Vintage Hydroplanes - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Vintage Hydroplanes

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KENNEWICK, Wash.- 50 years ago the design was slightly different, but drivers still had a need for speed. So how fast can vintage hydroplanes go? And how far has the technology come?

Vintage Boats are around 50 years old, but are still about four times more powerful than a racecar and can reach speeds upwards of 160 miles per hour.

They get their power from huge World War II engines.

In modern hydroplanes the cockpit is very different. The driver is strapped in with a seat belt, an air mask and an F-16 canopy.

In contrast, when driving a vintage boat, whether in the 1960's or in an exhibition at the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup this weekend, the driver is very exposed.

Executive Director of the Hydroplane & Race Boat Museum David Williams says, "The old boats will sink when they crash. So they are designed to throw the driver away from the wreck."

 So vintage drivers aren't belted in, and basically rely on gripping the steering wheel to hang on during a race.

Technology has certainly come a long way since these boats were designed, but the racing spirit seems to remain unchanged.