By Kevin Dixon – Hovercraft Pilot
It has been a relatively quiet period for Hovercraft 1 since the beginning of the year. Most activities have been centred on training flights and testing of the craft after maintenance.
With the training tasks the craft was used with Coastguard crews for familiarisation of its ability to assist in their patrols around the mud flats. The hovercraft has been called many times by SA Police to carry out searches and assist stranded crews in the mudflat areas north of Port Adelaide which is in the area for Coast Guard Patrols.
The craft ferried crews from Nautic Star around the north of Torrens Island and back to the rescue boat to give some experience to other VMR crews in case they are used in emergencies.
One crew member (a skipper from Coastguard) was moving on to join the Australian Navy and was given the opportunity to have hovercraft flights in the area before transferring interstate.
A more recent run involved Francois Faber and Pilot Kevin Dixon coming across a stranded 12m yacht on the Section Bank opposite the St Kilda channel.
Evidently the yacht crew misplaced their location coming out of the channel in the dark and ran aground on an outgoing tide.
Training with the hovercraft has been an activity with many VMR groups and different emergency response teams over the years. These involved SAPOL, Ambulance and SES.
Lately the craft has been supported by the SA Government for continuing its role in the mangrove areas and has been cleared to continue patrols and training in the Dolphin and Bird Sanctuary expanses north of Port Adelaide.
The craft has been operational as an auxiliary rescue craft for well over thirty years and is currently registered as a Domestic Commercial Vessel through AMSA Canberra.