hill, dale and water too! New Range vehicles ready
29 October, 2004
Hilltop Times (Hill Air Force Base)
by Shad West
Response times for Fire and Emergency Services
at the Utah Test and Training Range will be dramatically
reduced, thanks to the addition of two [Neoteric]
hovercraft to the range’s arsenal of response
The vehicles, designed for initial response to an
incident or emergency, can carry a total of six
emergency personnel and one patient. The first vehicle
is a two-person hovercraft that can transport a
driver, a medic and a patient on an attached stretcher.
The second hovercraft can carry a four-person team
or two firemen, an explosive ordnance disposal technician
and a spare spot for an additional person or equipment.
In the past, emergency responders at the
range used trucks and All Terrain Vehicles.
Depending on the location of the accident
site, response times could be as long as three
“Using the hovercraft, we can launch
our response from Oasis rather than getting
on the access road and heading toward Wendover
on I-80 and then up into the range,”
Fire Chief David Kallman said.
Range Director Ron Short said that time is
of the essence when getting to a downed pilot
during an aircraft accident.
“Most of the terrain under the UTTR
consists of mudflats. During wet months, traversing
across the range is extremely difficult even
with ATV’s,” Mr. Short said. “The
hovercraft provides the capability to move
across any soil condition with speeds up to
An added benefit of the hovercraft is their
capability to traverse across water. Hovercraft
actually fly on a 10-inch cushion of air making
them the perfect response vehicles for Utah’s
west desert terrain.
“The Salt flats are full of crevices
and holes filled with water that slowed our
response times down, even with ATVs,”
Chief Kallman said. “The hovercraft
will actually glide over the uneven terrain.”
Use of the hovercraft isn’t limited
to aircraft crashes. Fire and Emergency Service
personnel support Tooele County and the surrounding
communities via a mutual aid agreement. The
vehicles can be used for search and rescue
operations, and to respond to vehicle accidents
along the I-80 corridor.
“Last winter there were about 25 accidents
where people ended up in the canals along
I-80,” Chief Kallman said. “Tooele
County emergency responders had to send for
boats after their initial response. With the
hovercraft, we’ll be able to get to
the victims a lot faster.”
UTTR firefighters recently took their emergency
hovercraft vehicles to Pineview Reservoir for
Photo by Shad West
Currently Chief Kallman and fire fighter Cory
Lingelbach are teaching the other range emergency
personnel how to drive the hovercraft.
“We were certified at instructor level by
the manufacturer,” Chief Kallman said. “Everyone
else is required to have six hours of hands-on training
and 10 hours of academic training.
“They can be hard to drive,” he added.
“In my 20 years as a fire fighter, I never
thought we would be using anything like these. They
are state of the art.”
After trying to train personnel near the Grantsville
lime plant, which accelerated wear on the skirting
that traps the air under the hovercraft, the UTTR
firefighters recently took the vehicles to Pineview
“We decided to use Pineview to save wear
and tear on the skirting,” Chief Kallman said.
When stopping the hovercraft, the air they float
on dissipates and the craft either sit on the land
or in water, much like a flat-bottomed boat. Using
a body of water to train the other drivers on prevents
the rough treatment that the skirting gets when
starting and stopping the hovercraft.
“Pat Crezee and her staff in the parachute
shop manufactured three complete sets of skirting
for us after we wore the initial skirting during
our certification training. They really came through
for us. They prevented any down time we may have
had and saved us $1,500 in replacement costs.”
While the hovercraft are an important aspect to
emergency response operations at the UTTR, Oasis
personnel hope that they won’t have to use
“It’s good to have the equipment necessary
for a timely response,” Chief Kallman said.
“Hopefully, we’ll only need to use them
here for photo galleries of the UTTR hovercraft
during manufacturing and training.