History of O.V.V.H.A.

A History In The Making

By: Brian Johnson

          From a lifelong love of the sport of hydroplane racing to today, Joseph Johnson of Hanover, Indiana has found a way to be involved in the sport.  In 1987, Joe helped the father-son team of Ed Cooper Sr. and Jr. with their Unlimited Hydroplane the Cooper’s Express in both Madison and Evansville Indiana at the races.  This opportunity fueled the flame a little more.

          In 1999, Joe became the Region 7 representative for the Vintage Hydroplanes.  This title led him to join forces with his hometown race, the Madison Regatta, for seven years.  For all of the seven years he served as the Vintage Chairman and two of those years he had a dual role also serving as Race Chairman of the Event.  While working with the Madison Regatta he served on both the Executive Board and the Board of Directors for the site.

          In 2000, Joe’s brother, David Johnson, purchased the 225 class hydroplane Close Shave II, built by Loren Charley.  This was the beginning of the restoration days as both brothers would spend a few hours a night and weekends working on bringing the boat back to life.  In 2001, the Close Shave II returned to the water in front of friends and family at the Madison Regatta.  The fire was burning even more now for Joe.

          Joe is now having dreams of Madison being the home of the largest hydroplane museum in the world. However, he was needing a way to make this happen. This is when he met Dr. Hammam Hasan. Affectionately known as “Doc”. Dr. Hasan, had the missing puzzle piece for Joe.  The puzzle piece would come in the form of Ha Learning Strategies and its signature theme, Project Hydroplane Racing Program (PHRP).

          Dr. Hasan is both the creator and founder of PHRP.  In the beginning, he decided to present race boats as part of his curriculum due to the makeup of his students.  Most were involved in gangs, through their families, and were not interested in the traditional way of learning.  Their behaviors were typically self-destructive.  This alternative approach to teaching, using hydroplanes in a project-based/performance assessment instructional format, proved to be exactly what the students wanted.

          Doc was introduced to hydroplanes at the age of five.  His first race was the 1955 Gold Cup in Seattle, WA. It was at this time that he promised his father he would one day get to work with the hydroplanes. In 1986, that promise came to fruition when he was hired as a crew member on the Oh Boy Oberto Unlimited Hydroplane.

          He began the program teaching his fourth, fifth, and sixth graders about hydroplanes in 1985 using the race boats to impress the elementary school students about the wonders of science, most importantly the sciences of aerodynamics and hydrodynamics.  The first designs were comprised of two or three pieces of wood glued together, sanded into shape and painted, with a plastic propeller mounted on the stern of the hull.  The hydroplanes were powered by rubber bands and their propellers cut through the air.

          The next design was more sophisticated as Doc integrated more math and science into the plans for his seventh and eighth grade students.  They got to develop frames and bulkheads that were covered with painted and inscribed decks.  These were designed with underwater battery-driven propellers.

          Today's designs are highly sophisticated.  Participant designs are formulated on coordinate planes and conceived through computer programs.  They are not only designed with structure, but they are powered by rocket motors, and motorized engines with remote-controlled units, to guide them around test and race courses.  Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are integrated into the curriculum implemented to develop these hydroplanes.  Students learn skills they can take with them into their post high school careers.

          To date 17 schools in the Louisville, KY area have participated in the PHRP program.  The most noted is the Maupin Hydroplane Program (MHP).  This is a project based instructional program with emphasis on human development and multiple intelligences theory.

          The program enhances the learning experiences of all student participants.  These include participants from the general education population as well as those with exceptional learning needs.  This is accomplished by providing participants with individualized instruction.  The program is encompassed within the state-generated standards-based curricula, and integrates the content areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Students learn in teams of five.  Each team selects a captain; an individual that the participants feel will help them with their learning and behavior.  The purpose of MHP is to encourage students in grades 1 to 5 to gain and maintain an interest in school and learning.

          Recently O.V.V.H.A. and Ha Learning strategies have decided to join forces.  By partnering with one another the PHRP program will continue to grow, initially locally, then nationally, and finally to the international stage.  This will affect both organizations as the participants will begin by learning with the foam board rocket-powered hydroplanes and continue to grow by learning on J-stock hydroplanes on into one litre composite hydroplanes as well as restoring vintage hydroplanes.  This is where the purpose of O.V.V.H.A. comes in to play, they will be in the business to help produce the parts needed for the foam board hydroplane kits as well as take in hydroplane restoration projects.  They will also grow into doing the composite work on hydroplanes that can be currently raced in virtually any class of boat racing today.  The plans also include having a fully functioning machine shop and an engine rebuild area.

          The initial home of O.V.V.H.A. will be based in Madison, IN due to the rich racing heritage that it has. This is also where the museum will be housed. The plans are to get the first operation fully functional and then graduate from state to state introducing this new and exciting way to teach students and adults alike. Whether that comes 3 years, 5 years, or even 10 years down the road, O.V.V.H.A. and HA Learning Strategies are going to change the face of learning for students as well as maintain the heritage for hydroplanes into something everyone can recognize for many generations to come.

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