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05 December 2014

Hovercraft: A Profitable Dream Come True

Shaw Couevas, a 27-year old from New Orleans, Louisiana, has the sense of adventure and the entrepreneurial spirit to make his dream come true - and then to make it profitable. But he also has the wisdom to make sure he knows what he’s doing – by taking the proper training.
Shaw Couevas (left) receives his Hovercraft Pilot Certification from HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald on the day he picked up his 6-passenger Neoteric HoverTrek™.
Shaw’s story began when he was just a child. “When I was a small kid, I had a remote control hovercraft, and I was always trying to build one. So I’ve always known about them, but I never thought I’d use one,” he said.

Then he had an idea. “I decided to open a tourism business in New Orleans. I think hovercraft are a new and exciting way to get customers down there and experience the wildlife.” The decision came somewhat naturally to Shaw: “I’m one of those American do-alls; I own a trucking company, I sell cars. And my dad has a business, my mother has three businesses, my grandparents have businesses, so I’m just following a family tradition. But this one, this is my monkey!

His first step was to find the right hovercraft. “I really didn’t know where to go when I decided to do it, so I went on the Internet. I called Neoteric because it seems to be the best on the market and because the Hoverclub of America recommended Neoteric,” he explained.

His first business expense was a bargain – he bought a pre-owned 6-passenger Neoteric HoverTrek™. And when he came to pick it up in July, he arranged to take a training course on it at Hovercraft Training Centers. “I came up here because I really need the training. I wouldn’t want to take the craft out with a bunch of people on it and think I can handle it then have someone get hurt,” he explained. “It’s one thing to watch it in a video, but it’s another to actually see it in action. You can’t judge speed, you can’t judge maneuverability from a video – you have to see it first-hand. You know, I’m willing to invest probably half a million dollars in this project and I won’t do it unless I know for sure that I’m ready to go.”

Shaw is a “ready to go” kind of guy, who approached his training with enthusiasm. “I have a 700 hp 370Z, a 500 hp G37 Infiniti, a lifted F150 for mud, ATVs … give me an engine and a steering wheel and I’ll take it on!” he said. Better add rotors and rudders to that, because he's also a licensed helicopter pilot and boat captain!

Enjoy a few photos of Shaw making sure he’s ready to go as he takes on his training day in his new hovercraft …

After a morning of classroom instruction, Shaw learns to conduct a preflight inspection and fuels his hovercraft for his first training flight session on the Wabash River.

Wearing wireless headsets for continuous instruction, Shaw is all smiles as Instructor Chris Fitzgerald prepares to launch Shaw’s hovercraft.

Chris Fitzgerald demonstrates the floating stability of the Neoteric HoverTrek™.

Shaw gets a thumbs up from Chris Fitzgerald as he flies his hovercraft on his own.
So, after all his experience with other vehicles, how did Shaw feel about flying a hovercraft? “I’ve been smiles all the way back! This is a dream, you know? And to possibly make money with it is a whole new ballgame. It was really fun and educational and worth every penny to come up here and do it,” he said, “I think it’s going to be exactly what I’m looking for.”

He continued, “To be honest, I’m a big guy and not a lot of things get up and move with me in them, and I was expecting a little bit of a struggle, but I was surprised at how much power it had. But you need the training. Without it, you could hurt yourself or cause thousands of dollars of damage or hurt someone else. If you don’t train, you’ll be sorry later.”

Four months later, Shaw’s training has paid off and his dream has become a reality – with his new tourism business, Southern Hovercraft. Here he is, entertaining tourists in his newly vinyl-wrapped Neoteric hovercraft …

Follow Southern Hovercraft on Facebook …

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