Wednesday, September 27, 2023 Sep 27, 2023
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Wylie’s Hovercraft to the Rescue

It's the most badass piece of safety equipment in North Texas.
By Bradford Pearson |

In April, a hitchhiker was picked up by five teenagers at a Dallas rest stop. A few minutes later, the teenagers pulled to the side of a bridge and—inexplicably—tossed the hitchhiker over the railing and into Lake Ray Hubbard. Stuck in the mud, the man managed to call 911 and waited for rescue. That came in the form of the Wylie Fire-Rescue department’s hovercraft. Floating on a 9-inch thrust of air, the hovercraft whips up to speeds of 35 mph and is mostly used in swift-water rescue or urban flooding situations. Or hitchhiker-stuck-in-mud-because-he-was-thrown-off-a-bridge situations. Because it’s not a boat, the hovercraft requires extensive training; only four of Wylie’s 34 fire-rescue squad members have been trained. The cost isn’t especially prohibitive (about $35,000), but the training requirements cause most squads in North Texas to rely instead on Wylie’s team. “It’s not a Sea-Doo or Jet Ski. It’s complicated. It really is,” says Wylie Battalion Chief Brent Parker. “If we were just giving carnival rides, we could probably make a pretty penny.” If this has piqued your interest in hovercraft (and how has it not?), you may be in luck. The company that sold Wylie its hovercraft is selling used ones for as low as $14,000.


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