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From above: Powered parachute offers best view of area

Staff writer

Jarrod Jones gave several friends a tour of the city this weekend from the cockpit of his powered parachute. It was the best place to sightsee – 1,000 feet up.

Flat calm weather that followed Friday night’s storms was perfect for flying his powered parachute.

“It looks totally different from the air then it does driving around the countryside,” he said over a headsat in the cockpit of his Airwolf 912.

Jones dropped in Labor Day weekend to spend it with his in-laws, who have a cabin at Marion County Lake.

Jones runs a dental and optometry clinic in Hays with his wife, Stacey.

He bought the craft for the price of a small car a year ago when he needed something to do during COVID-19 shutdowns.

Flying it is now his therapy, but he is generous enough to take passengers like retired district judge William “Buck” Lyle and a photographer from the Record for a spin.

He likes to circle the county lake and fly low over nearby corn and wheat fields, but he stays within 5 to 10 miles of the airport because he feels he knows the area.

“Our route offers a variety of terrain,” he said. “I like to fly around the lake and then get low without having to worry about power lines.”

Jones accelerates the craft when he flies past the Marion Municipal Airport so he can wave to friends.

If they are brave enough, he gives them a flight.

“I have people say they are afraid of heights, and then we take off and it doesn’t bother them at all,” he said Sunday. “I think it’s because we are going so slow. And we can just fly four feet off the ground if we want too, for a while.”

Jones’ aircraft causes people to stop and wave at the flying machine as it cruises by.

The craft, which looks like a dune buggy powered by a propeller with a parachute attached, is popular in calm weather states but is not common in windy Kansas.

Turbulence in the Midwest atmosphere means it usually is safe to fly only for two hours after sun-up and before dusk.

Powered parachutes are slow-flying which allows passengers to take in a great view, but they can speed up when the wind is at a pilot’s back.

“When we turned around, we were doing about 50 knots,” Jones said of the flight past the airport.

Jones can soar pretty high when he wants too. Sunday, he climbed to 1,000 feet to get a good view of the city.

“You can go up to 10,000 feet — legally you can to up to 10,000 feet, if you want to,” he said. “I’m not that interested in that. All the fun stuff is down below.”

Last modified Sept. 8, 2021

 

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