July 21, 2007 Monticello, IN (added July 25) Don Jordan's Powered Paragliding Gathering
What a treat. I learned some things
about people that I've known for a long time. Good things. These are
some of our sports finest humans.
somewhat bittersweet since our fallen flyer and regular, Mike Rish,
wouldn't be here. It was good to spend some time with the folks who last
saw him alive. We did what Mike have wanted, though, we flew our brains
It was good to be among friends. Although
there were more pilots here than last time it is still an small enough
setting that we fit around a pit fire and trade big air stories. Egos
were left at the door as pilots enjoyed flying, watching, occasionally tearing it
up and solving world problems over dinner.
The weather. Wow. Lets hire whoever worked that out. You could hear
the corn growing it was so quiet in the morning. Even mid-day was
flyable. Gorgeous, soft mid-western thermals came through with slow
changes to windspeed.
The came, kabitzed, commiteed aviationjand enjoyed 3 days of absolutely
Herald Journal Newspaper Article
Jul 23, 2007; Front page; Page Number:1 By DOUG
BURNETTSVILLE — It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a — well, what the heck
Aircraft that wouldn't look out of place in
drawings by either Leonardo da Vinci or an episode of the Roadrunner
cartoon filled the skies south of Idaville over the weekend for a fly-in
at Boyer Flight Park, Carroll County roads 500W and 1200N.
dozen ultralight aircraft, powered paragliders and powered parachutes
turned out for the fifth annual event.
In recent years, ultralights, a small aircraft that resembles a cross
between a hang glider and a go-cart, have been learning to share the
friendly skies with their smaller cousins, the powered paraglider.
Attached to a triangular go-cart style frame or strapped directly to
the back of the pilot, the aircraft look like something that Wile E.
Coyote, supergenius, would have ordered from the Acme Company in pursuit
of the Roadrunner.
"They're really just like mopeds in the highways of
the sky," said Walter "Bucky" Hines, a paragliding enthusiast down for
the day from Rolling Prairie near South Bend. "That's what it comes down
"It's the safest form of flying because your parachute is already
open," noted Don Jordan, Monticello, a retired commercial airline pilot
and organizer of the event, now in its fifth year. After flying DC-10s,
Jordan tried piloting ultralights but decided they weren't to his taste.
He found that powered paragliding, a nascent sport that uses a parasail,
a small gas engine powering an aircraft propeller fastened to either a
go-cart like frame or by a harness directly to the pilot's back was
right up his alley, however.
"It's been absolutely beautiful today," said Jordan on Saturday. "We
couldn't really ask for better weather. To the untrained eye, a calm,
nearly windless midafternoon would seem the ideal time to take to the
skies. How then, to explain that the park at midday looked more like a
campground than an airfield, with folks camped out in and around their
recreational vehicles, seemingly in mid-siesta?
Anyone who has experienced turbulence while flying in an aircraft
already knows the answer. The speed and size of most commercial aircraft
help to mollify some of jolting effects of warm air pockets known as
thermals that pop up more commonly wherever the ground heats unevenly.
But to their smaller, slower, and lower flying cousins the ultralight
and the PPG, the plunges in altitude can be literally breathtaking."It's
not unusual to drop up there 300-400 feet," — and in a matter of
seconds, said Bob High, husband of Gail High, the park's cofounder.
Established in 1992 by Gail and her late husband, Bob Boyer, the long
grass landing strip skirted by row crops and wood lots has been
sponsoring fly-ins for ultralight aircraft since 1996. After Boyer's
passing in 2001, his family kept the legacy alive. "The kids and I kept
it going," said Gail. "That's how I met him," gesturing to her spouse
resting in the shade beneath the wing of his two-seater ultralight.
A White County native who returned to the area after 25 years with the
California Highway Patrol, High was piloting the Madam Carroll on Lake
Freeman when he was invited to attended at fly-in a the park in 2002.
"The rest is history," he said with a smile. "We got married — and I
learned to fly."
This weekend's fly-in was indicative of the park's future, as the 11th
annual fly-in earlier this year sponsored by the park itself marked its
last to be organized by the Highs and their families.
"The expense of putting on a fly-in is just outrageous," said Gail. But
fly-ins such as the one organized by Jordan will likely continue, she
said. "I'm going to keep the park open," said Gail. "We have way too
That's goods news for rookies like Tom Albers, St. Louis, who learned
to pilot PPGs from Jordan last year and was back with his own gear this
year. Albers' advice for those thinking of soaring like a bird with
nothing between them and the great blue yonder but a helmet and a
parachute or wing and a propeller? "Don't worry. You'll always come down
— you won't get stuck up there," he said with wide grin.
Delisio (Left), 18, Valparaiso, taxis in her grandfather Don Jordan's
triangular framed powered paraglider at Boyer Flight Park in preparation
for her first solo flight. Powered paragliders, or PPGs, are gaining in
popularity among amateur flyers due to their compact size and relatively
low cost compared to traditional airplanes. Photo by DOUG HOWARD