24 May, 2013

Neoteric Hovercraft on the scene in Washington bridge collapse

Two Neoteric rescue hovercraft operated by Snohomish County Fire Districts 19 and 21 were involved with rescue efforts last night when a portion of an Interstate 5 bridge collapsed, dropping vehicles and their passengers into the Skagit River 60 miles north of Seattle.

Four-lane Interstate 5 is Washington state’s major north-south artery, used by an average of 77,000 vehicles every day. Thanks to the rapid rescue response, there were no fatalities and only three people were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

“Thanks to the rescuers and a little bit of luck, with had three Skagitonians who made it out of the Skagit River alive,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee from the scene on Thursday night. 

Watch the breaking news coverage:

Neoteric rescue hovercraft on the Skagit River 
after the Interstate 5 bridge collapse. (AP photo/Seattle Times/Rick Lund)

More photos of the hovercraft in action:

23 May, 2013

Neoteric President Evaluates the U.S. Navy LCAC Training Program

Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald was invited this month to Assault Craft Unit 4 in Virginia Beach to review the U.S. Navy’s training protocol for LCAC (Landing Craft, Air Cushion) crews. 39 of the Navy’s fleet of 72 LCACs are based at Virginia Beach; the remainder are based in California.

Each LCAC crew consists of a craftmaster (pilot), a navigator, an engineer, a deck engineer and a loadmaster. All are trained using a preliminary simulator, then a Full-Motion Flight Simulator, followed by final training in actual LCACs – a costly protocol with low retention rates. Trainees spend two months of daily 4-hour intervals on the simulators before they ever get behind the controls of an actual LCAC.

Fitzgerald gives the preliminary simulator’s bow thruster controls a final check
before he boards the Full-Motion Simulator.
Craftmaster trainer Andy Sutter and Chris Fitzgerald prepare to board a Full-Motion Simulator
for a flight session – an integral part of LCAC training, but also one where many trainees
are excluded from the program.
In contrast, military aircraft pilots are first trained in light aircraft, then in heavy aircraft. As is the case with aircraft, the operating principles of light hovercraft are the same as those of heavy hovercraft. Fitzgerald, who is also founder of Hovercraft Training Centers LLC, has trained hovercraft pilots for decades, and he believes the aircraft protocol can be applied to LCAC training. His trip to Virginia Beach – which included a chance to pilot an LCAC on the Atlantic Ocean without any training – verified his theory.

Fitzgerald and Sutter ready to board U.S. Navy LCAC 50 for a proficiency flight,
which all LCAC crews undergo on a regular basis in order to hone their skills.
Prior to his LCAC flight in Virginia Beach, the largest hovercraft Fitzgerald had ever flown was a 20-passenger craft. After piloting the 100-ton $22 million LCAC, he observed, “I found it relatively easy, and that was with no advance instruction. I had no trouble getting over the hump, operating in a straight line, turning, modulating speed, stopping. I attribute that to my experience piloting smaller light hovercraft; it was pretty much second nature.”

In piloting the LCAC on the Atlantic Ocean, Fitzgerald’s experience piloting light hovercraft
easily transferred to the heavy military hovercraft. 
Hovercraft Training Centers is working with officials to develop a proposal for the U.S. Navy to consider utilizing  HTC to provide initial LCAC crew training. Not only would this expedite the process and lower costs, it would also improve the current trainee dropout rate because light hovercraft could be used to attract and prequalify suitable candidates.

Plans are underway for U.S. Navy craftmaster trainer Andy Sutter to come to Hovercraft Training Centers’ headquarters in Terre Haute, Indiana to undergo a 12-hour StandardTraining course, after which he will consult with HTC to determine the value of incorporating preliminary light hovercraft training into the Navy’s current LCAC program.

This method could also be readily applied to training crews for the SSC (Ship-to-Shore Connector), the new hovercraft intended to replace the Navy’s fleet of aging LCACs. 

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Here's a brief review of the featured articles in the May 2013 issue of HoverWorld Insider:

Read the backstory of how a quirky brainstorm from the NYC viral video agency Thinkmodo and golf pro Bubba Watson's sponsor, Oakley, evolved from a quick napkin drawing to a top secret production to an internet sensation. After what he calls a "media tsunami", Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald, who manufactured Bubba's BW1 hovercraft golf cart, has been flooded with calls from prospective buyers worldwide and expects the publicity blitz to have lasting effects throughout the industry.

The tsunami is best illustrated by the Bubba's Hover case study from Thinkmodo's website:

"The absolutely fantastic thing is that it is spreading the word that this technology exists and it can be used for doing lots of different things," Fizgerald explains. "I've been in this business for 50 years. You can pull your hair out trying to figure out how to get the information out ... In one fell swoop this has introduced light hovercraft to the world."

Mike Glanville, owner of U.K.-based manufacturer HovPod calls Bubba's Hover "the hovercraft scoop of the century," adding, "The viral effect of the story has given hovercraft in general a boost and we are eternally grateful."    Read the full story with photos and videos in HoverWorld Insider online ...

World's First Hovercraft Flight Academy

Hovercraft Training Centers LLC has launched its flagship location in Terre Haute, Indiana USA, offering light hovercraft flight training and maintenance instruction for rescue, military, commercial and recreational hovercraft pilots worldwide. HTC also offers franchise opportunities, a great way to make your next venture a true adventure and to get in on the ground floor of an expanding international industry. Read the full story in HoverWorld Insider online ...

and follow HTC on Facebook and Twitter.

The Mansfield Fire Department in Texas has joined the ranks of first responders throughout the world who can now fly across any surface in a state-of-the-art hovercraft. Read what first responders have to say about hovercraft making their rescue missions faster, safer and more successful in HoverWorld Insider online ...

Hovercraft in Commercial Operations

Canair Hovercraft manufactured light commercial hovercraft in Canada from 1988-2000 and produced only seven of its largest model - the Canair 512. Now two of them are finding new life in the tourism industry, with Cool Breeze Hovercraft Tours, opening this summer in Iowa USA and Hovertours Bremerhaven, soon to launch its second season in Germany. Read the full story with photos in HoverWorld Insider online ...

Hovercraft in Military Operations

The U.S. Navy plans to replace its fleet of LCACs (Landing Craft, Air Cushion) with the newly-developed SSC (Ship-to-Shore Connector); the U.S. and South Korea recently conducted joint military drills with light and heavy hovercraft in an atmosphere of heightened tensions; China has purchased four Zubr-class LCACs from state-owned Ukrainian arms dealer Ikroboronprom ... read the full stories with photos in HoverWorld Insider online ...

Hovercraft in Sport and Recreation

Every issue of the Insider includes a full listing of upcoming local, regional, national and international hovercraft events, along with reviews and photos/videos of recent events. See what's happening this summer in HoverWorld Insider online ...

Hovercraft in Education

Auburn University's Hovering Tigers bested the University of Alabama's Hoverteam on April 27 in the inaugural University Hoverbowl Challenge, the world's first intercollegiate hovercraft race. Read the full story with photos in HoverWorld Insider online ...

Hovercraft Manufacturer News

Every issue of the Insider publishes the latest news from hovercraft manufacturers throughout the world. Read the current news in HoverWorld Insider online ...

The next issue of HoverWorld Insider will be published in September.
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