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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.”

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