The Daily Republican Register recently published the following article about a week-long advanced flight training session conducted by Neoteric and Hovercraft Training Centers for an official from the Albuquerque Police Department. The training was assisted by first responders from the White River Hazleton Fire Department and their Neoteric rescue hovercraft.
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By Amber L. Nixon
MT. CARMEL - Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc. came to the Wabash River early Thursday morning to train several members of their one-week program.
The trainers, Chris Fitzgerald and Steve Stafford, have been giving advanced lessons to the group on the technique of piloting the craft both day and night, the mechanics of how the craft works and learning how to navigate swift water.
Albuquerque Police Officer Andy Montoya traveled from New Mexico to refresh his memory on the practices as well as learn how to pass on the skill.
“I finally had the chance to train with Neoteric up here, and since I hope to retire in a few years I need to be able to train others to eventually take my place,” said Montoya.
The group of trainees was out on the Wabash all day Thursday, staying until after dark to learn how to use night vision scopes and practice night rescue operations.
The White River Hazleton Fire Department have been involved in the past with three hovercraft rescues along the Wabash River, as well as several Gibson and Knox County rescues.
The volunteers consist of at least seven people who have had experience with the hovercraft, two of which are accompanying Chief Mark Ellis in the program with Fitzgerald and Stafford.
With the hovercraft balancing nine inches off the water, their experience can come in handy with the more advanced training over the rest of the week.
“The crew needs to know how to maneuver the hovercraft and how their movement can affect it,” said Ellis, “It can be very important in rescue.”
Although balance has to be watched while on the craft, those nine inches can be a definite bonus in rescue.
“The hovercraft can go right over a log, rocky shallow waters, sand, mud, you name it,” said Ellis.