27 June, 2011

U.S. Air Force hovercraft pilot training

Personnel from the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base have completed a week of specialized military pilot training at Neoteric. Among them was Capt. Cory Lingelbach, the UTTR Hovercraft Unit's Chief Trainer, who used one of the base's two Neoteric hovercraft to rescue a downed F-16 pilot who crashed on the Great Salt Lake mudflats, where no other rescue vehicle could travel.

The impact of the $30 million jet, hitting the ground at approximately 300 mph, shattered it into small burning fragments scattered across a vast muddy terrain. The Base's Neoteric craft not only rescued the pilot, who ejected before impact, they also were used in the search and recovery operations.

Below, one of the two Neoteric rescue hovercraft employed by UTTR awaits launch on the Wabash River in Terre Haute, Indiana for training operations. Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald (in vest) briefs Capt. Lingelbach (left) ...
Prior to their hovercraft purchase, when the Range used ATVs and trucks, emergency response times could reach more than three hours. With their Neoteric hovercraft, they can reach victims in minutes. 

Capt. Cory Lingelbach explains, “The conditions under which we operate are very rough. Before we had the hovercraft, we had to recover a downed plane and got six of our ATVs stuck in mudflats, blew engines and lost all the equipment. That was the trigger point to look for alternatives, and after research we found the Neoteric craft to be the most suitable.”

The UTTR training included night water rescue operations. Below, as shown through night vision goggles during a water rescue simulation, the Neoteric hovercraft's unique maneuverability allows immediate access to victims in water rescue operations, as well as operations on difficult terrain such as mud, ice and swiftwater ...
At the end of their week of training, with their hovercraft loaded into their trailer, the military firefighters prepare to return to Hill Air Force Base. From left: Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald presents graduate certificates to Lt. Derek Martinez; Capt. Cory Lingelbach; and Lt. Jonathon Jimenez ...

26 June, 2011

Neoteric Hovercraft in the news

Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Indiana USA
25 June 2011
Hovercraft training brings Utah rescue unit to Fairbanks Park
Local company trains agencies worldwide

TERRE HAUTE - Neither boat nor helicopter, it was something in between that danced about the Wabash River this past week. “We always have questions,” Chris Fitzgerald chuckled near the Fairbanks Park boat ramp as a driver pulled up to inspect his hovercraft.

Fitzgerald and U.S. Air Force personnel from the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base spent the week training on a new 4-seat unit the military will use there.As base firefighters and emergency responders, the group uses hovercraft such as Fitzgerald’s in water rescues. Among those training this week was Capt. Cory Lingelbach who, in May of 2006, used one to rescue a downed F-16 pilot who had crashed off the Great Salt Lake.
 Turn here: Chris Fitzgerald and Cory Lingelbach head upriver
for a training exercise Friday evening. Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis 

Fitzgerald’s company, Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc., designs and manufactures light hovercraft for clientele in 50 nations. The products range from emergency rescue models to recreational. Lingelbach said Fitzgerald has been working with their department since before 2005.

“I came to Terre Haute in ’76,” Fitzgerald said Friday afternoon as the military firefighters hooked the vehicles to the back of trucks. “That’s when I started the business here.” Today the company sells about 60 units a year to groups ranging from American to Russian, African and Swedish. “The most obscure places,” Fitzgerald remarked.

In addition to manufacturing the hovercraft, Fitzgerald also trains personnel on maintenance and operations. The model being used this week was a four-seat hovercraft designed to carry about 800 pounds in weight, he said. If the hovercraft is used on ice, the load can be increased to about 1,200 pounds.

The vehicle rides on “a bubble of air” and tops out between 55 and 60 miles per hour, he added. “They almost turn ice rescues into a recreational activity,” he said, adding the vehicles are extremely safe on ice as well as fast water. Boats, on the other hand, have trouble on both.

But energy efficiency was one of the earliest reasons for their usage, he said, explaining the four-seat hovercraft trained on this week is about 30 percent more efficient than an airboat. The German-made Hirth engine inside it runs on gasoline, and is comparable to the engine in an ultralight aircraft. “Diesel engines tend to be too heavy,” he explained.

The new model being taken back to Utah contains a 100-horsepower engine compared to its predecessor, which had 65 horsepower, but the craft itself is slightly smaller. Lingelbach said the difference in size and horsepower will allow the department to do at half-speed what it used to do at full throttle.

Thursday, the group stayed out until 11:30 p.m. simulating night water rescues and victim retrieval. They also cruised up the river to Clinton to let personnel get used to the feel. 

Lt. Jonathan Jimenez and Lt. Derek Martinez said this exercise in Terre Haute was their first chance to get the craft in the water. Both men returned from deployments to Iraq in 2009, and they knew the story of Lingelbach and the F-16 rescue.

“Good experience. Good training,” Martinez said. “I learned a lot.”

15 June, 2011

New superboat to speed up river rescue

The Roswell Fire Department's hovercraft attracted news coverage when it served in a river rescue operation within days of its purchase. Believed to be the first rescue hovercraft in the state of Georgia, a Homeland Security Grant covered 98% of the hovercraft's cost ...

03 June, 2011

Roswell, Georgia buys rescue hovercraft with Homeland Security Grant

Once first responders experience the extraordinary capabilities of a Neoteric hovercraft, no other water or ice rescue vehicle will do - just ask the Roswell, Georgia Fire Department.

In March, Neoteric Training Pilot Steve Stafford demonstrated a Neoteric rescue hovercraft to Roswell officials. Fire Chief Ricky Spencer says, “At first I wasn’t too keen on the idea. Then when I saw what the Neoteric craft can do, I said, how soon can I get one? And after we saw Neoteric's reverse thrust, all other hovercraft were out of the question.”

Jeremy Adams of Roswell Fire Department's Logistics Division first suggested a Neoteric craft to the department. "We considered various rescue boats as well as airboats. But airboats are just not as maneuverable as hovercraft."

According to Chief Spencer, "There are 13 miles of the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, with lots of shallow areas. Rescue boats just didn't meet our needs."

Roswell's hovercraft cost the city only $9,995.33, thanks to a Homeland Security Grant it received. "It's a purchase well worth it," says Chief Spencer, "since the department will now have no issues navigating the river during rescue operations."

On June 1, Spencer and Adams traveled to Neoteric's headquarters to undergo pilot training in their new 6-passenger rescue HoverTrek ...
Left to right: Neoteric Training Pilot Steve Stafford; Roswell Fire Chief Ricky Spencer;
 Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald; Roswell Logistics Officer Jeremy Adams.

In the video below, Neoteric Training Pilot Steve Stafford and Chief Spencer launch the Roswell craft on the swollen Wabash River in Terre Haute, Indiana for an afternoon of pilot training:

Read media coverage of the Roswell Fire Department hovercraft