By Jesse DunsmorePort Huron, Mich.-based Eagle Airsports is a club made up of 22 powered-parachute fliers from the Blue Water region. Club president Jim Cottrell's powered parachute has an aircraft aluminum framework, a 65-horsepower engine with a prop, and a parachute. To take off, a flier unfurls the parachute and accelerates until it fills up and lifts the aircraft. Cottrell notes that the powered parachute can continue flying until it runs out of fuel. If the engine quits, landing can be done by maneuvering the parachute to move the vehicle to a clear space. The vehicle's controls are quite basic and can be adapted for individuals with disabilities. Rick Klein, a flight instructor at the club, has one arm, and he stresses that the power parachutes are extremely safe. "They're wonderful, wonderful flying machines. ... The plane will always center itself," he notes. "If it gets over on its side, the weight will always bring it right back down."
January 4, 2009