Couple in 'ultra-light' fly friendly skies of Carroll

July 22, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

MARRIOTTSVILLE -- It's not a bird or a plane or Superman soaring through the air. It's Heidi or Terry Young taking to the skies in their powered parachute.

Two months ago, the couple purchased the Buckeye parachute, which is classified as an "ultra-light" airplane. They have been up in the air ever since.

"At least every time the wind lets us," said Mrs. Young. "The winds have to be less than 10 miles per hour."

The pilot can take the plane up as high as two miles, she said. Her favorite vantage point is about 300 feet up, where she can still wave to people below.

"You don't want to go too high," she said. "Then, you can't see the details on the ground."

The flying Youngs have ventured as far as Frederick and Owings Mills, but they find the friendliest skies are close to home.

"We love to fly around Carroll County," said Mrs. Young, 34. "It's so scenic."

A fuel-powered propeller moves the plane through the air, in much the same way a swamp boat, with a rear propeller, moves through the water, she said.

"The propeller gives air to the chute," she said. "When the air hits 25 miles per hour, the chute acts like a wing, lifts up and flies."

The cost of a new powered parachute ranges from $6,000 to $8,000. Used ones are available for about $5,000.

Neither of she or her husband has encountered engine problems, Mrs. Young said, and they ply the skies without fear.

"If you have any problem, you just float down," she said. "It's a lot like riding a roller coaster, only you are in charge."

Fliers don't require any special uniforms. A few landings in sticker bushes may make a pilot switch from shorts to jeans, she said.

The Youngs take turns flying and keep in touch with the ground by way of a CB radio. The pilot wears a helmet, equipped with a microphone and earphones.

"My husband will fly cross-country for about 90 minutes and I will drive to wherever he lands," she said. "Then, we switch places."

So enthusiastic are the Youngs about their new hobby, they are teaching friends and family, including a teen-age son.

"It's easy to learn, if you have a head on your shoulders," she said. "You don't need a license, just courage."

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