Ready to go to the rescue
Aircraft are Auckland Airport’s bread and butter.
But the organisation also has a little-known nautical flavour in the form of its search and rescue fleet.
Included is a Griffon 2000 TDX hovercraft.
Hovercraft driver David Brown says it’s a thrill to take the vehicle out on the water.
‘‘It’s just an awesome piece of equipment to operate. It’s like driving a car on a sheet of ice.
‘‘It goes where it wants to go until you tell it otherwise.’’
But the crew don’t get to take the vessel out on joyrides.
It’s used for training purposes to prepare the crews of three for rescue missions during plane or boat accidents, Mr Brown says.
The hovercraft has never been needed for a plane rescue but it has attended boating mishaps. Mr Brown recalls one case where a sailor had a heart attack. ‘‘There was a boat going round and round in circles. We found out what the story was – unfortunately the person had died.’’
The hovercraft is about 16 years old, can travel up to 40 knots and has four liferafts which seat up to 60 people each.
A jetboat and two lancer boats make up the airport’s maritime force, with a second hovercraft expected to join the fleet this year.
Great skill: Auckland Airport hovercraft driver David Brown says the vessel can be challenging to operate.