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28 April 2014

Is a hovercraft right for you? Here’s how the world decides!

You may not think of Terre Haute, Indiana as a global destination. But, thanks to Hovercraft Training Centers and Neoteric Hovercraft, that’s what this city has become.

As far back as 1976, Indiana Business Magazine labeled Terre Haute the “Small Hovercraft Capital of the World” - just a year after Neoteric moved from Australia to the USA and made Terre Haute its headquarters. Today, it might be appropriate to update the name to the “Hovercraft Training Capital of the World” - every week we have people from multiple nations coming to HTC for hovercraft training and test flights on Neoteric craft.

This week, just two of the nations represented for HTC test flights were Saudi Arabia and Canada. You've already met the delegation from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of the Interior; now we’d like to introduce you to our Canadian visitors.

In their quest to learn more about hovercraft, David Gingell (front left), his friend Akhter Mirza (back right) and Akhter’s young son Shaan Mirza (back left), traveled from Saskatchewan, Canada to Terre Haute for a test flight with HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald (front right)

Before launching the HTC Neoteric craft onto the Wabash River, Fitzgerald gives them a few spins to demonstrate the capabilities of the hovercraft’s reverse thrust system …

Off they go, flying onto a smooth but slightly flooded river on a perfect Spring day in Indiana …

An HTC test flight includes flying up and down the river, over sandbars, into shallow waters and various terrain that fully demonstrates the unique capabilities of hovercraft …

After transitioning back to shore, David, Ahkter and Shaan returned to HTC headquarters to fully discuss with Chris Fitzgerald the pros and cons of hovercraft for their intended application …

David and Ahkter were originally considering starting a hovercraft ride venture, but now they’re thinking about the possibility of opening a dealership in Canada. But whether you’re exploring a business opportunity or considering a hovercraft just for fun, there’s no better way to find out if your idea is a good one than to take a test flight. And an HTC Test Flight gives you far more than can be shown in just a few photos. Your test flight will:

·         Take you through ground training to teach you the core principles of hovercraft operation and maintenance;
·         Teach you to conduct a thorough pre-flight and post-flight inspection;
·         Let you experience the full capabilities of hovercraft in action, including takeoff, land-to-water transitions, reverse thrust performance, turning, spinning and accessing difficult areas such as shallow water, mud and other terrain.  
·         Give you a thorough question-and-answer session, with input from experts to help you decide if a hovercraft is the right choice for you.

26 April 2014

HTC trainee takes advantage of “Fly before you buy”

Allen Hoopes of Freedom, Wyoming has been interested in hovercraft since he was a kid. “I’d read about them over the years when I was younger. Then I starting seeing articles on the Internet -  one that really piqued my interest was the Neoteric hovercraft deer rescue.

His interest was piqued even further by the Neoteric craft’s reverse thrust system. “It has the ability to reverse, whereas most of what’s out there is forward only,” he explains, “That’s a unique characteristic.”

So Allen contacted Neoteric to explore buying a hovercraft – and he was encouraged to first take a training course at HTC to learn about hovercraft in depth and learn to fly one before he buys one.
At the HTC training site on the Wabash River, Allen checks out the Neoteric hovercraft’s reverse thrust buckets
– which were a main factor in bringing him to Hovercraft Training Centers.
Allen is no stranger to flying – or to boating. “I enjoy water sports and I have a boat,” he says, “And I’ve flown in the past – I got up to a solo point, but didn’t finish. To stay safe in an aircraft you need to have at least one takeoff and one landing per month. There was just too much time involved, so I traded in my plane for a boat. And my wife was always concerned about my flying.

He was quick to recognize that a hovercraft is a flying machine. “It’s definitely a form of aircraft because it’s airborne and has similar principles to an airplane,” he observes, “But a hovercraft is the best of both worlds because I can fly yet stay close to the ground.

After full morning of classroom training, then learning how to conduct a preflight inspection,
Allen is ready to take off on his first flight training session.
And they’re off!
Allen enjoyed his day of learning to fly safely at HTC. “It was a great day, very interesting. The classroom session was a good review of the craft and its systems. It linked well with the afternoon flight training and helped me understand the principles that were going on, particularly the physics behind it. Really helpful.

He added, “It would be hard to control without the reverse thrust buckets, especially in small spaces where you’d need to stop or back out or spin around.”

Both Allen’s sense of humor and Chris Fitzgerald’s were flying as well. “I think I might have made Chris nervous, flying around some trees and some carp! He said I was trying too hard, overcompensating, and kept telling me to loosen up,” Allen laughs, “He said maybe we should have brought a bottle of whiskey along!”

Smiling at the end of his training day, Allen Hoopes (right) receives his Hovercraft Pilot Certification
from HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald.
After becoming a certified hovercraft pilot, Allen was asked what he thought would happen to someone venturing out in a hovercraft with no training. His response? “I don’t think I’d want to ride with them!”

Now that he knows what hovercraft are all about, Allen says, “I’m sure there’ll be a learning curve, but I’m still intrigued and still very interested in owning one. We have five children and the primary use will be family time on the lakes and rivers in our area, which we have a lot of. It will give us better access to some of those areas.”

Want to fly before you buy? Take a Training Course or Test Flight!

24 April 2014

Hovercraft Training: An educational experience for all ages

Hovercraft are not only all-weather, all-terrain vehicles – they’re all-ages vehicles, too! Hovercraft Training Centers’ graduates range from pre-teens to octogenarians. And when it comes to youth, HTC is actively involved in using hovercraft to enrich the educational experiences of students across the world.

As an example, HTC founder and Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald recently spent a Saturday at Sarah Scott Middle School in Terre Haute, IN showing students how learning can soar to new heights with hovercraft. Sarah Scott technology instructor Mark Kirby was looking for a way to prepare his students for their upcoming ISTEP tests. So he and his fellow teachers invited Fitzgerald to present a classroom session and take the kids for rides on an HTC Neoteric training hovercraft.

Besides learning all about hovercraft and the math and physics involved, the students played with remote controlled hovercraft and a hovering billiard ball built by Neoteric for the comedian Gallagher; they built their own hovercraft from CDs – and they were treated to actual rides in the HTC training hovercraft.

The students enjoyed guiding a Gallagher “hovering billiard ball” around the room. This is one of 15 “hovering
billiard balls” Neoteric manufactured for the U.S. comedian Gallagher – a small hovercraft powered by a
leaf blower and equipped with jupe skirts. Gallagher’s were built with a billiard ball top, not attached on this model.
Mark Kirby describes the program, “We wanted to use the hovercraft as a vehicle to show students that the math and language arts skills tested on ISTEP have a practical application. We invited any middle school student interested in participating and invited at least one of their parents. As it turned out, we had a few siblings attend that weren’t quite middle school age, making it a true family activity. So the ages ranged from 3rd graders to 8th graders (ages 8-14).

Using a small remote controlled hovercraft, Fitzgerald explains hovercraft skirts and their importance
in trapping the cushion air under the hovercraft - how the skirt acts as a seal to hold air under the craft.
And then the students moved on to the real thing! They were thrilled with their first ride ever
in a hovercraft around the school parking lot.
The day was a huge success. Not only did the students discover that studying can be fun, there seems to be no doubt that their experience is likely to improve their ISTEP scores.

We at HTC encourage teachers, school administrators and parents worldwide to take advantage of the interest hovercraft arouse and how easily they can excite kids about math, physics and other areas of learning. Studying is fun when it involves hovercraft!

Teachers & parents: Check out the links below to learn more:

19 April 2014

HTC Trains Rescue Hovercraft Pilots in Viet Nam

Hovercraft Training Centers’ Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald recently travelled to Hanoi to conduct hovercraft flight and maintenance training for first responders from Viet Nam’s National Department of Rescue and Relief, as well as personnel from Tuyet NGA Co. Ltd., a security and rescue equipment supplier.

Tuyet NGA purchased two Neoteric rescue hovercraft, which will be used by the National Emergency Response Team of the Department of Rescue and Relief. The Department, under the Ministry of National Defense, is responsible for coordinating both military and non-military forces in search and rescue operations and disaster relief.

Chris Fitzgerald and the Chief of the National Department of Rescue and Relief shake hands during the formal acceptance of the delivery of their two new rescue hovercraft ...

 At Viet Nam’s Emergency Response Training headquarters near Hanoi, Chris Fitzgerald and officials from Tuyet NGA and the Department of Rescue and Relief join hands in a symbolic gesture of partnership …
From left: Mr. Vu Van Nam, Sales Manager, Tuyet NGA Co. Ltd.; Mr Vo Ha Trung, Head of Specialized Rescue; Unidentified member of 249 Brigade; Mr. Nguyen Duc Chien, Deputy Director, Natl. Rescue Dept.; Chris Fitzgerald, Senior Instructor, Hovercraft Training Centers, LLC; Major General Pham Hoai Giang, Director, Natl. Rescue Dept.;  Mrs. Phan Thi Van Anh, Vice General Director, Tuyet NGA Co. Ltd.; Unidentified member of 249 Brigade; Mr. Nguyen Dinh Khiem, Financial Dept. Chief, Natl. Rescue Dept.; Col. Nguyen Huu Hung, Brigadier, 249 Brigade; Mr. Nguyen Bao Tan, Financial Dept. Assistant, Natl. Rescue Dept.

Flight trainees and government officials gather to watch Fitzgerald’s first demo of one of their new Neoteric 6-passenger rescue hovercraft …

Watch a video of Fitzgerald demonstrating the extreme maneuverability the patented reverse thrust system gives to all Neoteric hovercraft as flight training begins on Suoi Hai Lake at the Emergency Response Training Facility near Hanoi …

We at Hovercraft Training Centers are honored to partner with Tuyet NGA and the Department of Rescue and Relief. Their two Neoteric rescue hovercraft – and their expertly trained pilots – will be a great asset in a nation so often plagued by monsoons and floods.

18 April 2014

HTC grads rescue Texas hitchhiker tossed from bridge

Seeing Hovercraft Training Centers’ graduates in the news for their mud rescue operations is becoming a commonplace occurrence. First, the headlines abounded with the vital role they played in the Washington mudslide rescue and recovery efforts – and this week in Texas, Wylie Fire-Rescue hit the news for an out-of-the-ordinary mud rescue operation.

Wednesday night, 23-year-old Mario Otteson hitched a ride with a van full of teenage guys at a rest stop near Dallas. But he got far more than a ride! The teens stopped the van on the bridge over Lake Ray Hubbard, dragged Mario out, punched him several times, and then hurled him off the bridge into the lake.

But Mario didn’t land in water. Because of drought conditions, water levels are low and he sunk instead into thick mud and couldn’t escape. Luckily he had a cell phone and called 9-1-1. When the Dallas Police and Dallas Fire-Rescue couldn’t get him out of the mud, they knew to call someone who could: Wylie Fire-Rescue’s HTC-trained hovercraft pilots and their Neoteric Rescue HoverTrek™.

Wylie’s first responders quickly and easily flew their craft through the mire and extricated Mario, who fortunately suffered only a few scrapes but no serious injuries.

Here’s just another example of how important hovercraft and thorough training are to law enforcement and rescue agencies when they need to access areas that boats and even helicopters can’t reach. And we bet this is one hitchhiker who is now giving a real ‘thumbs up’ to HTC and Neoteric Hovercraft!

First Responders: Learn more about rescue hovercraft flight training

10 April 2014

Weather is No Obstacle for a Hovercraft – or for Flight Training

Larry Borland may not be a postman, but the postal creed, “Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail shall keep the couriers from their appointed rounds” certainly applied to his training day at HTC!

Just like a hovercraft can handle any sort of weather, so can Larry, a 71-year-old retired farmer from North Dakota. Braving a gray, rainy day and a fast-flowing, flooded Wabash River, Larry enthusiastically completed thorough – if soggy – pilot and maintenance training in his new Neoteric hovercraft last weekend at HTC headquarters.

Here Larry (center), accompanied by his son Brent (left) receives his hovercraft pilot certification from HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald. Of course, the rain let up after drenching him during his training!

Larry first thought about buying a Neoteric hovercraft kit and building it himself, with some help from his son, Brent, who owns a repair shop, but then he decided to buy a fully-assembled craft. Judging from his expression as he starts his flight training, he seems to be pleased with it! 

Why a hovercraft? Larry, who lives on a lake, says, “I don’t walk so well anymore and it’ll be nice to step into something on dry ground – I’ve watched people trying to launch their boats – and hover right out into the lake. It’s easier access. I can give my grandkids rides and do some fishing and maybe some hunting in it.”

Brent, an avid outdoorsman, has a camper in a marina on the same lake, and another of Larry’s sons has a camper on another lake, so you can bet this hovercraft is going to be a family affair!

While learning to conduct a preflight inspection, Larry said even though he’d never been on a hovercraft before, he’d flown airplanes and had a “pretty good idea about how aerodynamics work," so he thought training would be fairly easy.

Before they launch the craft on the flooded Wabash River, Chris demonstrates to Larry the Neoteric HoverTrek’s patented reverse thrust system, which gives the craft the ability to spin, fly backwards and brake. “The brakes will be nice!” Larry observed.

Out on the river, Chris shows Larry the extreme boat-like floating stability of the hovercraft – it’s certainly much more stable than the weather!

At the conclusion of his training, Larry said, “I’ve read that hovercraft are similar to airplanes in some ways, but in many ways they’re not. It was a lot different than I thought it was going to be; they operate very differently and the training was really unique. I have a lot of things to think about at 3 o’clock in the morning when I do my best thinking!”

What would Larry say to someone who wanted to fly a hovercraft without training? “I think they’d better rearrange their thinking. Without training from someone who has experience, they can kiss their you-know-what goodbye!”

Now a fully-trained hovercraft pilot, Larry is ready to take his new craft back to North Dakota for some fun times ahead – hopefully in better weather!

See for yourself why a hovercraft is the perfect all-weather recreational vehicle …

Take a Test Flight

06 April 2014

The HTC HoverPup – A paparazzi magnet!

Joey Meyers, the Official Hovercraft Training Centers HoverPup, is moving right up there with Bubba’s Hover when it comes to attracting publicity. Joey and his dad, HTC grad Gary Meyers, just finished a photo shoot for their upcoming feature in Arizona’s Coastal Life Magazine, “Fun Stuff People Do in Lake Havasu City.”

From the left: Coastal Life photographer Eddo Early, reporter Kevin Baird, Gary Meyers, and HoverPup Joey are all set to hover for the camera in their one-of-a-kind Neoteric hovercraft …

As always, Joey the was the major attraction at the photo shoot, geared up in his puppy shades and Mutt Muffs, ready to give flight instructions to his parents Gary and Pam …

(Sorry, pup not included!)