Nunavik search and rescue team campaigning to buy hovercraft

Nunavik Arctic Survival Training Center’s president says hovercraft would be ‘perfect’ for rescues as climate change makes operations more dangerous

Puvirnituq’s Nunavik Arctic Survival Training Center is hoping to purchase a hovercraft for search and rescue missions. (Photo provided by the NASTC)

By Jeff Pelletier

A Nunavik search and rescue team says the warming Arctic climate has forced them to look into buying a hovercraft to modernize their capabilities.

Paulusie Novalinga is the president of the Nunavik Arctic Survival Training Center, a Puvirnituq-based non-profit organization that teaches Arctic survival and provides search and rescue services to the community. He said a hovercraft would be “perfect” for the centre’s ice and water rescue missions.

“Now is the time to start thinking more modern, like, the hovercraft would be really good for rescues on thin ice or over water,” Novalinga said. “No reason why we shouldn’t have it here.”

Novalinga said the weather in Puvirnituq has been noticeably warmer than usual for this time of year, and that’s a big concern for seal hunters who spend their days out on the ice.

“The ice tends to be more dangerous than it used to be… It used to freeze over enough to support us, but these days, it never occurs,” he said. “The seasons are really late, and the ice is somewhat thinner nowadays.”

The centre has launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe with a goal of $600,000 to purchase the hovercraft and build a heated storage facility. So far the campaign has only raised $530.

The storage facility would double as a base of operations for the centre’s rescue diver team, he said. “We’d be fully equipped with diving equipment and people would be on standby full time.”

Novalinga said that maintaining a modern search and rescue operation is important in supporting Inuit hunting traditions.

“We would like to be funded,” he said. “It would very much help our way of life because we live off the land.”

Hovercrafts are not commonly used in Arctic search and rescue, said Tom Girrior, a representative for the Search and Rescue Volunteers Association of Canada in the Northwest Territories.

“The big issue with using hovercrafts in the North, other than that very few people use them, is the fact that they’ll be one hell of deal trying to maintain these things in the winter time,” he said.

Jason Hudson, the president of Yukon Search and Rescue, echoes a similar sentiment. In his experience of working across the North, Hudson said he hasn’t used hovercrafts for rescue missions. However, the risks of climate change are still a concern.

“The ice isn’t as consistent or known as it once was,” he said.

“Ice conditions or travel ways are not necessarily, particularly in the winter months, always what they were X number of years ago.”

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Thursty Coop’r on

    This could be a great opportunity for Fcnq Coop to contribute to the village while continuing to make enormous profits from beer sales.

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  2. Posted by Icy Islander on

    I owned and used a small hovercraft for ten years when I lived on an island in a New Hampshire lake year-round. They are noisy, difficult to maneuver maintenance headaches. However, they work in conditions when nothing else can, including a helicopter, and at far lower cost. The machine does not cost $600,000, but when you add in the storage facility, spare parts, etc. it’s very reasonable. If it saves one life, it’s worth it.

  3. Posted by buy NEW on

    If maintenance will be an issue, buy new. Also buy it a house. A house for it will last a long time and even become something else the trail years.

  4. Posted by Stan on

    Can’t you read ? 600 000 is to buy the hovercraft plus the garage

  5. Posted by Northern Guy on

    They will never be able to keep this thing running in the cold

    • Posted by George on

      You’re right – THEY probably won’t be able to keep it running in the cold. But responsible, knowledgeable people will not find it difficult. Small airplanes sit outside year-round in Alaska at much colder temperatures than in Nunavut and still manage to start and fly. You just have to equip the hovercraft properly and it will go.

  6. Posted by Good Luck on

    Let’s hope it lasts longer than the water and sewage trucks. If you get it off the sealift and into town. Improvement!

  7. Posted by Sherpa on

    Ever heard of a Sherpa? Amphibious truck that can climb 60 degree angles? Floats on water, drives on thin ice, you know.. fuel efficient. Starting at 160k for one of those. Buy 3 and you’re set. They’re made for Russia’s climate which is very much similar to ours. Nvm hovercraft.

  8. Posted by Public funds on

    An obvious misuse of resources. Time and money would be better spent educating and providing survival skills training. That way people will know to be prepared and when and where to hunt properly in a safe manner. Its not like the old days when hunters had no choice but to be aware, alert and on top of the game at all times. Survival of the group depended on it. One example of reckless behaviour is people going out hunting at full throttle towing a box of beer. Everytime you see some of these guys they have a beer in their hand. Not knocking a refreshing cold one but there’s a time a place for that and hunting on the land or sea is not one of them.

  9. Posted by John on

    I live on an Island and have been Hovering for decades. I would suggest you shelter your machine but let it stay in the cold. Freeze up is an issue when you bring a machine from warm to cold. There are some other tricks as well. But let it freeze fix the problems and keep it frozen!! You will find training and keeping enough people trained to be your biggest problem. Hovercraft preform poorly on water. I personally avoid water as much as possible. Deep snow can also be a problem, the light fluffy kind tends to be the worst. You can get stuck, visibility is an issue, it plugs up air filters. I fly by GPS in snowy conditions and carry spare air filters.
    The Christy you have in the picture above would be my dream but I can’t speak to their performance since I’ve never piloted one. What I can say is I had a Air Commander A6 safari that I lost to fire last March and replaced with a Hoverguard 1000 I have serious concerns about the whaight of the new machine

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