by Phil Scott
[In its November 2005 issue, Boating Magazine
conducted the following interview with David Mann,
Manager of Batten International Airport in Racine,
Wisconsin. Airports worldwide have long struggled
with the problem of migratory birds, primarily Canadian
geese, endangering aircraft. From 1990 to 2004,
more than 56,000 bird-aircraft strikes occurred;
bird/wildlife strikes cost commercial and military
aviation more than $1 billion a year.
Many airports spend hundreds of thousands of
dollars per year on bird mitigation efforts, including
methods such as frightening birds with model airplanes,
dogs, amplified recordings of birds in distress,
fireworks, propane cannons, flashing lights and
Unlike other airports, Batten International
has the distinction of discovering a solution that
works – a Neoteric hovercraft – for
a one-time cost of around $10,000 rather than hundreds
Airport Manager David Mann with Batten International
Airport's bird-mitigating Neoteric hovercraft
How 'bout them geese?
Yeah. We had one aircraft that took out five of
them. It was raining goose parts all over.
Birds and airplanes don't mix?
No way. A golf course nearby used dogs to chase
the geese, and they ended up at a flooded quarry
near us. The geese liked it so much, they stayed.
How many are we talking about?
Maybe four or five thousand geese.
That's a lot of birds.
And a lot of bird droppings.
So what did you do?
We did some research and found out that we needed
a hovercraft. It can go on land, ice, or water to
chase the geese.
Wait – you chase geese with a hovercraft?
Yeah. Works great.
How did you justify buying one to some
This is a private airport, so I can tell the commissioners
to take a walk.
What's it cost?
About $10,500, including a trailer.
Does this mighty vessel have a name?
Goose-Getter. I'm joking. No. It's a Neoteric hovercraft,
about 10' long, with a 56-hp snowmobile engine.
It goes about 45 mph forward, 35 backward.
Do you ever take it out for grins?
Yeah – it's fun. But it's not something you
can just get in and go. They gave us an eight-hour
training course. It's harder than it looks. It's
part motorcycle, airplane, snowmobile, and, of course,
Any hovercraft wisdom you'd care to impart?
It blows up a lot of whatever it's sitting on, so
we wear snowmobile suits or overalls. You do not
want to get into this thing with normal clothing
Read the in-depth article Hovercraft
eliminates aviation threat