Human beings have always wanted to free themselves from the shackles of gravity and fly like birds. This is what has led mankind to construct a dizzying array of flying machines - from helicopters, to airplanes, to rockets. But for people who want to really experience what it feels like to be a bird, these flying machines fall far short. Helicopters and airplanes simply do not provide the sheer thrill of soaring over hills and treetops, like a bird on the wing. It was to fulfill this desire that gave rise to the creation of powered parachutes.
Basically, this parachute is a combination of a motorized, gliding, flying wing and a parachute. When it was first invented in the early part of the 1980s, it was a crude contraption; however, today it is considered the ultimate in personal flying machines. Much of its popularity is due to it being one of the cheapest-powered flying machines available. Apart from being affordable, its size is such that when it is not in use, it can easily be stored in the garage.
Accessible and user-friendly
Besides being cheap, the parachute is also easy to maintain, repair, as well as operate. In the US, you won't even be required to get a license to operate these machines. Additionally, it is easy to learn to fly with this. For example, any average individual requires just a day to pick up the basics of flying this machine. Usually, most people get aloft on a solo flight after just five days of instructions. When flying, there is no danger of stalling or spinning out of control; hence, one can simply relax while cruising along, enjoying the marvelous views.
PPC is regarded as much safer to fly compared to other conventional aircraft, due to its inbuilt stability as well as limited response to pilot-control inputs. It has two basic methods of controlling the aircraft: the power of the engine, with which the rate of ascent can be controlled; and the bending of both or either of the parachute's trailing edges, to control the direction of the flight.
Its glide ratio with the power off ranges from 3:1-6:1. The glide ratio differs according to the parachute's shape and size, along with the weight that is carried by it. Landing with the engine off is fairly safe, as long as the pilot has adequate space for gliding in and landing.
Precautions to be taken
Perhaps obstacles and wind are the only things that have the possibility of causing danger while flying this parachute. Hence, it is recommended not to attempt flying in gusty conditions or at night. The risks caused by windy conditions also include turbulence caused by the wake of other aircraft passing by or by air disturbances caused by the terrain; hence, it is advisable to stay upwind of mountains, trees, and other such obstacles. Special care needs to be taken when flying near power lines. Also, landing on water can be very dangerous because it is easy to get snarled in the lines of a powered parachute sinking in water.
Apart from these precautions, when flying in the blue, the sky belongs to you, making this aircraft particularly popular with various people for a number of reasons.
One of the best advantages of flying this machine is the slow and low flight it provides, along with the 360-degree panoramic views, making it an ideal vehicle for photography and sightseeing. These parachutes are also used by search and rescue organizations, law enforcement agencies, and in agriculture.
An airport is not required for taking off and landing in this case, and therefore, they can be used just about any place that is free of houses or humans. Many pilots use mowed hay fields, smaller airfields, and airports. All these advantages make the powered parachute one of the most loved aircraft by flying aficionados.