By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: September 2009
Powered parachutes are open-air vehicles with two-cylinder engines that can reach 10,000 feet off the ground.
The first time you see a powered parachute, it’s downright astonishing – something like a dune buggy with a huge rear-mounted propeller dangling from a parachute, the whole apparatus cruising smoothly hundreds of feet off the ground. Intrigued? September 17 through 20, the Powrachute Extravaganza, the mother of all powered parachute events, is coming to Claremore.
The typical powered parachute is an open-air vehicle with a two-cylinder engine. It runs on regular unleaded gasoline, and can fly as far as 150 miles on a single tank. Its parachute is a sheet perhaps 550 square feet, and the machine can achieve liftoff at around 30 miles an hour. Air flowing through the chute creates lift, and the machine can fly five feet off the ground or 10,000.
Bob Hawkins, owner of Hawkeye Powerchutes, is coordinating the Powrachute Extravaganza’s move to Claremore. He offers powered parachute rides and sales. “I’ve wanted to fly since I was little, but I couldn’t afford it – planes are very expensive,” he says. “But when I tried this, I was hooked. It’s very addictive.”
Flight in a powered parachute is a glorious experience. The machine is open-air like a hot-air balloon, but unlike a balloon, it’s highly maneuverable. The cumulative effect is a sensation of flight much more personal than either a balloon or a plane of any size can provide.
Bob Hawkins, owner of Hawkeye Powerchutes, zips through the skies on a powered parachute.
Hawkins has been in the powered parachute business since 2000. In that time, he’s given rides to over a thousand people. “Powered parachutes are extremely safe,” he says. “The chute means you’re safe – you don’t need the motor to land. The chute is your wings and your recovery. It’s simple to operate, too – I could teach a responsible seven year old to do it.”
The annual Powrachute Extravaganza, the sport’s biggest event, is moving to Claremore. “We’ll have the biggest fly-in in America,” says Hawkins. “This year, we’ll have 150 to 200 machines, and next year we hope to have over 300. This really is the family reunion for this sport.”
The Powrachute Extravaganza will offer seminars and training, games, food and other vendors, and activities for the kids. There will be live music Friday and Saturday. Plenty of RV campsites with full hookups are available. Paragliders are welcome. There will even be a powered parachute giveaway.
“This is a good, safe, fun sport,” says Hawkins. “Flying in one of these is like riding on a magic carpet.” This is your golden opportunity to find out more. The 2009 Powrachute Extravaganza, sponsored by Ultra Flight and Cherokee Casino, is September 17-20 at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore. For more information or to register for the event, contact Bob Hawkins or visit www.powrachute.com.