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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.

23 September 2013

Meet an HTC-trained Military Hovercraft Pilot

Capt. Cory Lingelbach, a U.S. Air Force firefighter, is a military hovercraft pilot and chief flight instructor for the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base. Did he learn his hovercraft skills from the military? No – he learned them at Hovercraft Training Centers.

Capt. Lingelbach (left) and his crew completed a week of specialized military hovercraft pilot training at HTC.
And those skills have certainly paid off. Among other rescues, Capt. Lingelbach used one of UTTR’s two Neoteric hovercraft to rescue a downed F-16 pilot who crashed on the Great Salt Lakes mudflats, where no other vehicle could travel. The jet hit the ground at 300 mph, shattering it into burning fragments scattered across a vast muddy terrain. The hovercraft not only rescued the pilot, who ejected before impact, but were also valuable in the search and recovery operations. 
The UTTR training at HTC included night rescue operations; shown here through night vision goggles.
Before their hovercraft purchase, when UTTR used ATVs and trucks, emergency response times could reach 2-3 hours; now they can reach victims within minutes. “Without the level of training sophistication that HTC provided, we would never be able to perform our missions the way we do.” says Capt. Lingelbach …


Learn how HTC plans to expand military hovercraft training …


20 September 2013

Is a Hovercraft Right for You? Find Out at HTC!

As Ben Stein says, “The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.”  If you’ve been toying with the idea of owning a hovercraft or starting a hovercraft business, a Hovercraft Training Centers test flight or training course is the place to start. 

That was the first step for Rusty Roush, a lifelong CPA and investment advisor from Amarillo, Texas: “I’m trying to see if it’s something that’s fun and easy to learn, and what business applications it might have. I don’t know that I want to continue what I’m doing in my profession forever, you know?
Rusty and his wife Debbie traveled to HTC headquarters for his exploratory training. After a morning of classroom instruction and discussing the possibility of owning a HoverCenter, Rusty sets off on his flight training on the Wabash River. Via wireless headsets, Debbie takes part in the entire flight session – after all, you’d better include your wife of 40 years in major life decisions! …

With Rusty riding passenger, flight instructor Chris Fitzgerald launches the training hovercraft onto the Wabash River …

On the banks of the Wabash, Fitzgerald gives Rusty a final briefing before he gets his chance to fly …

At the controls, Rusty sails up the Wabash River, with Fitzgerald providing continuous feedback …

Back at HTC headquarters, Rusty (center) receives his hovercraft pilot and maintenance certification …

After a full day of experiencing everything hovercraft, it turns out Rusty and Debbie are not sure hovercraft are right for them. This is why it’s so important to “Fly before you buy” at HTC!




19 September 2013

HudsonMOD: “Score! The Future has arrived with the Hovercraft Golf Cart!"

People just can’t get enough of Bubba’s Hover and the role HTC and Neoteric Hovercraft played in this global phenomenon! The tsunami of publicity still continues.

The luxury lifestyle magazine HudsonMOD lets readers in the New York City metropolitan area experience the best the world has to offer, reflected in the magazine’s tagline, “Life well lived.” Deciding that the Neoteric HoverGolf™ Cart, supported by training at HTC, fits into the 'world's best' category, HudsonMOD featured it in this month’s issue …

HudsonMOD
September 2013
THE WOW – You know you want it

Neoteric HoverGolf™ Cart


A video that could have been taken on any golf course shows your run-of-the-mill golf cart winding down a paved pathway. But suddenly, a larger cart flashes across the screen. Never mind that the driver of this floating golf cart is none other than 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson, who deadpans with a nonchalant stare back at a gawking golfer. The golfer looks like he’s seen something he can’t very well explain. Yes, that’s a hovercraft on the links. Welcome to the future.

What started as a clever marketing stunt earlier this year by Thinkmodo to drive interest to Bubba Watson’s promotional deal with Oakley has had another, truly astonishing, effect. Since being uploaded to YouTube, the video “Bubba’s Hover” has gone viral, receiving more than eight million views thus far and garnering worldwide media attention for Neoteric, the manufacturers of rescue, military and commercial hovercrafts - and now the first hovercraft golf cart on the planet, the BW1

Since the viral video hit YouTube, we’ve been deluged with inquiries from all over the world,” says Filip Przybysz, an executive at Neoteric. The prototype bearing Watson’s initials has given rise to 100 limited-edition HoverGolf carts that are custom manufactured at the close of each sale. “At this point, we have shipped the first order and are in the process of shipping the second to customers in the US,” he says.

One of the recipients of the accommodating four-passenger, two-golf-bag, 65-horsepower vehicle is the Windy Knoll Golf Club, in Springfield, OH, which recently became the first golf course in the US to purchase two $58,000 hovercrafts with lift-up roofs and the latest noise-reducing fan technology. But why wait for your local golf course to follow suit with futuristic rides? You could be piloting a cushion of air across water hazards in no time with your very own personal hovercraft.

Finally, a reason to smile about spraying a shot: You get to drive in a BW1 to find the ball. The future has arrived. Score!


###

As the article says, “Why wait for your local golf course to offer futuristic rides? The future here at HTC, where you can easily sign up for a Hovercraft Test Flight or Training Course right now!

Then, enjoy a few photos of the Neoteric HoverGolf™ Cart in action at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey and the Heritage Club and Four Bridges Country Club in Ohio …








17 September 2013

Hovercraft Golf Cart Training

By now you probably know that Windy Knoll Golf Club in Springfield, Ohio is the first golf course in the world to feature Neoteric HoverGolf™ Carts - the official replicas of Bubba’s Hover. What you may not know is Windy Knoll personnel were trained at HTC!

Windy Knoll General Manager Dave Duffey and Golf Course Superintendent Gary Price traveled to HTC headquarters to undergo pilot and maintenance training before their hovering golf carts debuted. As Dave said before his training began, “It’s just like with the equipment we use to maintain our golf course – if you don’t train properly, you pay the price for that in repairs.”

After intensive classroom training, Dave and Gary, like every HTC trainee, learn to perform a thorough preflight inspection before a hovercraft – golf cart or not – is fired up …

Wireless headsets in place for constant communication, Gary (left) and Dave (right) are all set for their first flight training session at the Wabash River with flight instructor Chris Fitzgerald (center). Yes, this is a flying golf cart! …

With Dave in the passenger seat, instructor Chris Fitzgerald launches the Windy Knoll HoverGolf™ onto the river. Warning: Don’t try this in your traditional old golf cart! …
video

Flying easily up the river, Dave appreciates the exceptional maneuverability of his new hover golf cart – on water hazards, sand traps or greens …
video

Concerns about the hovercraft golf cart’s noise? Well, if it doesn’t fluster the wildlife, it isn’t going to disturb golfers! …

After earning their hovercraft pilot certification at HTC, Dave and Gary both agreed that training was a “very humbling experience. We can’t imagine owning a hovercraft without the kind of training HTC offers.” ...

And their afternoon of flight training showed them the versatility of the hovercraft golf cart. It isn’t just good for the greens – it’s good for a fishing trip or river cruise after that round of golf. Or how about ice fishing or hovering over snow in winter when golf courses are closed? You can learn how to do it all at Hovercraft Training Centers!


13 September 2013

Pete Garland: "It's all about excitement, adventure!"

Pete Garland of Coldspring, Texas, is a retired oil company engineer who enrolled in a Hovercraft Training Centers course for the same reason he went into the oil business: “It’s interesting – and I look for excitement, adventure.”

Pete Garland (left) receives his hovercraft pilot certification from HTC President Chris Fitzgerald.
But to Pete, retirement is definitely not the world’s longest coffee break. He has jet skis, four wheelers, a couple of boats and four ATVs – and grandchildren to enjoy his vehicles with him. He explains why he signed up for training before buying a hovercraft: “The reason I thought about a hovercraft is it looks like it could be a new adventure, a lot of fun. But I don’t think you can just toss your keys to the grandkids and say, ‘Here, give it a go’ like you can with jet skis. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. And I’m not sure how you repair these things, so today I’ll learn.”

And he did. After a morning of classroom and maintenance training, Pete learned how to conduct a preflight inspection before his first flight training session …


Pete first learned about hovercraft from his son-in-law, an avid golfer who got really excited when he saw the Bubba’s Hover viral video of the hovercraft golf cart Neoteric created for Bubba Watson. “He’s just as excited about me coming here for training,” Pete says. “He wants me to buy him a hovercraft, too!

Before his flight session began, Pete anticipated that flying a hovercraft would be different than operating other watercraft: “Directly on the water you have a lot of control, but from reading the manual, when you’re floating on air there’s a little more of a control issue.”

But control wasn’t an issue once he learned to fly. In the pilot seat, Pete takes over the hovercraft controls while HTC instructor Chris Fitzgerald provides constant guidance …

At the end of his training day, when asked what three words would best describe him, Pete said, “Adventurous, outgoing and in good health.” Then he added, “I’m not too old for this!”

You bet he isn’t! As Henry Ford - a man who knew a thing or two about vehicles - said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”


Hold back time - learn to fly a hovercraft!


11 September 2013

Walt Sitz, Eagle Wings, Inc. – A Man on a Mission

Walt Sitz is a man on a mission – and he’s making a hovercraft part of that mission.  He signed up for training at HTC before his hovercraft purchase. “Training should be the first step in any vehicle. You don’t just jump in a plane and say ‘I think I can figure it out.’ If you can’t, the alternatives are not good!”

His wife Pat, who listened to Walt's entire flight training via wireless headsets, adds, “It’s like flying an airplane; you have to fly so many hours before you can solo, and can’t get a license until you’ve done 40 hours.

They should know: Walt has been in the aviation business for 25 years – from piloting planes to aircraft maintenance and repair to marketing powered parachutes and more. “I was raised on a ranch, and when a plane would fly over, I always said ‘That’s what I want to do,’” he explains. “It’s in my blood.”

Even though he’s one of those lucky people who’ve turned their hobbies into their life’s work, Walt doesn’t see recreational vehicles as just for pleasure. He says, “From way back I’ve always first thought, ‘How can it be used to help people.’ Boats, parachutes, snowmobiles, motorcycles, four wheelers – they can all be used to help people.

His company, Eagle Wings, Inc. in Burns, Oregon, is affiliated with Crisis Response International, a non-profit organization that provides rescue and relief support to humanitarian missions worldwide. Walt explains what sparked his interest in hovercraft: “I deployed to New York for Hurricane Sandy – loaded our Forest Ranger with all my tools and equipment and used it to set up a base camp. You can try to row a boat through the flood debris, but if I could deploy with a hovercraft, that’s what would be used. It’s a natural addition.”

After thorough classroom training, Walt began his flight training with a complete preflight inspection, guided by HTC chief instructor Chris Fitzgerald ...

With  a thumbs-up, the training craft is launched onto the Wabash River, where Walt will soon take over the controls. His positive attitude serves him well - as his wife Pat describes him, "Don't tell him he can't, because he can!" ...

And he did! His day at HTC boosted Walt's "can-do" confidence: "We got into one spot that you could never get into with a boat or anything else, and we turned around right in this tree with barely enough room for the craft and the current running fast through the tree. You could have rescued someone off that tree. That showed me right there what a hovercraft can do. It was pretty unbelievable!"

After a productive training day, Walt receives his pilot certification from Chris Fitzgerald ...

Now on to his next mission: with his natural mechanical bent, Walt has chosen to build his own hovercraft from a Neoteric Partially-Assembled Hovercraft Kit.




09 September 2013

Rescue Hovercraft Training: Prairieton Fire Department

David Phelps and Ben Cottrell of the Prairieton, Indiana Fire Department have joined first responders throughout the world who rely on hovercraft for rescue operations. After purchasing a Neoteric rescue hovercraft from the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency, their first order of business was to sign up for training at HTC.

David and Ben had taken the craft on a couple of trial runs before their training course. David, a 50-year veteran of the of the department, whose father was on the department as well, says, “It’s not rocket science, but it’s something you need to train to do. We had an opportunity to use it on a water rescue, but I opted to wait until we get our training. I think training is the most important thing there is about anything, especially firefighting. We want to be sure we know how to do everything properly and not hurt anyone – or ourselves!”

After completing their course, Ben (left) and David (right) receive their hovercraft pilot and maintenance certification from HTC president Chris Fitzgerald (center) …

Classroom training completed, David and Ben start pilot training at the HTC training site at the Wabash River. From proper technique for unloading a craft from its trailer, to flying on water and land, to maintaining the craft between runs, all HTC courses cover every aspect of operating a hovercraft … 

Wireless headsets allow constant communication between the instructor and all trainees during flight training at HTC … 

Flight instructor Chris Fitzgerald launches the craft onto the Wabash River for the first training run, with Ben in the passenger seat … 

Ben quickly takes over the controls on the river, with Chris Fitzgerald providing continuous instruction … 

At the end of his flight training, Ben easily transitions from water to land as he flies the hovercraft up the boat ramp … 

Now in the hands of trained, knowledgeable pilots, the Prairieton Fire Department will use their hovercraft for flood and ice rescues. “There’s a lot of flooding in our area; we’ve rescued a lot of people from stranded vehicles and flooded homes. We've had a lot of ice rescues, too,” Dave explains.

First responders: 
Learn how hovercraft can make your job easier, safer and more effective -



03 September 2013

From Gyrocopters to Hovercraft: Paul Biggerstaff

Paul Biggerstaff of Woosung, Illinois is a "get it done" kinda guy: "I'm the driven type of individual that gets it done - and I get bored easily."  A skydiver and gyrocopter pilot, he chose hovercraft as his next adventure. In his see-it-through manner, Paul quickly honed in on a unique Neoteric Hovertrek with a hand-painted camouflage color scheme:

A week later, Paul brought his craft to Hovercraft Training Centers to undergo the standard pilot and maintenance training course. As he explains, "Training is very important. For instance, gyroplanes are notorious for people building them at home, then they go out and play around and think they can do practice on the runway and do some loops, and it ends up on its side - and there goes ten grand!"

His approach is definitely in accord with HTC founder Chris Fitzgerald's analogy comparing successful hovercraft operation to a three-legged stool. Each leg is equally important and all three are needed to prevent the stool from collapsing:

Leg 1: A hovercraft that is properly engineered and supported technically;
Leg 2: Thorough pilot training;
Leg 3: A comprehensive maintenance training program.

We congratulate Paul on his foresight and follow-through ... and invite you to enjoy watching him "get-it-done" during his day at HTC ...

After a morning of intensive classroom training at HTC headquarters, Chris Fitzgerald treats Paul to lunch at the Clabber Girl Museum, home to an antique Indy race car ... 

At the Wabash River training site, Fitzgerald shows Paul how to easily unload his hovercraft from its custom trailer ... 

 A wireless headset check, and it's thumbs-up for Paul's first flight training session ...

From the preflight inspection to loading the hovercraft back onto its trailer after flight training, all HTC courses provide constant as-you-go instruction to trainees ...

Paul may take a serious approach to training - but as Fitzgerald launches the craft onto the river, it looks like he just might enjoy it, too! ... 

Paul takes the helm for the rest of the afternoon, while Fitzgerald gives him steady instruction ...

Back at HTC headquarters, Fitzgerald presents Paul with his official hovercraft pilot certification, before he heads back home for some river adventures not possible in other vehicles. "I live in a river town and have a pontoon and I've had ski boats. But the hovercraft is very interesting because we have a lot of sand bars and mudflats - it'll be perfect for those!" ...


Feel driven to fly a hovercraft?
Take a test flight or sign up for a flight training course!