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Terre Haute, Indiana USA to host 2002 World Hovercraft Week
World Speed Record Challenge and 27th International Conference on Air Cushion Technology

28 Jan. 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEHigh quality picture

"...hovercrafting, while popular in England and elsewhere in Europe,
enjoys relative obscurity in the United States.
But the time for riding on air may be at hand ..."
- Popular Mechanics Magazine, 1/9/99

"The time for riding on air is at hand . The World Hovercraft Federation has selected Terre Haute, Indiana, USA as the site of the 2002 World Hovercraft Championship" said Mike King, 'Voice of the Indy 500', as he introduced speakers at a January 28 press conference announcing the event. King announced that he will broadcast live from the September event.

World Hovercraft Week 2002 will take place September 15-22, 2002 at various locations throughout Terre Haute. In addition to the World Championship Race, the week will include the World Hovercraft Speed Record Challenge, the World's Largest Hovercraft Cruise, the 1st World Symposium on Hovercraft Rescue, and the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute's (CASI) 27th International Conference on Air Cushion Technology, to be hosted by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Preliminary state and national events to be held in Terre Haute were also announced:

  Hoosier Hovercraft Championship: April 27-28, 2002
Hoverclub of America, Inc. National Rally: June 13-16, 2002

The address of the Official Website of the 2002 World Hovercraft championship was announced, www.whc2002.com, where frequent updates will be posted as events unfold.

Press conference presenters included:

  Chris Fitzgerald: Chairman, World Hovercraft Championship; President, Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc
Kent Gano: Vice President (Americas), World Hovercraft Federation; Vice President, Hoverclub of America, Inc.
Cecil Scalf: Vice Chairman, World Championship; President, Hoverclub of America, Inc.;
Dr. Art Western: Dean, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, representing Dr. Samuel Hulbert, Hon. Chairman, World Hovercraft Championship;
Judy Anderson: Mayor of Terre Haute;
David Patterson: Executive Director, Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau;
Don Smith: Honorary Chief Marshal, World Hovercraft Championship.

Organizers and supporters call the event "Olympics-caliber ... the largest and most significant hovercraft event in the world ... one that will create global attention for Terre Haute." The World Hovercraft Championship will bring participants and spectators from as many as thirty nations to Terre Haute. For approximately half of them, Terre Haute will be their first experience of the United States.

Teams and spectators from China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Croatia, Turkey, Poland and Malta attended last year's World Championship, held in Weston Park, England. Additional countries are expected at the Terre Haute event, including Russia and Malaysia.

In discussing the genesis of his interest in hovercraft, and his move to America and Terre Haute in 1975, Australian-born Chris Fitzgerald described hovercrafting, though highly popular in other countries, as " ... a low-profile sport in the US, still in its infancy and not a money-making proposition." But he pointed out its growing popularity, citing the use of Neoteric hovercraft at Disney World and in the stage act of the comedian Gallagher. Hovercraft are also in growing use as rescue vehicles, used by the US Border Patrol, the US Coast Guard, and fire, sheriff and rescue departments worldwide.

Kent Gano and Cecil Scalf, representing the World Hovercraft Federation and the Hoverclub of America, Inc., explained that Terre Haute was chosen over all other bidding cities due to its rich heritage in hovercraft racing, and because the area is home to Hoverclub members with the expertise to manage an event of the Championship's magnitude.

Gano, a hovercraft racer, will be a World Speed Record contender during the World Hovercraft Championship, and his racing craft was exhibited at the press conference. The existing World Speed Record is 137.4 kilometers/hour (85.376 mph) achieved in 1995 by American Bob Windt on the Rio Douro River in Peso da Regua, Portugal. Organizers are waiting for confirmation that Guinness World Records will record and/or televise the speed record attempts.

In referring to the International Conference on Air Cushion Technology, Dr. Art Western of Rose-Hulman stated that it will mark "One of only a few times that Rose-Hulman has hosted a world conference."

Mayor Anderson and David Patterson announced that the World Hovercraft Championship marks two historical "firsts" for Terre Haute: the first time the city has hosted an international team sporting event, and the first time a world record attempt of any kind has been staged here.

According to Patterson, "This is an Olympics-caliber event, and it's a tremendous honor for Terre Haute to be selected as the site. Never in the city's history has an event drawn this many visitors on such a global scale. The Bureau and the city pledge our full commitment to making it a huge success."

A statement by Terre Haute's official historian, attorney Mike McCormick was read: "I cannot recall Terre Haute ever hosting an international team sporting competition. Although there have been occasions where individuals and/or machines from foreign countries have competed in sporting events here, this appears to be the first time in Vigo County history where teams from countries worldwide will participate in an Olympic format."

Mayor Anderson proclaimed the World Hovercraft Championship to be a perfect opportunity for the city to fully live up to its nickname as 'Pride City.'

Fitzgerald, Anderson and Patterson emphasized the need for city-wide participation in the massive preparations for World Hovercraft Week, and called on businesses, media, organizations, schools and residents to volunteer time, resources and expertise. Sponsorship opportunities are also available, for local, regional, national and international concerns.

Said Fitzgerald, "All those involved with World Hovercraft Week will enhance their business visibility, demonstrate community support, contribute to the success of the event, and have a chance to interact with a diverse group of international visitors."

He continued, "During World Hovercraft Week, Terre Haute will host hundreds of multi-nationals, influential people; their impression of Terre Haute will be their impression of America. Terre Haute is in the position to create or change their view of the United States as a nation."

The press conference was held at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. The center and Director Craig Cress, were recognized by Patterson as "the first of many Midwest businesses to take advantage of the visibility this event offers."

Don Smith, Chairman of the Board of Terre Haute First National Bank, and CEO of First Financial Corporation, was recognized as one of the city's first business leaders to give full support to World Hovercraft Week. Smith is serving as the Championship's Honorary Chief Marshal. At the conclusion of the press conference, Smith launched the first lap of the 2002 World Hovercraft Championship's Official "Pace Craft."

Organizations supporting World Hovercraft Week include:

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc. North American Hovercraft Manufacturers Association World Hovercraft Federation Hoverclub of America, Inc. The Hovercraft Museum Trust British Hovercraft Society Canadian Air Cushion Technology Society


Contacts: Sharolyn Herring, Marketing/Public Relations
Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc.
  Chris Fitzgerald, President
Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc.
Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc.
1649 Tippecanoe Street Terre Haute, Indiana USA 47807-2394
Telephone: 1-812-234-1120 / 1-800-285-3761 Fax: 877-640-8507

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