29 October, 2011

Airplane pilot comments on Neoteric's Hovercraft Flight Training Course

Dirk Lohry, a private airplane pilot from McCook Lake, South Dakota USA, recently completed Neoteric's Recreational Hovercraft Pilot Training Course. Lohry lives on a lake, and the hovercraft he is building from a Neoteric partially-assembled kit will let him navigate the lake over thin and broken ice for the first time. Before his day of training, he had never even seen a hovercraft in person. After his day of training, Lohry offers the following advice to would-be hovercraft pilots …

“I was expecting that flying the hovercraft would be as easy as driving a car on ice. I had flown a private airplane for years and had watched many YouTube videos of the hovercraft in action so I thought I knew quite a bit. Now I know that it would not be a good idea to self teach yourself. You also need to know the theory on how it works, or else you will be scratching your head wondering what happened.
Dirk Lohry (right) and Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald prepare
 the training craft on the Wabash River for Lohry's maiden flight.
The training course showed me that flying a hovercraft is not as intuitive as I had expected. Some aspects of piloting the hovercraft were much more challenging while others were easier. For example, on water the hovercraft does not always hover. If the weight balance is off or if the skirt catches water the hovercraft would not rise. It takes power and speed to get over hump and get hovering. After it gets up, the craft slides like wet soap in a bathtub. Even with reduced power the speed can climb unexpectedly.

Slow speed handling was a pleasant surprise. In one maneuver we gently nudged a bridge on a moving river. Controlling the hovercraft was much easier than I expected and very smooth. There are many things to control all at the same time, such as RPM, rudder, reverse thrust and where you put your weight. And you need to be aware of the wind, current and lots of obstacles.

The Neoteric hovercraft is the only one I know that has reverse thrust. The craft can hover in place, spin like a top or even back up.  Try doing that in any other hovercraft!  Amazing technology really, and all with only one fan. The cool thing was flying over floating logs and vegetation - try doing that in a boat.

Landing on shore was just cool. No more dragging my boat up the shore, knee deep in mud. I am looking forward to maneuvering around the changing shores of the Missouri River. After the big flood this summer, there are new hidden reefs, trees and rocks. For a boat, that is a nightmare … for a hovercraft, it is a dream.”

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