From lawn mower to powered parachute

Landon Clipp age 17

November 19, 2013

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The high cost of flying didn’t stop Landon Clipp from reaching to the skies. But it did make him look into another type of flying that most don’t consider — powered parachutes.

At 7, Landon started flying remote-control airplanes. But a one-day visit with his Boy Scout troop to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2008 made the then 12-year-old realize he could be the one in the sky. “Once I came to the ultralights area and saw how relatively cheap powered parachutes were, I know I could do that.”5-LandonClipp.jpg

So Landon, of Champaign, Illinois, began mowing lawns and saving money. It would be 2 ½ years and 300 lawns later before he had earned the $7,000 needed to purchase a used and modified Buckeye Millennium.

Landon says he began lessons when he was 13, and soloed at 15 in the powered parachute he would buy later that year. No license is needed to fly a powered parachute since it falls within the limitations prescribed in Federal Air Regulations 103, he says.

Now 17 and a senior at Mahomet-Seymour High School in Mahomet, Ill., Landon has logged about 40 hours in powered parachutes. While he has flown as high as 5,000 feet, he prefers flying at about 400 feet.

What is it about powered parachutes that he likes?
 
“It’s just very easy going and relaxing,” he says. “It’s so serene and no one bothers you. It’s just you and the machine…”

He also says it’s easy to fly a powered parachute. “I had about five hours of flight training before my instructor said I was good enough to solo alone.”

For others interested in powered parachutes, Landon encourages them to go online and do some research, and then, if cost is an issue, contact a local flight instructor to see if they know of anyone willing to sell their powered parachute.

5-LandonClipp4.jpgLandon says if you want to fly, you can overcome any obstacles. “Just keep an eye on the goal and you will achieve your dream. A lot of kids my age are buying $10,000 cars. If you can spend that on a car, you can certainly buy a powered parachute.”

While he seldom has free time, when he does Landon enjoys operating a ham radio and talking to people from around the world, playing guitar and piano, and building circuit boards from kits.

“And mowing lawns,” he adds, with a laugh. “But I think it’s time I branch out now that I have a trailer so I can mow lawns in other neighborhoods.”

That’s because he plans to get his sport pilot certificate next summer — he ran out of time and money this summer — and in the fall, start college for a computer engineering degree.5-LandonClipp2.jpg