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Roswell Adds Hovercraft For River Rescues

WSB-TV, Atlanta, Georgia USA
14 June 2011

ROSWELL, Ga. - Roswell Fire Rescue has a new floating vehicle that officials believe will be able to rescue people in danger on land and water.

Image Neoteric Rescue hovercraft Roswell Fire Department Roswell Fire Department’s Neoteric rescue hovercraft’s exclusive reverse thrust buckets make it the only hovercraft on the market with effective brakes and the ability to hover backward. Channel 2 Action News reporter Tom Regan was the first reporter to get a test ride in the hovercraft, an all-terrain vehicle powered by a powerful fan that compresses a pocket of air underneath and propels it in any direction. That pocket of air gives the hovercraft the unique ability to go where no ordinary boat can go, especially along the Chattahoochee River.

"We're excited about the ability of this machine to get up the river faster and take away the obstacles that we had in the past and make a difference in someone's life." said Roswell Fire Chief Ricky Spencer.

Spencer drove the hovercraft from the parking lot of Azalea Park and into the Chattahoochee River with Regan on board. On the river, the craft rides on air about 8-to 10-inches above the surface. The vehicle is directed with motorcycle-like handle bar and has a top speed of 35 to 40 knots.

The chief showed Regan how the hovercraft can glide over shoals and sand bars that would ground a typical boat.

"The shoals are no longer our enemy. They are our friends." said Spencer. The unique air ride feature will enable firefighters to venture into treacherous areas of the river to rescue people who are trapped by rising water, Spencer said.

The hovercraft will be able to take firefighters from Azalea Park, where they normally launch, all the way to Buford Dam at Lake Lanier, nearly 30 miles upstream, according to Spencer.

Roswell purchased the hovercraft with a federal grant that covered 90 percent of the cost, around $58,000.

Spencer said for the next several weeks, firefighters will continue to undergo training on the vehicle, which is believed to be the first hovercraft in use in Georgia for water rescue.

See a Roswell hovercraft video
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