Something close to that took place over Lincoln this weekend. Some
folks heard the buzzing and followed it. Others saw what looked like
magical jalopies soaring through the air. It could have been taken
for a scene out of the 1968 movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" where a
1910 manned vehicle magically flies through the air.
What it was, was the Midwest Paradactyls WingDing, a gathering of
powered paraglider enthusiasts this weekend at the Logan County
Mark Esme served as the coordinator and was assisted by Nancy
Stone as ground crew. Both are from Bloomington.
Esme said the name Paradactyls came out of the image created by
the gliders appearing like raptors of the sky.
This being a first-time event, the weekend started off slowly
with just a few people arriving on Friday, but by the end there had
been about a dozen participants. They came from all directions near
and far, including Decatur, Quincy, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
Early mornings and evenings on Friday and Saturday, and one last
time on Sunday morning, several powered paragliders could be seen
skimming through the air near the airport. To fly safely, the craft
need smooth air typically found early in the day and evenings.
Powered paragliders have a small, two-cycle engine and a
parachute attached to one of several choices of tubular structures:
sitting with three or four wheels or standing with a seat sling.
The open-air craft offer many advantages to those who would like
to experience the freedom of flight and similar adventure. Cruising
along at 22 mph under no wind conditions and anywhere from a few
feet off the ground to loftier heights, preferences usually range
between 500 to 1,500 feet above ground. The sport offers a different
perspective and a great view of nature and terrain at a slower speed
than larger aircraft, as well as an opportunity to take great aerial
The gliders' good visibility, low cost, quick and easy
accessibility have also proven to be a benefit in search and rescue
efforts, Stone said.
While no pilot certificate is needed, U.S. pilots must follow
Federal Aviation Administration regulations for ultralight vehicles,
found in Part 103.
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Esme said that training is strongly recommended before going
solo. Under controlled conditions, trainees are tethered, called
"kiting on a line," which allows the novices to safely learn to
steer, increase and decrease altitudes.
When it comes to the adventure of flight, the powered paragliding
is relatively inexpensive to get into at $6,000 to $9,000 for a
basic setup, Esme said. Additional expenses would be if a trailer or
cart is needed, though the back end of a pickup works just great.
Also, two-way radios and noise-canceling headsets are enjoyed by
most pilots wanting to pal around in the air or give directions to
go look at things together. It's just more fun that way, Esme
The cost of operation is low as engines use a combination of oil
and fuel delivering an average of three hours of flight from a
3-gallon tank, or a gallon per hour.
This year's participants enjoyed some fun and games that tested
skill levels, with a slalom-like setup and a beanbag target drop.
Esme said the Logan County Airport offered many benefits for this
kind of activity.
Everyone had a great time while here. A couple camped on-site,
and some stayed in local hotels. Participants enjoyed going into
town to eat and see some of the sights, as well as really liking the
Heritage In Flight Museum at the airport.
The Pardactyls hope to be back the same weekend next year, the
week after Father's Day, and to have more participants.
For more information