Everglades Eco Tours, Florida wildlife

What is an Airboat, Anyway?

The airboat is known as a transportation standard of swamps and marshes the world over, including the Florida Everglades. It also provides a fast and exciting way to experience the River of Grass and other habitats of this unique region of South Florida. They are also called fanboats, blowboats, or “What kind of boat is that?” by the uninitiated. Simply put, they are flat-bottomed boats, also called jon boats, that are moved by a large propeller at the back of it. Before you go airboating in Miami, here is some background information for both the experts and the curious alike.

Airboat History

The first airboat, dubbed “The Ugly Duckling”, was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1905 in Nova Scotia. In 1920, aviation pioneer and Florida native, Glenn Curtiss, helped build “The Scooter”, which had a closed cabin that could hold six passengers and had a large, uncovered propeller in the back of the craft. The flat-bottom version as we know it is largely credited to a homemade design built by Leo Young, Hortin Jensen, and Cecil Williams in the 1940’s. When word spread about their innovation, the design’s popularity made it the standard.

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Some Airboat Facts and Stats

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  • Until the 1980’s, they used aircraft engines. But for ease of maintenance, they have been largely replaced by automotive engines
  • Similar to airplanes, most are driven by a throttle stick and another stick to turn right or left
  • While some racing models can reach speeds upwards of 130 miles per hour, they are most safely operated at around 50 MPH, which is important because…
  • They don’t have brakes. Some designed for rescue in colder climates have them to prevent slipping on ice. Operating one involves knowing when to slow down to bring it to a stop.

The Florida Everglades is a large place, with an impressive variety of terrain and wildlife to see here. Offering both an exciting ride and a fun, educational experience for the whole family, airboating in Miami offers a glimpse into an overlooked, but unforgettable part of Florida. Navigating the Everglades by airboat is and has been a vital part of the Gladesmen Culture here at Mack’s Fish Camp for generations, one that we have the privilege of sharing with you.


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Ready To Take an Airboat Ride in Miami?

You’re about to head to South Florida, packed and ready to enjoy some time relaxing near one of its many beautiful beaches. But, if you’re craving some time away from the artificial reefs of city hotels, and some excitement for the whole family, why not book an Everglades airboat tour?

A unique, and memorable experience for everyone, airboating in Miami is also a fun and educational way to see the Florida Everglades. If you’re wondering as to what an airboat is or what the benefits of riding one might be, here’s a quick overview to get you started.

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Airboats, Transportation Standard of The Everglades

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Airboats, also known as fanboats or blowboats, are flat-bottomed boats powered by aircraft engines fitted with caged propellers on the back of the vessel. By having these large propellers spinning above the water, airboats are able to cross the mostly shallow waters of the Florida Everglades quickly, while getting access to its more remote areas better than boats with standard engines. Along with their elevated seating, airboats provide a unique and exciting way for passengers to see out and over plants and grass and observe the wide variety of wildlife that inhabits the Everglades.

Get up Close with South Florida Wildlife

Florida is recognized as having a lot of three things: oranges, beaches, and the American alligator. They like to make their homes here in the Everglades, so airboating in Miami is the best way to see them and the many other animal species that reside here too. The Everglades is an environment with incredible biodiversity, with wading birds like the Roseatte Spoonbill and Great Blue Huron, turtles, and more calling it home. Once endangered in the 1980’s, the alligators have bounced back so well that you’re likely to lose count of how many you see while on an Everglades airboat tour.

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Miami Airboat Tours – Experience the Florida Everglades

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The Everglades truly is a gem of South Florida, one that no other state has. Outdoor sportsmen, nature enthusiasts and thrill-seeking families alike come from around the world to explore this area, many opting to tour it on a guided airboat ride to best experience it. At Macks’s Fish Camp, you and your family get to behold the vast, natural beauty of the Everglades, guided by the fifth-generation Florida Gladesmen who call it home, at an exciting pace. The chance to see the wide variety of local wildlife and a private airboat tour is just the activity to make for a complete family vacation to South Florida.