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17 March 2014

A wise business move for Wilderness Place Lodge: an HTC Test Flight

Buying a hovercraft can be a smart business move. But a wise businessman doesn’t make impulsive decisions. Instead, he gathers information, researches options and conducts a thorough analysis before he commits to a capital outlay. Cory Wendt of Madison, Wisconsin exemplifies that wisdom – and that’s what brought him to Hovercraft Training Centers.

While in college, Cory and his friend Jason Rockvam of Clancy, Montana, worked as guides at a fishing lodge in Lake Creek, Alaska. It so impressed them that they made a business decision: for the last 13 years they have owned and operated Wilderness Place Lodge - and it’s now one of the top five fishing lodges in Alaska.

The Lodge is located on Lake Creek River, which offers some of the finest spin and fly fishing in Alaska. But it also offers gravel bars, islands, pinched-off oxbow backwaters, shallow waters and other areas boats and other vehicles can’t access. Cory and Jason pride themselves on providing their guests with the best Alaska fishing experience, keeping it up-close-and-personal – and flexible. To add to that flexibility, they decided to add a hovercraft to their fleet of 18-ft. boats. As Cory says, “If one little point is an impasse for our guests, it spoils the trip.”

How about an airboat; wouldn’t that work? Cory says no: “I don’t think airboats are that great. We wouldn’t use one. Our guests wouldn’t come; it would be too loud. They come up to get away from everything and airboats are just deafeningly loud. And airboats are very difficult to control coming downstream. A hovercraft is the practical tool to get us from point A to point B.” 

So Cory conducted his due diligence and made another wise business decision: he came to HTC for Test Flights on a 4-passenger and a 6-passenger Neoteric hovercraft …

Cory (center) and his father Bob Wendt (right) board a 4-passenger craft for a flight on the Wabash River with HTC instructor Steve Stafford (left) …

And off they go - to join a second HTC Test Flight also in progress ...

Before smoothly landing the craft onto the boat ramp, Steve gives a final demo of the unusual maneuverability of the Neoteric HoverTrek™ due to its patented reverse thrust system. (And no, he didn't lose a passenger on the river! The two Test Flights in progress switched passengers so they could fly on both the 4- and 6-passenger craft) …

But an HTC Test Flight isn’t just ‘take a quick spin and go home’ – we spend time with you to help you make the right decision. Here, Cory and Chris Fitzgerald, HTC Senior Instructor and Neoteric President, thoroughly go over Google Earth views of Lake Creek River to discuss which hovercraft model would best meet his needs …

After two HTC Test Flights, during which Cory had the chance to take the controls, he was impressed with the flexibility of the hovercraft. “It was smoother than expected. I didn’t expect it to be able to go through all the mud and sticks. I figured all those sticks would break up the air flow, but they didn’t.

And Cory immediately understood the importance of proper training. “I didn’t fully have an appreciation until I drove it; it started to feel a lot more like an aircraft. I could understand why training is important – I’d read it and heard it but didn’t really appreciate it until I was at the controls.”

What would he say to someone who wants to buy a hovercraft and just take off in it with no training? “DON’T. At the Lodge, we require our boat captains to practice ten 8- to 10-hour days before they carry passengers. Training is a must.” And he added, “We’re also the first responders, and I don’t want to have to respond to an accident that we caused.

So, whether Cory decides on a 4- passenger or a 6-passenger hovercraft for Wilderness Place Lodge, he definitely intends to undergo an HTC training course when he picks up his new craft – another very wise business decision!

Read more about Wilderness Place Lodge
Experience your own HTC Test Flight


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