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27 May 2014

HTC grad featured on NatGeo TV’s “None of the Above”

There are two sure ways to end up in the spotlight: 1) Learn to fly a hovercraft at HTC, and 2) Own a Neoteric hovercraft. Just ask Gary Meyers: he and his hovercraft, which he named “Neo”, are becoming nearly as famous as Bubba’s Hover!

See for yourself this fall, when Gary and “Neo” will be featured on National Geographic TV’s None of the Above, hosted by the popular British host Tim Shaw. Shaw is a child science whiz turned stunt-happy engineer, who pairs science, humor and stunts on None of the Above “to amaze and dumbfound in equal measure. He challenges the people he meets, and the audience at home, to predict the outcome of a series of ever more spectacular experiments before uncovering the science behind the jaw-dropping outcomes.”
Gary Meyers (left) and Tim Shaw (right) get set for some stunt hovering on Lake Las Vegas.
Here’s a great video preview of the filming on Nevada’s stunning Las Lake Vegas …

You’ve probably seen Gary’s custom hovercraft before and may be wondering what happened to all its artwork. NatGeo felt his craft was so striking it might be distracting! “I was asked to cover the Tek-Wrap logos and images so as to not distract viewers, so Neo was all white,” Gary explains.

Gary reviews the filming: “Tim Shaw rode in the hovercraft with me on several “test flights” where we spun around on Lake Las Vegas and then flew up the beach toward the cameras and other participants. On the first take, I was to run perpendicularly up the sloped beach and stop right in front of multiple TV cameras. No problem – perfect landing! (Thanks to Hovercraft Training Centers, Chris Fitzgerald and Neoteric!) We filmed this approach four separate times at my fastest possible speed, and each time I landed almost exactly on the same spot.

The hovercraft was the main feature of the entire episode,” Gary adds. “I also did a separate interview where I described the Neoteric HoverTrek's features and benefits, and I hope that my many positive comments will survive the editing process!

Enjoy a few more photos of the filming while you wait for Gary and Neo to make your jaw drop this fall on NatGeo’s None of the Above. And leave a comment below to let us know what you think and if you plan to watch the show!

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20 May 2014

Marc Sidell: “Training is the key to success.”

Marc Sidell of Seattle, Washington is a boater and a pilot, and he even considered flying professionally at one point. Since he lives near the Boeing factory, and because several of his friends are pilots, flying came naturally to him. Also, he lives near the San Juan Islands and “It takes awhile to get to them by boat, but with an airplane it’s much faster. And with an airplane you can fly all over the place,” he says.

 But Marc wants to stop flying. He explains, “I want to transition out of that because it’s gotten quite expensive - and also you have the possibility of dying!”

So he turned to hovercraft as a way to fly safely 9 inches above the ground, with less expense. And as an experienced pilot, he knew the place to start was to take a training course at HTC. “It’s like a plane; you need to train and put time in on it,” he says, “Otherwise, it could be dangerous.

After a full day of training, Marc Sidell (left) accepts his Hovercraft Pilot Certification from Chris Fitzgerald (right).
Marc thoroughly enjoyed his training course. “It was the best day, and very eye opening,” he says, “And I loved the safety of being trained by someone so experienced and qualified. Even though it felt a little humbling at first to perform around Chris, who is so skilled, it was very comfortable to have him around.

His training left Marc even more interested in the possibility of owning a hovercraft: “It’s versatile and you can go just about anyplace – like you can fly up a steep boat ramp. I think a hovercraft gives you a lot of independence and freedom to do things you wouldn’t dare do otherwise.”

And his day at HTC fully convinced him that training is the place to start. “Training is the key to success,” Marc says, “Anyone who attempts to fly a hovercraft without training is an idiot, point blank!

Enjoy a few photos of Marc’s flight training session at HTC …

Wearing wireless headsets for constant communication with HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald during his training session, Marc is ready for his first flight in a hovercraft at the Wabash River training site.
Chris Fitzgerald fully reviews the operation of all the hovercraft’s controls with Marc before launching the craft onto the river.
And they’re off, with Fitzgerald in the pilot’s seat to explain maneuvers before Marc takes over the controls.
After a morning classroom session where he learned everything about hovercraft and their operation, then a flight demonstration with Chris Fitzgerald, Marc easily flies the craft down the Wabash River to practice what he’s learned.

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09 May 2014

Paul DiFuccia: “I decided to learn from the best – so I came to HTC.”

Paul DiFuccia is an experienced decision-maker. He used his accounting degree to become Vice-President of General Mills, one of the world’s largest food companies, then he became President/Chief Operating Officer of an international company based in Manhattan, New York. When he retired, he decided to move back to Erie, Pennsylvania, his hometown, where he and his wife Janice are part owners of a winery.

Paul is also an experienced sailor, so he knows a thing or two about watercraft. “I grew up with powerboats and water skiing on Lake Erie and became a sailor. I’ve sailed all over mostly North America the last 47 years.”  As a Master License Captain, Paul explained, “I learned very quickly that you have ownership of people’s safety when they’re riding in your craft. So I decided to learn from the best. I want to be comfortable that I can control the hovercraft before I ever buy one or put someone I love in it. That’s why I’m here.”
After a morning of classroom training, HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald (left) teaches Paul to conduct a preflight inspection before his pilot training begins on the Wabash River. In the background, a Tribune-Star reporter photographs the session for an article about HTC.
When Paul sold his sailboat last year, he and Janice were looking for a way to get back on the water, which they both love. He’d taken up golf, but discovered he was “terrible at it!” Ironically, he discovered hovercraft through golf in, of all places, a cigar shop. “I was having a cigar and reading a cigar aficionado magazine and there was an article about Bubba Watson and Neoteric’s hovercraft golf cart. So I decided ‘I’m gonna follow up on this!’”

Why a hovercraft? Again, it goes back to Paul’s love of decision-making. Before his HTC training course began, he explained, “Jet skis, for instance, are mindless. You get on and you just drive. For the first 15 to 20 minutes, they’re interesting; after that, they’re not. With sailing, as opposed to powerboats, you have to constantly be computing in your mind – the difference in the wind, sail trim, etc. I think hovercraft will probably be closer to sailing, in that you’ll need to make decisions based on wind forces, balance, trim and such. And I find that much more engaging. It keeps my interest, where on a jet ski you’re just going fast on the water. I always like to be challenged, to learn new things and be engaged. Hovercraft are much less ‘mindless’ than other things you can do on the water.

 Janice adds, “The thing he’s not telling you is he likes to be unique and do things that nobody else around is doing! 
Paul is about to learn how to ‘mindfully’ fly a hovercraft as Fitzgerald launches the craft onto the river
for his flight training session.
Paul and Janice also realized that, as an all-season vehicle, a hovercraft will expand the time they can spend outdoors. “In our climate a jet ski or sailboat is usable on Lake Erie only about three months of the year,” Paul explains. “I want to extend the season and a hovercraft will allow me to do that so I can go out in the fall and winter and when the bay freezes over on the lake I can zip across.

During his day of flight training with HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald, Paul learned some new and challenging things about making decisions. Overall, he said, “It was exhilarating, a wonderful experience! It’s not unlike sailing in a lot of ways, except it’s in two more dimensions, so you’re very involved as you fly the machine. And with the reverse thrust, the spins are every little boy’s dream! It’s phenomenal!
Paul’s enjoyment of learning something new is apparent during his flight training.
 But he learned that the decisions you make in flying a hovercraft are a bit different than the decisions you make in operating other watercraft. “As a sailor you stay away from the shore, you stay away from floating objects. Chris took me into some very tight situations and a couple of times he was instructing me to steer into the shore and logs and debris and I wouldn’t; I told him ‘There’s something wrong with this!’”

Paul continues, “So we stopped and discussed my concern about getting close to obstacles and such because of my experience in sailing. Then we went into some very, very shallow areas, with large rocks and logs. The debris that a sailor or boater would steer clear of, we aimed for and flew right over it! We flew right OVER logs and debris! So it was counterintuitive in some ways.
Even though at first Paul thought Fitzgerald “was a little crazy” to steer right into obstacles, he soon learned that flying a hovercraft is different than sailing a boat.
At the end of the day, Paul concluded that his HTC training course was a wise decision. “This was a good investment of time, there’s no question about it; it’s proven from every perspective. To venture out on a hovercraft without training would be craziness. The only way to go if you’re going to do this, and do it safely, is to get the training.

Paul also observed that thorough training also increases the capabilities of your hovercraft. “If you’re going to spend the money for a hovercraft, training expands the use potential. Without it, you won’t get the full experience and will never fully understand the capabilities of the craft.  The things Chris taught me - by getting into some tight situations, flipping it around, doing some interesting things – if I were teaching myself, I never would have learned them. It was amazing what he did with the craft!
Paul DiFuccia (left) accompanied by his wife Janice (right) earns his hovercraft pilot certification from HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald (center).

Discover the amazing things you can do with a hovercraft:

02 May 2014

The best hovercraft video you'll ever watch!

If you’ve ever had a question about hovercraft, this video is likely to answer it! And it will certainly give you an idea of the expertise behind Hovercraft Training Centers and the Neoteric hovercraft we use.

A TV program broadcast to more than 44 million households across the U.S., Indiana Outdoor Adventures, aired this episode featuring HTC founder / Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald and Flight Instructor Steve Stafford. You’ll learn how and why hovercraft came about in the first place, what makes them work, what they can do, how they’re manufactured, why they’re so safe – and lots more. And you’ll see them in lots of action.

The public response to the show has been overwhelmingly positive; here’s an example email the show received:

“Amazing! Mr. Fitzgerald seems like a really interesting man. I could listen to him talk all day. I think fire and rescue departments would really like to have these, especially in areas where ice fishing is popular. Thanks for producing another great show!”

We bet you’ll react the same way! Watch now …

We send a special thank you to the Perry Clear Creek Fire Department for their invaluable assistance in the filming of this show. Perry Clear Creek first responders and their Neoteric rescue hovercraft conducted the ice rescue demonstration in the program.