Ready to go to the res­cue

Central Leader - - NEWS - By SCOTT MOR­GAN

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.

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