“It’s flying; it’s not a boat, it’s not a jet ski. Hovercraft are unique and you get a much better perspective in knowing what you’re dealing with when you know it from the ground up.”
As self-proclaimed outdoors lovers, James Walker and Brian Zwemer of Oak Brook, Illinois did not have a hard time warming up to the idea of hovercraft training. As employees of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., the two men are quite accustomed to operating various types of heavy machinery.
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock is the largest provider of dredging services in the USA, specializing in waterway and harbor maintenance by removing accumulated material. Additionally, the company restores eroded beaches, rehabilitates damaged wetlands and other aquatic habitats, and deepens existing harbors or builds new ones. Great Lakes' dredging fleet is comprised of twenty cutter suction dredges, eight hopper dredges, five bucket dredges, two drill boats, a fleet of hydraulic loaders, barges, booster pumps, and state-of-the-art survey vessels, as well as dozens of other specialized support vessels and land equipment.
One of the company's newest acquisitions to its impressive fleet is none other than a hovercraft, and prior to their flight training with HTC, the notion of flying a hovercraft was an entirely new concept for the two men. Not only were they open to the training, they each recognized the importance of the education and skills they would gain during their time at Hovercraft Training Centers. According to Walker, their line of work is all about "safety, safety and safety."
In fact, Great Lakes' highest priority is the safety of its employees, with the company promoting a culture of safety and commitment to training, awareness and the "mutual responsibility for the wellbeing of fellow workers." See www.gldd.com
When asked whether or not he thought flying a hovercraft would be easy, James Walker replied:
"It's more than just jumping and hitting a throttle. It's flying; it's not a boat, it's not a jet ski. It's a different type of mechanics and a different way of thinking. Hovercraft are unique and you get a much better perspective in knowing what you're dealing with when you know it from the ground up. The more information you have gives you less chance of breaking it if you know what you're doing."