“Even on a bicycle, you need training at the initial stage.”
One of the most common reactions that first-time hovercraft pilots have when taking a test flight or beginning flight training is how dramatically different the experience is than they ever expected. It is not like a car, not like a boat, not like a jet ski; flying a hovercraft is an experience all its own, unlike anything else. Because of this significant difference, the importance of proper training cannot be overstated.
But don't just take it from us. Hovercraft Training Centers' Terre Haute, Indiana headquarters recently had the pleasure of training a group of new pilots from Taichung, Taiwan who were happy to report on their learning experience. According to trainee Yueh Hsien Lin, learning how to properly fly a hovercraft is not only important for the functionality of the craft to be maximized, it is important for the safety of its passengers as well.
"It's very important for the pilot's safety, knowing how to cover different situations," Hsien Lin explains. "Before, we didn't know how to handle various situations or what to expect from them, we just didn't know. Now we do - and it's much more fortifying."
Hsien Lin and his colleagues described piloting a hovercraft as a bit like flying a helicopter, but also like riding in "one of those spinning cups at an amusement park." So, it is safe to say that there is a familiarity to hovercraft flying – it isn't an entirely foreign experience to pilots - but there is also enough unfamiliarity to make any new pilot a bit uneasy prior to going through an HTC training course.
In fact, when asked how he thought first-time hovercraft pilots would fare without training, Hsien Lin didn't hesitate to respond. "By themselves? With no training? They would die!" he said with a laugh. "They could lose control and hit something and get hurt. They should take training. Even on a bicycle, you need training at the initial stage."
Look at it this way: would you try to fly an airplane without being trained? Not if you know what's good (i.e. safe) for you! The same can be said for hovercraft.