History In The Making
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.