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Guess that people prefer props and jet boats...I did see one on the middle Meramec around Sappington Bridge a couple years ago. Incredibly loud, and it through a huge wake. I'm glad they aren't popular.

 

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I suspect it has more to do with stability, I don't think airboats like rough water, with all that weight on top they do turn over.  Our agency has one they have used on the Kansas River on occasion, but I sure wouldn't want to be out in one.

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Airboats are designed to run over grass and lily pads that would choke a jet or prop motor.  Takes a big engine and a big prop to make them move.  Not very efficient way to power a boat.  Engines could be muffled, but most I have seen are based on small 4 cylinder engines with straight pipes out the back or headers.  Going against a current would be tough too.  Most are seen on flat water with minimal current.

I had an Uncle that built one back in the 80's using a old wooden ski boat and a Volkswagon engine.  It was a bitch to paddle.  But it would have worked better on a flat jon.  And it probably would have worked better if my Uncle was a better mechanic than an engineer.  He came up with several neat designs using Volkswagon engines, but he could not keep them running properly.

MDC uses one at Duck Creek from time to time.  It was the only way to cross most of the lily pad covered parts of the lake to do waterfowl studies.

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I've seen a couple throughout the years on the Meramec.  If I saw any more of them I'd either shoot the operator or shoot myself. About the loudest, most obnoxious things I've ever seen on the river, and I've seen a lot.  Totally impractical for fishing--who wants that big prop and framework taking up half the boat, sticking up in the air, and basically making it impossible to cast in some directions.  The one I saw one time was blowing through a narrow riffle with overhanging trees and chewed up leaves and twigs off the tree limbs going through.

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We rescued a guy on the Salt river in a airboat once.  He had taken on some water and the bilge pump quit.   He could go in a straight line but couldn't make a turn.   Ruptured the fuel tank on a overhanging limb and ran out of gas.  

He would have spent the night on the river with no food or drink if we hadn't happened along. 

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