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  1. #1
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
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    Post Hovercraft lost in ND

    FORT YATES, N.D. (AP) - Crews working on this city's water
    system lost a $37,000 hovercraft owned by the Washburn fire
    department when the vehicle lost power, flipped over and slipped
    under the ice on Lake Oahe.
    The workers were searching for an area to lay pipeline when the
    accident happened Wednesday. The vehicle sank when it crossed an
    area of open water, the front engine became wet and shut down.
    Two firefighters and two engineers on board were rescued by a
    tugboat and were not hurt. Workers on the tugboat followed the
    hovercraft half a mile on the Missouri River, trying to attach a
    rope to it, but lost it when it slipped under ice.
    "It's still floating, but it's somewhere under the ice," said
    Washburn Assistant Fire Chief Clayton Berke.
    The fire department has no way of retrieving the hovercraft.
    "When the ice goes out in the spring I would like to go looking
    for it," Berke said. "With all the ice that's flowing and the
    currents, it'll be pretty beat up. And being under the ice for that
    long, the two motors will be junk."
    The fire department raised money three years ago to buy the
    rescue hovercraft to use in emergencies. Officials expect an
    increase in river traffic because of the nation's bicentennial
    celebration of the Meriwether Lewis and William Clark expedition to
    the Pacific Northwest.
    The fire department has used the vehicle to aid in the search
    for a man who drowned near Underwood, and to help people stranded
    on sandbars.
    "It was a very valuable tool for us," Washburn Fire Chief
    Dennis Hammling said.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


  2. #2
    Dispatch Dweller Jay911's Avatar
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    Default

    At the risk of inciting a huge discussion, which may or may not be the right thing to do.. does anyone else get a little miffed when they hear of fire apparatus being used in this manner? Sure, it may not have been needed while it was being used by the works department, but now the region is without it for at least the rest of the winter, and most likely much longer. There are regions up here that routinely have fire department water tankers that are used on a daily basis by the town works/water departments for their operations, and thus aren't always 100% ready for fire department use. That, or using ladder trucks to put up flags at city hall or along main street, or whatever..

    --j.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2001
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    Default Washburn hovercraft a total loss

    http://bismarcktribune.com/articles/...ocal/nws02.prt

    Washburn hovercraft a total loss

    By SHEENA DOOLEY,
    Bismarck Tribune

    Washburn's rescue hovercraft is floating under ice somewhere along the Missouri River after flipping over Wednesday afternoon near Fort Yates.

    Washburn firefighters, who own the Air Commander AC6 Hovercraft, were in Fort Yates with an engineering firm using the craft to grid the river and find a deep enough area to lay a pipeline. Hovercrafts work best in those situations because they float on cushions of air above the surface, avoiding obstructions such as sandbars and ice, Washburn's assistant fire chief Clayton Berke said.

    The group ran into problems when the hovercraft entered an area of open water and water sprayed the front engine, shutting it down.

    "That's no big deal," said Dennis Hammling, Washburn fire chief. "It's happened before."

    When the front engine goes out, the craft is used as a boat, powered by a rear thrust engine. But when the crew hit the water, the front nose dipped into the water, filling the craft with water. The four members aboard -- two fire officials and two engineers -- were wearing cold immersion suits.

    At that point a nearby tugboat came over to help, as the hovercraft was becoming increasingly unstable.

    "That's when we figured we were in trouble," said Berke, who was onboard the craft. "It's been swamped full of water many times but it's always been stable."

    But when the four left the craft to get on the tugboat, the hovercraft flipped over. The tugboat followed it half a mile on the river, trying to attach a rope to it, but lost it when it slipped under ice.

    "It's still floating, but it's somewhere under the ice," Berke said.

    Berke said the fire department has no way of retrieving the hovercraft, and it will be a total loss.

    "When the ice goes out in the spring I would like to go looking for it," Berke said. "With all the ice that's flowing and the currents, it'll be pretty beat up. And being under the ice for that long, the two motors will be junk."

    A representative from Air Commander said this is the first time that model of the company's hovercrafts flipped over. Berke and Hammling said they are wondering what happened.

    "We've had four to six guys hanging off the side to see its capabilities," Hammling said. "It's never been unstable for us in any condition."

    The fire department raised money three years ago to buy the rescue hovercraft as a safety measure for an anticipated increase in river traffic with the upcoming Lewis and Clark bicentennial, Berke said. The total price tag was about $33,000 for the craft, plus another $3,700 for rescue features.

    "The fire department had purchased it by not using tax dollars in the hope to go out of our district to help surrounding districts if they needed a craft like that," Hammling said.

    Hammling said, as far as he knew, it was the only rescue hovercraft in the state. Since its purchase, the craft has aided in the search for a man that drowned near Underwood and helped people stranded on sandbars.

    "It was a very valuable tool for us," Hammling said.

    Air Commander hopes to answer the question of why the craft tipped over, after they complete an investigation. Officials from the Washburn Fire Department are waiting for those answers and information from the department's insurance company, to figure out where to go next.
    "He who saves a single life, is said to have saved the entire world." TM

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Default Rescue Hovercraft

    There are a number of hovercraft operating characteristics that rescue departments need to be aware of when selecting a suitable craft.

    Some hovercraft "plough-in" - nose digs into water at speed, spilling contents. Number of reasons possible for this, weight of nose, trim, skirt design.

    Some hovercraft cannot "Get over Hump" meaning, get airbourne from an on-water start, so need to check the payload capability of the engine for on-water starting.

    Some hovercraft tip over - check this during demo - if the center of gravity is high, expect to roll over on cornering.

    Some hovercraft have poor buoyancy - check buoyancy rating before purchase. All these points are covered in our Buyers guide available at www.hovpod.com

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