It's not a bird, plane or Superman. It's Lynn Walton gracefully gliding over the Clay County skyways in his ultralight powered parachute. The self-employed building contractor started flying a powered parachute in 1999.
"I'm just kind of a thrill seeker and always wanted to fly," Walton said.
He won first place June 5 at the Lawrenceville, Ill., Annual Ultralight Fly-in sponsored by the Mid America Ultralight Club. First place was $100 and bragging rights for a year.
There were three categories involved in the competition:
- The bean bag drop -- Dropping bean bags from 100 feet up on to a target on the ground
- Sink the Bismarck -- Dropping softballs from 50 feet up on to a cardboard cutout of the battleship, Bismarck
- The accuracy landing -- A line is painted on the field, The pilot lands as close as he can to the line with the back wheels.
The 52-year-old rural Brazil resident explained the sport of powered parachuting recently.
A powered parachute is a sub category of the ultralight. An ultralight is a single seat vehicle weighing no more than 254 pounds and carrying no more than five gallons of fuel. However, there is an exception to the FAR 103 rule from the FAA.
For flight instruction, an ultralight can have two seats, weigh up to 380 pounds and carry 10 gallons of fuel. Walton has a beginning flight instructor rating so has the bigger, two-seater powered parachute.
He explained the initial cost of learning to fly a powered parachute. The introductory flight is $30. About two hours of ground school costs $35 and five to eight hours of training, in the student's machine, is $35 per hour. The big cost comes with purchasing a vehicle.
"A unit can run anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000," Walton said. "It depends on whether you want a Chevy or a Cadillac."
Walton flies his powered parachute about twice a week and logs an average of 100 hours a year. He loves flying at about 200-400 feet.
"It's relaxing and enjoyable," Walton said. "At that level you can look at the scenery, even the wildlife. When the machine takes off, the chute inflates behind you making the wing. When you get to 26 miles per hour it will lift you off the ground."
He keeps the machine at 26 miles per hour to maintain his desired altitude. With increased speed the unit goes higher. Decreased speed will allow the vehicle to decline as when landing.
According to Walton, there are at least three other guys in the area who own various ultralight vehicles. Dennis Bowman, Bob Bedwell and Jim Parr all participate in the sport.
Walton is a member of the Terre Haute Ultralight Club. The club is going to have a fly-in July 24-25, 1/2 mile south of Prairieton on S.R. 63. Anyone wanting more information on power parachuting may call Walton at 448-2164.