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Thunder Bay business hopes hovercraft sales 'take off'

A business in Thunder Bay thinks it may have a market for a vehicle that can be used in remote areas, where it's not practical to use more traditional transportation modes.

A business in Thunder Bay is betting that this year's prolonged winter will boost its hovercraft sales.

Rick Prior, the co-owner of Loch Lomond Equipment Sales, said the vehicle is good for anybody working in remote areas.

Loch Lomond Equipment Sales co-owner Rick Prior poses with the company's new hovercraft. Prior hopes the vehicle will be popular with those with what he calls "remote access" needs, such as mining companies and northern First Nations. (Adam Burns/CBC)

"You know, people that are trappers. Anybody who's out there, in the wilderness, that needs to get places that they can't get to, especially at this time of year."

Prior said the hovercraft can be used in search and rescue operations.

"If somebody's out on Lake Superior, on ice, and [paramedics] can't get to them by boat, this is an option."

The model the company is marketing is an Air Rider AR45 Ranger, made by a company in Parry Sound. Prior purchased one of the machines for his company, and though he hasn't sold it yet, he said he has had lots of interest.

The hovercraft comes with a hefty price tag - about $75,000 for the five-seat model.

Remote First Nations Show Interest

Terry Harper, the acting chief of the Koocheching First Nation, about 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, said his community could use the vehicle for medical emergencies.

"Due to our remoteness, we have no way of crossing to our neighbouring communities during spring break-up and fall freeze-up."

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