18 March, 2014

Hovercraft: new flexibility for Wilderness Place Lodge

Wilderness Place Lodge in Lake Creek, Alaska has the honor of being one of the top five salmon and trout fishing lodges in the state. But in their quest to be the best, co-owners Cory Wendt of Madison Wisconsin and Jason Rockvam of Clancy, Montana found a way to make it even better. That’s what led them to Neoteric and Hovercraft Training Centers.

The Lodge, located on Lake Creek River, offers some of the finest spin and fly fishing in Alaska. But the river and its surrounding streams have gravel bars, pinched-off oxbow backwaters, shallow areas and midstream islands – areas that boats and other vehicles can’t reach. And, as Cory says, “If one point is an impasse for our guests, it spoils the trip.”

To overcome these limitations, Cory and Jason explored their options and decided to add hovercraft to their fleet of 18-foot boats. But why hovercraft rather than other vehicles, such as airboats? “I don’t think airboats are that great. We wouldn’t use one. Our guests wouldn’t come; it would be too loud. They come up to get away from everything and airboats are just deafeningly loud,” Cory explains. “A hovercraft is the practical tool to get us from point A to point B.

To determine whether 4-passenger or 6-passenger hovercraft would work best for them, Cory took advantage of our Fly Before You Buy opportunity and came to us for Test Flights on Neoteric craft at Hovercraft Training Centers.

After his Test Flight on a 6-passenger craft, Cory (center) and his father Bob Wendt (right) board a 4-passenger Neoteric HoverTrek for their flight on the Wabash River with HTC instructor Steve Stafford (left)

And they’re off – joining a 6-passenger HoverTrek giving a Test Flight to a different group …

Before landing onto the boat ramp, Steve gives a final demo of how the Neoteric reverse thrust gives our hovercraft their extreme maneuverability. (And no, he didn't lose a passenger on the river! The two Test Flights in progress switched passengers downstream.) …

After touring the Neoteric factory and taking two Test Flights, during which Cory had the opportunity to take the controls, he was impressed with the flexibility of the HoverTrek. “It was smoother than I expected. I didn’t expect it to be able to go through all the mud and sticks. I figured all those sticks would break up the air flow, but they didn’t.” And it was certainly quieter than an airboat!

And he quickly grasped the importance of training. “I didn’t fully have an appreciation until I drove it; it started to feel more like an aircraft. I could understand why training is important – I’d read it and heard it but didn’t really appreciate it until I was at the controls.”

The season opens in June at Wilderness Place Lodge. And whether they’ll be flying with 4 passengers or 6 passengers, the guests will enjoy something new and exciting this year – a Neoteric hovercraft to easily take them wherever they want to go.

And the staff will enjoy the added convenience and safety. Currently they have to run boats to a village 25 miles away just to pick up their mail. And since they also operate as rescuers if there's an incident, a hovercraft will serve them well. He and his guests will feel much more secure with a Neoteric hovercraft - used by first responders throughout the world - on hand for safe and rapid rescue operations.

Learn more about Hovercraft Test Flights

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