WE HAVE lift off. Excited hovercraft fans who are gearing up for their longed-for museum are starting with a massive operation to move two craft into position.

Gosport MP Peter Viggers is one of many people who helped the museum trustees secure an extension to a lease at HMS Daedalus.

He said: "I've done my best. It would have been good to get a better deal, perhaps secure a longer lease or a lower rental, but at least the trustees can start planning for the future."

Mike Pinder, vice president of the Hovercraft Society, has been appointed as organiser of next year's show and manager of the museum, which would house over 40 hovercraft of various shapes and sizes.

He said: "It is the best site, and there have been hovercraft here for 40 years.

"In time we hope to set up a real centre of excellence here where people can learn about the design, building and operation of hovercraft."

As previously reported, the lease was set to expire next month, but the Ministry of Defence has agreed a new, three-year term.

The site is up for sale, but the society is hoping to put in a bid for the land nearest the slipway which has five hangars. This would also be conveniently situated to attract visitors to the museum.

A spokesman for the museum's trustees, said: "It's all systems go now. Plans are under way for a show in May."

Before that two hovercraft at the former Navy airfield have to be relocated.

Four massive airblowers and six lorries are being used to shift a 32-year-old engineless 205-tonne hovercraft just 100 feet to its new resting place.

A smaller craft is also on the move, but trustee Warwick Jacobs said these will both be dwarfed by two 305-tonne hovercraft.