Building and flying powered parachutes will be the topic of a presentation at the Sun Lakes Aero Club’s first fall gathering Monday, Nov. 18, at the Sun Lakes Country Club Navajo Room.
The session opens with coffee and camaraderie at 6:30 p.m. followed by the presentation at
7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Speaker will be Gary Vacin, long-time pilot and Aero Club member, who built and flew powered parachutes when he lived in Nebraska. He described a powered parachute as a cross between a go-cart, a dune buggy, and a swamp buggy. The machine looks simple: a go-kart-type airframe, pusher propeller spun by an engine on the back, and a colorful parachute. Vacin likens flying a powered parachute to flying a lawn chair. “You’re sitting up there with the wind in your face, suspended under a parachute,” he says. “The view is simply spectacular.” The chutes are much like those used by skydivers, only much larger. The rainbow-colored chutes cover more than 4,000 square feet. The chutes inflate when the pilot throttles up as the machine rolls down the runway. Once inflated, the chute functions as a wing, providing lift as the aircraft heads skyward.
“We can take off and land almost anywhere,” Vacin says. “My favorite take-off spot was a terraced hayfield owned by a local farmer. We could take off and land in any direction, being sure that we’re heading into the wind. This is the safest kind of flying there is. If the engine quits, the chute stays inflated, and you just glide down to earth, using normal landing procedures.”
The Sun Lakes Aero Club is an official Sun Lakes organization made up of pilots, former pilots, and others interested in any aspect of aviation. The club has monthly gatherings November through April featuring speakers on a wide variety of aviation-related topics.
Future speakers will be Dr. Jeffrey Gaver, who will relate his experiences as a flight physician in Wisconsin, Dec. 16; and Chris Andres, Chandler Municipal Airport Manager, who will speak on the history and future of the Chandler Airport. The public is invited to all gatherings.
Additional information on the club is available from Cannon Hill at 509-539-7857, Gary Vacin at 480-298-7017, or on the group’s website, www.sunlakesaeroclub.org.