17 June, 2012

Gladstone Public Safety Department trains in new Neoteric rescue hovercraft

Residents of, and visitors to, the Gladstone, Michigan area can now enjoy Lake Michigan much more safely. First responders from the Gladstone Public Safety Department and Delta County Search and Rescue have completed their pilot training at Hovercraft Training Centers and taken possession of Gladstone’s specially equipped Neoteric rescue hovercraft.

First responders from the Gladstone Public Safety receive their Class 3 Standard hovercraft pilot certification. From left: Gladstone Public Safety Officer Sgt. Scott Larson; Delta County Search & Rescue responder Mike Sands; Gladstone Public Safety Director Paul Geyer; Hovercraft Training Centers instructors Chris Fitzgerald and Steve Stafford.
The Gladstone Public Safety Department, located on Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, provides both police and fire protection to the city of Gladstone. It also provides mutual aid to four other law enforcement agencies and twelve other fire departments in the area.

Delta County Search and Rescue in Escanaba, Michigan is an all-volunteer team serving Delta County and surrounding areas. Among other responsibilities, the agency performs ice and swift water rescues on 1,777 square miles of land and inland waterways and on more than 200 miles of Lake Michigan.

Drowning has become a too-frequent tragedy in the areas serviced by these agencies, raising concern about slow response times and reliance on low-tech equipment such as ladders and tires to reach victims. The initial discussions about equipment upgrades began nearly 20 years ago after a drowning during the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association’s UP 200 race, a major Michigan event. A man tried to rescue his dog after it fell through the ice, but they both drowned in spite of rescue attempts using ropes and ladders. The rescuers almost lost their lives as well.

The decision to purchase a Neoteric hovercraft was made because the department wanted “something that would be safer for us and that would be quicker at the same time,” explains Public Safety Officer Sgt. Scott Larson.

Gladstone’s new Neoteric rescue hovercraft undergoes performance testing on the Wabash River.
All three Officers emphasized how professional training is absolutely essential for every hovercraft owner, particularly those involved in rescue operations. They were also impressed with the unusual maneuverability of the Neoteric hovercraft.

At the conclusion of their training, Gladstone Public Safety Director Paul Geyer observed, “The maneuverability is incredible – but it takes a fine touch to get that maneuverability. I struggled with trying to drive like it was a four-wheeler, when you turn where you want to go. With this hovercraft, you hardly turn at all … when Chris relates it to a helicopter, I can see it. And I expected it to be louder than it is.”

Paul Geyer learns to fly the department’s new hovercraft on the Wabash River, while instructor Chris Fitzgerald provides constant assistance and supervision.
Both work and recreation in the Gladstone area have now risen to a new level of safety. Their new hovercraft will be a valuable year-round asset in helping Gladstone Public Safety prevent injuries and fatalities on and near Lake Michigan.

See a photo gallery of Gladstone’s hovercraft pilot training sessions.

Learn more about Neoteric rescue hovercraft.  

09 June, 2012

Swedish entrepreneurs complete hovercraft pilot training

Fredrik Hedberg and Eric Groenlund, two young entrepreneurs from Vastervik, Sweden, recently traveled to the USA to undergo hovercraft pilot and maintenance training at Hovercraft Training Centers' headquarters in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Neoteric is the exclusive provider of the hovercraft employed by Hovercraft Training Centers.
With the Neoteric hovercraft's 100% buoyancy, Eric Groenlund and instructor Chris Fitzgerald stay
comfortably afloat during flight training on the Wabash River while Eric reviews the craft's controls
and its behavior with the engine shut down.
Hedberg and Groenlund’s company manufactures specialty trailers, both for the private sector and for the military. There is a growing need for hovercraft in Sweden, which has a large number of small coastal islands where the population doesn’t have direct access to rescue vehicles other than a helicopter, which is costly and often unavailable.

After researching hovercraft manufacturers they decided that the Neoteric Hovertrek, with its light weight and unique reverse thrust system, was ideal for operation in Sweden so they decided their first step would be to enroll in the pilot training program. 

Eric said, “We want to master them and know everything about it. The training sounded for us like a natural first step; we wouldn’t even go near it without the training. It’s like selling a helicopter to someone, thinking it’s a cool thing to have, but one needs to know how it works too! “.

Fredrik Hedberg (left) and Eric Groenlund (right) receive their
Class 3 Standard hovercraft pilot certification from instructor Chris Fitzgerald.

See a complete photo gallery of the Hedberg / Groenlund pilot training session.

04 June, 2012

Recreational Hovercraft Pilot Training: Michael Meissner

Michael Meissner of Glendive, Montana USA recently earned his Class 3 Standard hovercraft pilot certification at Hovercraft Training Centers’ headquarters. After purchasing a used Neoteric hovercraft from a previous owner, he learned to operate it on his own but, once he began the training course, he says he quickly realized the necessity of proper training – especially the classroom portion of the course.

“I’ve always been a technical person and could not go anywhere without the proper theoretical background training,” he says.

Michael Meissner (right) and instructor Chris Fitzgerald are ready for takeoff
on the Wabash River as Michael's flight training begins.
With a long career as an aviation electronics technician in the U.S. Navy and as an analyst for a systems engineering firm affiliated with Navy and Marine Corps aircraft programs, Michael is no stranger to flight … but flying eight inches above the ground is a new experience for him.

“Hovercraft are the ideal recreational watercraft, especially for fishing and nature cruising,” Michael says. He lives near Yellowstone National Park, an area with plentiful rivers and lakes – “the perfect location for hovercraft.” Glendive is located on the Yellowstone River near the North Dakota border, and is known as the Paddlefish and Yellowstone Caviar Capital of the World, attracting more than 3,000 anglers every year.

Michael was surprised to learn that no one in his area owns a hovercraft; he’s proud to be the first and hopes to spread the ‘hover spirit’ in his community. 

Michael Meissner (right) receives his Class 3 Standard hovercraft pilot certification from instructor Chris Fitzgerald (left).