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26 September 2013

James Walker: HTC-trained Commercial Hovercraft Pilot

Hovercraft are not just for recreation – hovercraft also mean business. Just ask James Walker, an amphibious vehicles operator for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., of Oak Brook, Illinois. GLDD is the largest provider of dredging services in the U.S. and one of the growing number of companies in the world who provide critical services with commercial hovercraft.

After James (center) and his crew learned to fly and maintain the GLDD hovercraft at HTC, he said, “It’s flying; it’s not a boat, it’s not a jet ski. Hovercraft are unique and you get a much better perspective in knowing what you’re dealing with when you know it from the ground up.

James’ training quickly proved its worth in a major environmental restoration project on Pelican Island, a key barrier island off the coast of Louisiana. Pelican Island is crucial for protecting Louisiana people and property against storm surges and is one of America’s richest fisheries – but it has one of the highest rates of wetlands loss in the world.

As Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond explains, “If one block of New York City disappeared every hour, the nation would be outraged. Well, Louisiana loses a football field of wetlands every hour, which is crippling to the state and the nation. It affects our seafood supply, gas and oil reserves, and storm protection. Reversing this trend is a critical national priority.”

… and you’ll never again think of hovercraft as just toys.


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