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Sarah Dallof ReportingHollywood first introduced us to the hovercraft and the hoverboard, but that fantasy has become reality and is being used in rescue operations on the Great Salt Lake.
The hovercraft just zips along; you hardly notice when you move from land to water. But what is getting noticed is the Hovercraft Rescue Team, one of just a few in the country.
Brine shrimp and seagulls are normally all you expect to see on the Great Salt Lake, you certainly don't expect to see a hovercraft. But these vehicles, run by the Utah Test and Training Range Hovercraft Rescue Team, are now a familiar sight on the water.
Sean Cooreman, a firefighter engineer, said, "I feel more like Luke Skywalker on his XJ-34"
On this training mission the red craft is piloted by Capt. Cory Lingelbach and firefighter and engineer Sean Cooreman. They ran the first hovercraft rescue operation in March 2006 when an F-16 crashed into the lake. The pilot safely ejected, and the hovercraft team was the first to reach him.
Capt. Lingelbach said, "We took his vital signs, secured and readied him for transportation, and life flight arrived about ten minutes after."
One of the main pros of these hovercrafts is just how maneuverable they are. They can twist, turn, go backward and move forward. It also makes them a lot of fun. The lightweight crafts are ideal on the Great Salt Lake's ever-changing shoreline.
Capt. Lingelbach said, "We could fly over the land and the water both without getting stuck in the dirt."
They can reach speeds of up to 70 miles an hour on glassy water. The drawback is they're sensitive machines.
"If you don't react in time you'll hit something, and either you'll be hurt or you'll damage the hovercraft," Cooreman said.
The team trains about two hours every week. The hovercrafts run between $25,000 and $30,000, and they're made in Indiana.