08 July, 2019

Neoteric featured in new Discovery Channel series

Wildly popular Fast ‘N’ Loud star Aaron Kaufman is stepping out of his comfort zone in a big way as he dives headfirst into mechanical worlds he's never experienced before … including the world of Neoteric Hovercraft! 

In a new Discovery Channel series, Aaron Needs a Job, Kaufman takes you on a wild ride around the country as he explores exciting motor-driven industries. He says, “I quit my job and walked away from Fast 'N’ Loud to pursue my passion for racing…and it nearly broke the bank…I am exploring the country in search of incredible places, industry and people that keep America running.”

Aaron and his film crew are at Neoteric this week to film an episode of the new series featuring Aaron building and flying a hovercraft with Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald.

The producer, Lionsgate’s Pilgrim Media Group, says, “We chose Neoteric because we liked Chris' history with hovercraft and that he is one of the pioneers in hovercraft manufacturing. We liked that Chris also trains people to operate hovercraft as we wanted Aaron to have that experience. And, we liked the innovations that Neoteric has made to hovercraft with the reverse thrust system, etc.”

Neoteric is in good company! The series also includes visits to NASA, a Colorado coal mine, Nevada firefighters, the underbelly of the Las Vegas service industry, and much more.

Neoteric is honored to appear in this series and to be considered one of the "incredible places, industry and people that keep America running."

Stay tuned! In the next few days we’ll be posting photos and videos of the filming and more.

Aaron Needs A Job premieres JULY 15 at 10 PM on Discovery Channel.

The episode featuring Neoteric is tentatively scheduled to air AUGUST 26.

27 June, 2019

Fire department’s new hovercraft used for water rescues

"Its versatility is what made the hovercraft a game-changer for water rescues, Chief McElfresh said. It can run over mud, dry land, the road, on water and swift water.

Seymour Tribune
June 26, 2019
by Jordan Richart

The latest floodwater rescue tool a fire department in central Jackson County has added to its arsenal of response vehicles has drawn plenty of curiosity from the public.

“You almost have to wait until late at night to go to the gas station,” Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department Chief Travis McElfresh joked. “Everywhere you go, people like to ask questions about it and see it up close.”

That mysterious, bizarre-looking craft is the department’s new Neoteric Hovercraft it purchased June 15.

During a recent discussion about the hovercraft outside the department, the vehicle drew a few passersby who wanted photos or more information about it.

A demonstration of the hovercraft on County Road 25E in Brownstown near floodwaters from the East Fork White River also drew a small audience who were eager to see it operate.
Brownstown Assistant Fire Chief Mitch Noelker demonstrates the use of the department's new hovercraft
in floodwaters off County Road 25E.
The oval-shaped craft is worth seeing, as the bottom is made up of 66 black fabric bags connected by heavy-duty zip ties and makes plenty of noise as it gears up. It is maneuvered by handlebars like a motorcycle and can reach a top speed of 70 miles per hour, but it is not recommended to go that fast. McElfresh said the craft can top out at 45 miles per hour on the water and 65 miles per hour on the ice.

The Neoteric Hovercraft is manufactured in Terre Haute and differs from boats and other hovercrafts in that it can go in reverse.

Hovercraft utilize one or more fans or propellers to create lift and thrust. Lift air is captured in a flexible fabric skirt, causing the craft to hover above the surface. Thrust air is directed backward to move the craft forward.

On June 15, McElfresh and Assistant Fire Chief Mitch Noelker received training on the Wabash River and returned late that night. Three hours later, the hovercraft was dispatched to its first rescue.

Since then, the department has used the four-seated craft to conduct 11 rescues involving 14 people, McElfresh said.
Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department Chief Travis McElfresh drives the department's new hovercraft during a rescue of a man June 19. Volunteer firefighter Clayton Keithley is pictured in the back of the craft.
Those numbers earned them recognition from Neoteric in a post on the company’s blog.
In Neoteric’s more than half a century in business, never has a fire department gone immediately from hovercraft flight training to performing a series of successful high-risk floodwater rescues,” the company wrote in its post.

The department had been considering purchasing a water rescue craft in the last year because of the number of water rescues in the area, McElfresh said. Between Jan. 1 and June 18, Jackson County had 55 calls for water rescues with nearly a third of them since June 1. There also was a high number reported during a recent span when the county received 8.24 inches of rain in seven days.

When a group from the department attended the fire convention show in April, they found the Neoteric, which was demonstrated for them on floodwaters afterward.

After discussions with the fire board, which controls the department’s budget, the department moved forward with the $40,000 purchase. McElfresh said the department kept in mind what other resources were available throughout the county, which is why they settled on a hovercraft.

The sheriff’s department has a johnboat, conservation has an airboat, so we decided to get a hovercraft,” he said. “All three of them can do different things. The johnboat can go places the airboat can’t. This can go where it can’t, vice versa. We didn’t want to double up on resources in the county.

Its versatility is what made the hovercraft a game-changer for water rescues, McElfresh said. It can run over mud, dry land, the road, on water and swift water,” he said.

When flying over land, there’s a 9-inch clearance. “If you come over a 9-inch log laying in a field, you just cruise over it like it wasn’t even there,” McElfresh said.

The craft also has the capability to go in reverse, which is not an option with an airboat. It also can turn 180 and 360 degrees. “When you’re pulling up to a vehicle, it makes it pretty easy,” McElfresh said.

During a recent rescue, a man was walking through floodwaters. McElfresh said the man was about 4 feet away from walking through swift-moving water. First responders told the man to stay put, and McElfresh was able to work the craft to the side until they could safely rescue him. We were able to get right up against him and pull him up,” he said.

The greatest benefit might be its role in assisting with rescues on ice. The craft will allow crews to make a rescue without putting weight on the ice. “You’re hovering on air and move on the ice without busting it up,” McElfresh said.
The Brownstown Fire Department’s new hovercraft is pictured outside the department.
So far, McElfresh and Noelker have received training to operate the hovercraft. McElfresh said once they get more hours behind the bars and get more comfortable, four others at the department will receive training.

The group also joined Project H.E.R.O., which stands for Hovercraft Emergency Response Operations, a nonprofit that serves during natural disasters. The department will receive additional training through that organization.

We’ll do joint training on the Wabash River,” McElfresh said.


18 June, 2019

Brownstown Fire Department performs record-setting hovercraft flood rescues

Have you ever questioned the importance of hovercraft flight training? If so, you need to read this amazing story of Indiana’s Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department’s recent flood rescues.

In Neoteric’s more than half a century in business, never has a fire department gone immediately from hovercraft flight training to performing a series of successful high-risk floodwater rescues. In fact, our training protocol strongly recommends that each pilot, after training, has a minimum of 5 hours of practice flying their hovercraft before carrying passengers. But when lives are at risk, dedicated first responders sometimes have to break protocol …

Brownstown Fire Department at first considered buying an airboat for their water rescue operations. Then they saw a Neoteric rescue hovercraft in action at FDIC International (Fire Department Instructors Conference) and immediately recognized the advantages of a hovercraft with reverse thrust over an airboat.

Last Saturday, Brownstown Fire Chief Travis McElfrish and three of his first responders came to Neoteric to pick up their new hovercraft and undergo flight training. Here, Chief McElfresh (4th from left) and his crew receive their pilot certifications from Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald (3rd from left) and Flight Instructor Steve Stafford (5th from left)    
Here’s what happened next, in Chief McElfresh’s own words …

“On June 15th our Fire Department traveled to Neoteric Hovercraft in Terre Haute to pick up our new hovercraft. We spent the day on the Wabash River training to operate our new hovercraft.

“We arrived back at the station around 11:45 that night. Little did we know that only 3 hours later we would be launching our hovercraft on its first rescue, where we were able to successfully rescue a young man stranded in floodwaters caused by the nearly 7 inches of rain we had received in 2 days … while we were still receiving heavy downpours.

“Another call came out at noon on the 16th. We were en route to check a vehicle that was totally submerged in floodwaters. But we were diverted from this call to rescue an elderly gentleman who had become stranded while trying to travel through a flooded rural road. After completing this call we checked the vehicle totally submerged and found it to be unoccupied.

“At 5:30 p.m. we were dispatched again to rescue a woman who attempted to drive through floodwaters and became stranded in her minivan, with water deep enough to reach the seats in the vehicle.

“We successfully made all rescues with no incident and no injuries - thanks to the top notch hovercraft from Neoteric and the outstanding training we received from Steven Stafford and Chris, the owner of Neoteric.”

Here are a couple of photos of Brownstown’s hovercraft in action during their rescues …

We at Neoteric congratulate Chief McElfresh and Brownstown Fire Department’s first responders for their courage, determination and their prompt response in dire circumstances … and for being such fast learners in their flight training course!


09 June, 2019

"Perilous rescue shows need for hovercraft, firefighters say"

The article below from the Bellevue Leader in Nebraska is worth attention from fire departments everywhere.

The city of Bellevue and surrounding areas have dealt with extreme flooding multiple times in the last decade. And those areas are not alone. The fastest growing and most costly natural disaster is devastating floods. The National Weather Service, which has kept records for 124 years, reports that there has never been a wetter 12 months than the period that recently ended. And every reporting agency predicts, “The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events are projected to continue to increase over the 21st century."

The Bellevue article shows that 'where there's a will, there's a way' and may help your department prepare for faster, safer and more frequent flood, ice and water rescues. And, with a hovercraft, you'll never have to worry about damage to propellers or to traditional rescue boats. As our customers report ... 

 "The hovercraft gets us into areas that before we weren't able to reach, areas that our jet boat can't get into because we ingest debris into the impeller.Central Fraser Valley Search & Rescue Society, Canada

It’s awesome being able to operate in deep and shallow flood water without having to worry about destroying a motor or a boat.” Council Bluffs Fire Department, Iowa

“Regardless of the weather, our hovercraft can fly over water, ice, mud, sand, grass or wetlands, allowing us to get to those places you can’t reach either by boat or by foot. It can save people under the most difficult conditions that prevent the use of a helicopter.” WOPR, Poland 

The benefit of having the hovercraft is we do not have to send our personnel into the water to retrieve victims. It can also hover over logs, car tires and any other debris, unlike boats, that could be a hazard in the water. A hovercraft is the answer to a faster rescue – a safer rescue.” Mansfield Fire Department, Texas

Perilous rescue shows need for hovercraft, firefighters say

By Eugene Curtin Associate Editor
Mar 27, 2019

“The craft the Bellevue Fire Department hopes to buy is a six-passenger Hovertrek Rescue Deluxe offered by Neoteric Hovercraft of Terre Haute, Indiana.”

The sight of firefighters trying to rescue a flood-stranded resident in a paddle boat was just too much for members of the Bellevue Fire Department.

We were contacted,” said Bonnie Knutson, president of the nonprofit Bellevue Public Safety Foundation. “We sent it out to the board and the board said, ‘Yep, let’s do it.’” She said the board agreed to help raise the money to purchase and fully equip a hovercraft that can be used to rescue persons stranded in floods or icy rivers and streams.
The Bellevue Fire Department hopes to buy a six-person hovercraft similar to the one pictured above, which belongs to the Council Bluffs Fire Department and was on display March 20 at Bellevue’s District 1 fire station.
Photo by Eugene Curtin

The foundation was contacted after two firefighters paddled to the rescue of an 85-year-old man in the Sands Trailer Park south of LaPlatte.

Firefighter George Lee, one of the two firefighters, said they responded to a 911 call from a man who ignored orders to evacuate and decided to ride the flood out. When they arrived on the scene, Lee said, a civilian let them borrow a paddle boat and oars, and out they paddled. Lee said the rescue took about 25 minutes.

Bellevue Fire Department Battalion Chief Joe Gibilisco, who is also a board member of the Bellevue Public Safety Foundation, said during a March 20 press conference at the District 1 fire station that firefighters should not have to risk their lives in such flimsy equipment.

The only thing they had was a private person’s paddle boat and a couple of oars,” Gibilisco said. He said the department’s flat-bottomed boats are suitable for river rescues where the water is deep and outboard engines can function without getting stuck in a river bed, but they cannot be deployed in the shallow waters of a typical flood.

Right now we don’t have a feasible means to do that,” he said. “With those hovercraft we believe that we will.” Gibilisco said the hovercraft will be made available for water rescue missions around the region and would not be restricted to Bellevue.

Justin James, Chief of the Council Bluffs Fire Department, traveled to Bellevue with his department’s hovercraft in tow. The hovercraft is very similar to the one Bellevue hopes to purchase.

James said Council Bluffs bought its hovercraft some years ago after losing a resident during an ice rescue where hovercraft response might have made a difference.

The craft the Bellevue Fire Department hopes to buy is a six-passenger Hovertrek Rescue Deluxe offered by Neoteric Hovercraft of Terre Haute, Indiana.

Knutson said the Bellevue Public Safety Foundation has kicked off the campaign with a $5,000 donation and will donate the proceeds of Friday’s Supper fundraiser to be held 5 to 8 p.m. at the Bellevue Firefighters Hall, 2108 Franklin St.


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