisure purposes, you don’t need speed. It can consume a lot of fuel, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere, or you could miscalculate how far away from the land you need to turn the engine down. A lot of accidents can happen here—this is why a speed of 30-40 miles an hour is recommended for leisure air boating.

Now that is out of the way, let’s discuss both types of airboats and their top speeds, build, purpose and average speeds to get a better idea of what these boats are all about—and what they can really do.

How Fast Can Racing Airboats Go?

In many examples, we have witnessed an airboat going at massive speeds of 140 miles per hour. The thing that determines the speed of a custom (and carefully constructed) airboat is the materials used (as well as the horsepower of the engine that goes into the making of the fan of the airboat). Some airboats use two fans that are smaller in size as compared to 1 larger fan, in order to give the airboat more stability—and, in many cases, more speed than the one propeller.

When you come to customized airboats, it is always difficult to pinpoint an average speed as every airboat is different from the rest. There are some companies that specialize in making marine airboats as well as all-terrain vehicles (commonly referred to as ATV airboats) for both leisure and racing purposes.

One of these companies is American Airboat Corporation which specializes in creating airboats that have a massive horsepower—we are talking a horsepower of more than 800 units. Couple that with a supercharged engine, 3 blade whirlwind propeller, and you have yourself a powerhouse that can break 120 miles per hour with ease.

This translates to racing airboats having a maximum speed of 130-150 miles per hour, with an average speed of 135 miles per hour. This is calculated based on the fact that airboats which go above 140 miles per hour are not as common as the ones that have a top speed of 120 to 140 miles per hour; the reason behind being that the more you increase the speed of the airboat, the more powerful and dangerous it will become.

Below shows the break-neck speeds of some of the fastest racing airboats:

How Fast Should Leisure Airboats Go?

Airboats that are used for normal gliding across shallow waterways—whether for fun or to simply to get from point A to point B, do not warrant the kind of structural and technical design as racing airboats.

Non-racing airboats can go up to a speed of only 40 miles per hour or 64 kilometers per hour, and this is a good thing, considering they are not meant for adventure-seeking adrenaline-junkies. They are built using materials that are sturdy as well as designs that will look well. These airboats have engines that are lower in horsepower. This is for two main reasons.

The first one is that an engine of, say around 200 to 350 horsepower units will save you a lot of money as it does not require as much fuel to function. This gives some mileage to your airboat. Secondly, the engine is quieter as compared to racing airboats. If you are going on a family trip across the seas, the last thing you need is the whirring sounds of the engine being loud enough to interrupt your conversations.

Lastly, and most importantly, except for airboats that are used in icy conditions for rescue purposes, airboats don’t have breaking mechanisms. Hence, if you have the potential to have children on board, manufacturers recommend your airboat to have a top speed of 40 miles an hour.

With that being said, however, there are leisure airboats that have a potential top speed ranging anywhere from 65 miles per hour to 75 miles an hour as well—however, this is calculated based just on the power of the engine, which is used for load-carrying rather than increasing speed.

Below is a video showing some of the slower, more comfortable rides of a lesiure airboat:

Conclusion – How Fast Do Airboats Go?

So to recap our initial question, “how fast can an airboat go?” An airboat can go as fast as 130 miles per hour or 209 kilometers per hour. This speed depends on how powerful the engine is, the fan, and also the design of the boat.

To sum up, speed shouldn’t be the main factor unless you’re buying one for racing. But constructed well, airboats can give you a thrill you won’t forget.