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25 March 2014

VIDEO: Bubba Watson has nothing on Gary Meyers!

Bubba’s hovercraft golf cart made a major splash with the Bubba’s Hover viral video. Let's make this one go viral, too!  

Watch HTC grad Gary Meyers turn the Refuge Golf & Country Club’s Wine Festival in Lake Havasu City, Arizona into an extraordinary event. (By the way, "Neo" is his hovercraft's name.) Just goes to show you that with proper training and any Neoteric HoverTrek you, too, can hover like Bubba … 





Hover like Bubba and Gary – Take a Test Flight! …




19 March 2014

Dan Brown: “If you don’t train, you’re taking your life into your own hands.”

Dan Brown, an optometrist from Olney, IL, had owned a Hovertechnics hovercraft for 15 years – but he rarely used it. “I had no training; I just read the manual and I wasn’t that confident in it. I probably flew it only 5 hours or so over the years.”

The craft’s previous owner was also untrained. “He had a bad experience with it,” explains Dan. “With no training, he just jumped in the darn thing and took off. He was out duck hunting and got thrown out of it because he didn’t really know how to run it. It scared the you-know-what out of him so he got rid of it.

So when Dan decided to trade his Hovertechnics craft in on a new Neoteric HoverTrek, he took an HTC training course on the day he picked up his craft. Here, with his new hovercraft and wearing a pleased smile, Dan (right) accepts his pilot certification from HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald …

When Dan decided he wanted “something new to play with”, he chose a Neoteric craft for one of the same reasons we use them exclusively at HTC. “I got on the Internet and read about Neoteric’s reverse thrust buckets – and that’s the ticket, right there. That’s what sold me. No other hovercraft can do that!

Watch Dan’s Wabash River flight training session begin last Sunday, a cold and blustery day …
video

But at HTC, you don’t “just jump in the darn thing and take off.” First, you go through classroom training, covering hovercraft function, operation, and maintenance. Then, as pilot training begins, the instruction continues. First, Dan learned how to easily unload his hovercraft from its trailer …

Then, Chris Fitzgerald took him through a thorough preflight inspection …

Next, Dan learned how to fuel his hovercraft …

Before launching onto the river, both Dan and Chris donned wireless headsets so Dan could receive constant instruction and feedback while he learned to fly his hovercraft …

How did Dan feel after his cold but extensive day of training? “I feel like I got frostbite! But training is definitely important, there’s no question. I really learned a lot in the classroom session. I didn’t realize there was so much that went into it, and I understand it a lot more now. Great day!”  Then he added, “If you don’t train, you’re taking your life into your own hands. Just like the guy I bought the Hovertechnics from – he didn’t have any training, and he ended up getting thrown out of it. If he’d been trained, it wouldn’t have happened.

Training on such a cold day was good practice for Dan, a waterfowl hunter, because he'll be using his new hovercraft primarily in winter. “I live on East Fork Lake, and when it’s frozen over I have trouble getting to places, to my duck blinds. In summer, there are boats everywhere, bass tournaments, water skiers, Sea-Doos – it’s just crazy. In winter, I’ll have the lake to myself. That’s the main thing – I want to be able to get out there when no one else can.

And Dan may also be performing rescues. In 2010, he made headlines by using his Hovertechnics craft to rescue his neighbors’ two border collies when they fell through the ice on East Fork Lake. The Olney Fire Department and nearly 300 people had gathered to save the dogs. Dan relates, “The owner was out on a ladder, trying to grab the dogs with extension cords tied together and the firemen were telling him to get out of the icy water. Another person trying to help also fell through the ice. The dogs were just hanging there; they had the look of death in their eyes. The owner and I flew the hovercraft right up to them, grabbed them out of the water and hovered back right into his yard where he carried them into his house and started thawing them out in a hot bath.”

After that, the fire department asked Dan for his phone number, “so if we need you we can call you.” He may start getting those calls now that he owns a Neoteric hovercraft, known for its rescue capabilities and used by first responders across the world.

But whether its used for recreation or rescue, thanks to his training at HTC, Dan’s new hovercraft won’t just sit in his yard unused for years. “I’ll get out in this new one more,” he says, “I’ll be much more confident with it.”


Whether for rescue or recreation, find out if a hovercraft is right for you;







18 March 2014

Want a hovercraft? Paul Thrift knows how to “figure it all out.”

Paul Thrift, a busy 34-year-old real estate developer, takes his recreation very seriously. As President of Thompson Thrift Development in Terre Haute, IN, he describes himself as “fairly judicious in going about due diligence, perseverant – I stick with something until I figure it out – and I’m curious and like to try new things.”

So, when he started thinking about a hovercraft as a family recreational vehicle, he didn’t just call and place an order, even though he lives in the city where Neoteric Hovercraft is located. Instead, he did his due diligence: he signed up for a Test Flight and a training course at Hovercraft Training Centers.

Paul explained, “I don’t know if my expectations and curiosity are married to reality or not, so I want to see how to operate it. This way I can ascertain if it will work for our intended use and will it be practical for me to use; that’s why I’m here.

After his training course with HTC Senior Flight Instructor Chris Fitzgerald, Paul said, “I wouldn’t even consider getting one without this training; it’s an absolute must. And Chris was impressive beyond words, given his history and passion for it, which shines through. And to spend a day of my time, I don’t take that lightly. But the day here was well worth it. Even if I didn’t go on to purchase a hovercraft, I would count the day a success and worth the money and time, just for the experience. I’d do it again just for the enjoyment!

Here, Paul (right) and Chris Fitzgerald don their headsets before launching a 6-passenger craft on the Wabash River …

Saturday was a busy day at HTC. As Paul and Chris Fitzgerald fire up the 6-passenger craft, HTC Instructor Steve Stafford prepares to launch a Test Flight on a 4-passenger craft for the owner of Alaska’s Wilderness Place Lodge …

Paul launches the craft onto the Wabash River ...
video

After his flight experiences, Paul says the most enjoyable thing about a hovercraft is “It gives you the freedom to go wherever you want and experience the elements and spin around and not have the limitations of a wheeled or grounded vehicle. It looks like my family and I will be able to enjoy it recreationally, to access rivers and lakes, cruising, pleasure riding. My 16-year old son is especially excited about it – he thinks it’s pretty cool!

Paul is now deciding whether it will be a 4-passenger or 6-passenger craft for the Thrift family. “The 6-passenger had more power, so I would probably prefer it for the capacity,” said Paul, “I’m leaning toward the large one because I want to put people in it. We like to do things outdoors as a family. Either way, I’m excited about doing something different!

Whatever size the Thrift family hovercraft will be, thanks to Paul’s determination to ‘figure it all out’ with a Test Flight and thorough training, it will - without doubt - be just right for them!


Want to figure it all out for yourself?






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 ...
video

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) …
video

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
  and
Experience your own HTC Test Flight






12 March 2014

U.S. Navy LCAC Craftmasters Evaluate Training at Hovercraft Training Centers

HTC trains not only rescue, commercial and recreational hovercraft pilots, but military pilots as well – and this is a segment of our business that may expand. HTC is exploring the possibility of the U.S. Navy using light hovercraft for initial pilot training for LCACs (Landing Craft Air Cushion) and the new generation of SSCs (Ship-to-Shore Connectors.)

Currently, LCAC Craftmasters are trained using simulators, following by final training in actual LCACs; from what we are told this is a costly protocol with low retention rates. According to information we gathered from the Navy’s Virginia Beach hovercraft training base, it costs the military approximately $200,000 per trainee. Each trainee spends approximately 100 hours in simulators, which cost $800 per hour to operate. Trainer LCACs operate about 150 hours per year, which costs $7,800 per hour. And the current dropout rates for Craftmasters, Engineers, Navigators, and Loadmasters ranges from 15% to 65%.

Last spring, HTC founder Chris Fitzgerald was invited to the U.S. Navy Assault Craft Unit 4 in Virginia Beach, where half the Navy’s fleet of 72 LCACs are based. There, he visited with Craftmaster Trainers Andy Sutter and Dave Convery to study and learn about the LCAC training protocol and to determine if HTC could assist in improving the current program. He also had the opportunity to operate a simulator and to pilot a 100-ton, $22 million LCAC - with no previous training other than his experience piloting light hovercraft. After his flight, Fitzgerald observed, “I found it relatively easy, and that was with no advance instruction. I had no trouble getting over the hump, operating in a straight line, turning, modulating speed, stopping. I attribute that to my experience piloting smaller light hovercraft; it was pretty much second nature.

Fitzgerald’s visit to ACU4 confirmed his theory that light hovercraft could benefit the Navy’s LCAC training program. In contrast to the Navy’s protocol, military aircraft pilots are initially trained in light aircraft, then move directly to heavy aircraft. Following this protocol and using light hovercraft for initial LCAC/SSC training is likely to be a much more efficient and cost-effective method.

As the next step in this exploratory mission, Craftmaster Trainers Andy Sutter (now retired) and Dave Convery traveled to HTC headquarters to undergo our Standard Training Course in order to judge and advise whether or not light hovercraft could be applicable to heavy hovercraft training. First, they underwent classroom and maintenance training, after which Convery observed, “Compared to ours, light hovercraft are nothing maintenance-wise.”

Here are a few photos from their training course …

Chris Fitzgerald (center) leads Andy Sutter (left) and Dave Convery (right) through a preflight inspection on an HTC Neoteric training hovercraft …

With a thumbs-up, Sutter takes off on his first flight in a light hovercraft, with Chris Fitzgerald at the controls …

Through wireless headsets, each Craftmaster listens to the other’s entire flight training session. Here, Convery listens to Sutter’s flight …

Sutter takes the controls, while Fitzgerald provides constant feedback and instruction …

The Neoteric Hovercraft’s reverse thrust system caught Sutter’s attention even before his first launch: “I was impressed when Chris spun the craft around and backed it up to the trailer.” Here, he learns to operate it himself …

At the end of his flight training session, Sutter easily transitions the craft from water to the boat ramp …

Dave Convery (left) and Andy Sutter (right) accept their HTC Pilot Certifications from Chris Fitzgerald …

Both Craftmasters felt that their day of training was productive and that it enabled them to experience the differences – and many similarities – between light hovercraft and heavy military hovercraft. “I felt very comfortable; it’s very similar to what we teach. Before I came here I was skeptical that flying this hovercraft could help anyone fly an LCAC. But flying this craft, using the thrust buckets, it does help,” Sutter said.

And Convery agreed, “The training session was excellent. I really enjoyed it and I’m very enthusiastic about what this craft does.” He added, “It’s sensitive; I expected it to be a little more reactive, but not like this. When you put the controls in, you are gone. In that regard, it’s the same as ours. It’s like an air hockey puck. When you push an air hockey puck across the table, it goes until it bounces off something. And that’s what’s going to happen without this training.”

Sutter and Convery's visit solidified the premise that light hovercraft could play a role in the LCAC/SSC training program, and we'll keep you informed as this project moves forward. Should the U.S. Navy utilize Hovercraft Training Centers and Neoteric Hovercraft to streamline their training protocol, it would improve the cost/benefit ratio of training for the Department of Defense. It would also lower the high attrition rate by serving as an inexpensive way to qualify future Craftmasters and Navigators. And, since Neoteric Hovercraft easily capture public attention, they're an excellent public relations and marketing tool that would boost the success of the military's recruiting efforts.



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11 March 2014

HTC Grad Demonstrates Rescue Hovercraft to Poland Fire Rescue

After completing hovercraft pilot training at HTC, Michal Przybylski launched his own company, Tecnotek Polska, to become a Neoteric Hovercraft dealer in Poland. Tecnotek Polska is actively engaged in demonstrating the hovercraft’s value in rescue operations to fire departments and other rescue agencies throughout Poland – and their response has been extremely positive.

Here, Michal exhibits the HoverTrek’s capabilities to Fire Rescue agencies in Bytom, located in southern Poland …

Tecnotek Polska’s 6-passenger Neoteric Rescue HoverTrek™ ...

Even before the hovercraft flies into action, it attracts attention while still on its trailer ...

Michal launches the hovercraft to display it in action to the audience ...

Of major interest to the first responders was the HoverTrek’s reverse thrust, which allows it to brake, fly backwards and hover in place – making it an exceptional ice and water rescue vehicle ...

After seeing the hovercraft in action, Fire Rescue (STRAZ) officials were eager to jump on board for a flight …

A first responder takes a spin …

Then he literally takes a spin, made possible by the craft’s reverse thrust system ...

The demo gave first responders a hands-on opportunity to experience how hovercraft outperform other rescue vehicles …

Seeing the Rescue HoverTrek™ in action draws an even larger audience …

Michal reports that the feedback he received from this demo is “incredible.” Officials were extremely impressed by the hovercraft’s capabilities, and the attending Fire Rescue departments are in the process of writing grants to help them purchase a Rescue HoverTrek™. 

Once again, HTC training serves to make the world a little safer!


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04 March 2014

"There's more to flying than just jumping in the cockpit!"

Bill Hopkins is a retired tool and die maker from Kansas who knows a thing or two about flying. He’s been into hang gliders, flown helicopters - and even built and piloted his own airplane. “If it’s flyable, I like to fly it,” he says.

But when he started building his second aircraft, he was hit with a stroke of bad luck. “I found out that because I have asthma, I can’t renew my pilot’s license. And my wife told me she’d just as soon I stay on the ground. But I want to stay at least a little bit off the ground - that’s how I came to hovercraft.

Being an experienced pilot, Bill understood that flying any distance off the ground requires training, so his first step was to complete an HTC training course. “There’s more to flying than just jumping in the cockpit and taking off. It’s no different than driving a car - you need somebody to show you how to do it; you don’t just jump behind the wheel and go.

After a day of training, Bill Hopkins (left) accepts his Hovercraft Pilot Certification from HTC Senior Instructor Chris Fitzgerald (center). Bill’s friend David Raynolds (right) accompanied him during his training course ...

At the Wabash River training site, Bill learns how to conduct a preflight inspection and fuel the hovercraft, while David observes ...

Bill was hit with a stroke of good luck on his training day: for the first time in weeks, the Wabash River wasn’t a flow of broken ice and debris ...

With Chris Fitzgerald providing constant instruction and feedback, Bill learns to operate the Neoteric training hovercraft’s reverse thrust ...

Bill was so impressed with his training course - and with the Neoteric craft’s reverse thrust - he said, “I might consider buying one with that reverse thrust if you have one here and I could take it home with me.”

And that’s just what he did. Here’s Bill Hopkins’ hovercraft, purchased from the Neoteric Hovercraft Trade-In Showroom, which he plans to use for lake and river cruising and fishing – and, of course, staying off the ground!


Want to get off the ground? 
Take a Test Flight and see if a hovercraft is the way to go!

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