The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.


2 seat powered parachute with canopy

flying at 420 feet above a farm in Tennessee
Saturday was a perfect day for my first powered parachute orientation flight.

This is a picture of me looking down from a cruising altitude of 420 feet.

I first read about these contraptions over 20 years ago in the classified section of Popular Science and have dreamed about flying in one ever since.
flying fortune synchronized
It was awesome!

My fortune cookie at the Chinese buffet afterwards seemed to be synchronized with the day.

The guy you see in the picture below is Jim Mac Leay. He's the super nice instructor and powered parachute owner that did most of the flying until he gave control over to me.

Flying a powered parachute with Jim on the radio on the ground

You pull back on the throttle to go higher, push on it to go down, and steer either left or right with your feet. It's just that easy. It doesn't go faster than 35 miles per hour and feels sort of like a golf cart in the sky.

The view up there is amazing!

I took a 2 and a half minute video that will be up on next week.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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In the past I've done both parasailing and ultralight flying. This sounds like a fun combination of the two. If only those engines weren't so incredibly loud!

Just remember that you can't outrun the weather in one of these! When I was doing the parasailing course, the wind up-valley was picking up on one of my longer flights. I had to go to the centre of the valley and do a wild corkscrew spiral to get down in time to prevent me from being blown over the top of the mountain and getting caught in a downdraft. That was kinda scary.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Oct 24 18:20:39 2010
Mark's been dreaming about this forever. I believe that he considered parasailing and ultralights along with other small powered planes and decided the powered parachute was the best of both worlds. Definitely can't be flown in any kind of weather, though. Morning and evening seem to be the windows of opportunity around here.
Comment by anna Sun Oct 24 18:38:36 2010
Afternoons and early evenings on sunny days is where it gets, well interesting. Because that is when you get bubbles of hot air (called thermals) rising through the atmosphere. That can be quite a ride in an ultralight, and dangerous for a parasail. Entering or leaving a powerfull thermal can collapse the parasail.
Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Oct 24 19:09:54 2010

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