11 December, 2011

Neoteric Trains Hovercraft Pilots in Hong Kong

Neoteric Hovercraft pilot training instructors Chris Fitzgerald and Steve Stafford recently traveled to Hong Kong to conduct six days of challenging hovercraft pilot training for firefighters from the Hong Kong Fire Services Department in their new 6-passenger rescue Hovertrek.

Their hovercraft is based at the Sheung Shui Fire Station where more than 75 firefighters are stationed. This northern region of Hong Kong suffers frequent flooding due to typhoons and rainstorm “Black Warnings.” Because of this, the area has quite a sophisticated storm water management system consisting of narrow engineered drainage channels with highly elaborate controls. These channels feature walkways, ramps, service platforms, inflatable dams and even bike trails and rest areas for the public.
Aerial view of the Ng Tung River near Tin Ping Shan, where flight training was conducted. 
Hands-on flight training for the firefighters took place in one of these drainage channels of the Ng Tung River near Tin Ping Shan.
At the start of hands-on flight training, Stafford and Fitzgerald show the second group of student pilots how to remove the hovercraft from its trailer and to conduct a pre-flight inspection.

A major challenge was that the channel, at 40 yards wide, offered insufficient width to perform many of the standard pilot training maneuvers. In addition, the 4-feet deep channel, with its 45-degree concrete walls and stairways every 200 yards with stainless steel chain railings, provided a forbidding number of opportunities for hovercraft impacts.
In the narrow channel, Fitzgerald instructs firefighter Lai Wa in slow speed maneuvering and backing up.
It rained continually for nearly half of the six days of training but the Fire Services craft, shown below in Indiana before shipment to Hong Kong, is equipped with a cabin that was removed for fair weather training days ...
The Neoteric hovercraft joins the sophisticated apparatus of a fire station with all the latest rescue equipment, such as new ladder trucks from Sweden, modern ambulances and BMW performance motorcycles equipped for paramedics.

Hong Kong is tremendously efficient and its government demands the highest standards for all purchases. Before their new hovercraft could be shipped, officials from the Government of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Fire Department, and China Pacific Marine, Ltd. (Neoteric's Hong Kong agent) visited Neoteric in Indiana USA to conduct stringent performance evaluations on the craft.  

Hong Kong is the ideal environment for the unique capabilities of the hovercraft. Rivers, canals, channels, drainage ditches, estuaries and fish farms proliferate and there is an enormous number of islands and beaches, as well as vast barge and ship traffic.