Skydiving is a popular extreme sport. However for some jumping out of a plane with only a parachute to save your life can be too risky. Although parachutes today are more stable and safer than they were decades before, fear of heights and faulty parachutes always haunt the mind and nerves of any first timer.
Wrong timing and faulty equipment can cause you falling to your death from thousands of feet in the air. Fortunately there are other options for those with faint of heart.
Fortunately powered parachutes were created. They provide a better and more controlled landing. This is a good alternative for those who are afraid of heights and don’t want to jump off a plane. Compared to skydiving they are far safer and very easy to learn.
It’s a parachute equipped with motor and wheels. It can carry one or two passengers. It’s also considered as the most inexpensive motorized air vehicle. A new one person powered parachute costs about ten thousand dollars. A top notch two-seater on the other hand costs about fifteen to twenty thousand. A motor scooter can also be converted which costs around six thousand.
Its airspeed is twenty five to thirty five miles per hour (that’s forty to sixty kilometers per hour) and can fly of up to one thousand five hundred feet. It can also go as high as eighteen thousand feet. The world record for the lowest flight is 10 inches. It can support up to five hundred pounds. One person variants don’t need a license to operate. They can be learned in five to seven days by an average student. They only need one hundred feet (thirty kilometers) of land to be able to take off and land.
They are safer than conventional fixed wing aircrafts because they are more stable, few control inputs and less stall resistance. They can be controlled by engine or moving its steering bars. The engine controls the rate of vertical climb while the steering bars cause deflection which initiates horizontal turns.
Landings are relatively safe as long as the pilot as has a suitable landing site. They often have square wings which are more stable, resistant to stalls and chute collapse. Other designs have elliptical wings which have more air cells than the square winged variant. Most collapses are due to pilot and error.
The only setback is weather conditions. They cannot be used when wind speeds are ten to fifteen miles pre hour. Other hazards include rotors and wake turbulence crated when other aircrafts are passing by. The pilot must also avoid obstacles such as power lines, trees, and other things that can be found in low terrains.
Powered parachutes fly near the ground so it’s much safer to fly upwind of obstacles. They cannot be forced to land on water because the pilot gets tangled with the parachute.
They can be used for photography and great for sightseeing. They are also used by flight organizations such as ELLASS (Emergency Low Level Aerial Search and Surveillance). It’s a search and rescue organization. They only need small airports, yard strips and mown hay fields for take off and landing.
Powered parachutes are good alternatives for those who prefer to stay close to the ground. They can be easily learned and safe for anyone.