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The ‘Flymo’ hover mower
Picture: 01R_10410504.jpg
Flymo super professional 47 rotary air cushion mower, 1980. The Flymo revolutionised grass cutting with its lightweight and convenient hover action.
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
Inspired by Christopher Cockerell’s invention of the hovercraft in 1955, Karl Dahlman, a Swedish lawn mower engineer, produced the world’s first flying mower – ‘Flymo’ for short – in 1963. He chose to develop and market the machine in Britain, which had the largest market for lawn mowers in Western Europe. The ‘Flymo’ had no wheels, but floated in any direction on a cushion of air, slashing the grass with its rotary blades. The machine was cheap, lightweight and convenient. It was particularly good on steep slopes and cut close up to obstacles and beneath overhanging shrubbery, which had always been a problem with conventional mowers. Its appeal to the mass market was ensured and it caused a revolution in grass cutting. The heavy, outmoded push and petrol mowers used for years to create perfect striped swaths on fine British ‘bowling green’ quality lawns were out of touch with the reality of modern gardens. In 1989, ninety per cent of Britain’s sixteen million ‘lawns’ were of 100 square yards or smaller. Many home owners had an uneven patch of coarse grass, moss and weeds – enough for the children to kick a football around, yet requiring only minimal maintenance. The ‘Flymo’, which was quick and convenient, was perfectly suited to this type of garden. ‘Flymo’ now has about fifty per cent of the UK lawn mower market, is Europe’s biggest lawn mower manufacturer and exports to over sixty countries worldwide.
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