John and Maureen Wright live on an island in Buckthorn, Ontario, Canada. Sounds like a dream for these two retirees from law enforcement, right? Well, it is – now that they have a hovercraft!
The problem with their dream life has been ice. During much of the year, the partially frozen water surrounding their island makes it difficult for them to travel between their home and the mainland. “We’ll use the hovercraft to get back and forth from island to mainland when the water’s not hard enough to walk on or it’s too hard to put a boat on,” says John.
But before they took their new Neoteric craft back to Canada, John and Maureen first went through training at HTC. As John explains, “I took training to learn how to drive a car. And I’m a scuba diver; I wouldn't think about putting on a suit and tanks and going to a hundred feet without training. You don’t fly a plane without taking some instruction – you’re gonna crash. Same thing goes with this.”
Maureen agreed, “I need to be in it and see it explained for me to be comfortable. Training is just a commonsense thing to me.”
At the Wabash River training site, instructor Chris Fitzgerald teaches the Wrights how to unload their hovercraft from its trailer.
John takes the controls, while instructor Fitzgerald provides constant direction.
Back at HTC headquarters after a successful training day, John and Maureen receive their hovercraft pilot certifications from Chris Fitzgerald (center).
At the conclusion of their training, John had some words of advice for those who would venture out in a hovercraft without training: “It’s like a bar of soap on a bathroom floor – you’d be crashing into everything! Without training, I can’t even imagine starting off on my own.”
Describing his first experience in a hovercraft, John says, “The training was excellent! It was a lot different than I imagined – kind of like an airplane or helicopter that can spin on a dime and go backwards and forwards and sideways. I was surprised at how maneuverable it was. We’re going along the shore and I was able to maneuver around stumps and through things and with the reverse thrust buckets to come up and touch the bank then back away and come up and touch it again. You’re nine inches above the ground – it was great!”
A few days after returning to Canada, John sent us an update and a photo of him easily flying his hovercraft across partially frozen water …
After getting out on the ice, John really appreciated his training. He wrote, “Chris, you were right – the craft on ice is tricky. I liken it to a rocket ship in space where the inertia is exponential. But it worked beautifully, across the ice to the water.”
No smashing up for the Wrights, after training at HTC!