Would you fly in one of these things? Randy Long powerchuting on a sunset flight over the Sonoran Desert in Peoria, Arizona (AP photos)
Would you fly in one of these things?
Lexile

The enormous fan-like propeller behind the passenger whirs, then begins to howl as the pilot hits the accelerator.

The wheels bump along the desert and a small jolt tugs on the safety belts as the chute billows into the sky. A few seconds later, the strange-looking machine lifts off the ground. It floats away like a dandelion spore catching the wind.

So what's a powerchute?

"It's the closest thing to being a bird that you can imagine," said Randy Long of Arizona Powerchutes.

Powerchutes are a fantastic way to view wildlife from above, though the coyotes don't like the engine noise too much. Law enforcement agencies also have used powerchutes in search-and-rescue efforts. The machines move slower and get to more places than regular aircraft.

They look something like a dune buggy with a massive parachute attached to the back. The front end resembles a a three-wheeled stroller. The two back wheels splay out for support under the engine. The massive propeller that looks a little like an oversize house fan is behind the passenger.

Turning is controlled by foot levers that pull on the tension cords attached to the chute.

Yes, it's a little odd-looking. And it provides a flying experience unlike any other. The takeoff is quick and exhilarating. But the actual flight is even better.

Powerchutes short for powered parachutes are similar to powergliders in that both are small-engine flying machines. Powerchutes have a range of about 50 miles and top out at around 28 mph. The machines can fly up to 10,000 feet.

Unlike most aircraft, powechutes are allowed under FAA rules to fly down to the surface in uninhabited areas.

Powerchutes allow passengers and require a sport pilot license to operate. Powergliders either have a motor that attaches as a backpack or has a small buggy that goes with it. Powerchutes are larger with more powerful engines and bigger chutes.

They're also considered one of the safest aircraft around because of their stability. As Long puts it, the safety equipment (the chute) is already deployed before it leaves the ground.

The range of altitude and the relatively slow speeds of powerchutes provide an exhilarating flying experience. Operators can soar up high for spectacular views or dart along riverbeds from just above the treetops.

And because the machines don't need much space to get airborne, pilots can take off from backyard strips, small airports or even open fields.

Powerchutes are flown all over the country but tend to be more popular in places with warmer climates.

Critical thinking challenge: Why might powerchutes be safer than other aircraft?

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COMMENTS (311)
  • Jm1999white
    10/10/2014 - 08:37 a.m.

    because plain have more passengers and also it has more weight on the plain so if it does crash its coming down with a bang.

  • nb2000hare7
    10/10/2014 - 08:37 a.m.

    I would want to fly in this because I always wanted to go sky diving but I haven't so this is probably better and more exciting than sky diving

  • LucasU-5
    10/10/2014 - 10:09 a.m.

    This article is about vehicle called Powerchutes and they give a whole to meaning flying. Powerchutes resemble a dune buggy except it has three wheels and has a large fan that powers it through the air. However there is also a parachute that helps the vehicle take flight. Powerchutes move more slowly through the air and are useful for recon missions or just to get a unique flying experience.

  • diamondj4
    10/10/2014 - 10:23 a.m.

    This is about a flying machine called a Powerchute. It can go 28mph and goes 10,000 ft up in the air. They are one of the most safe flying machines.

  • alexi1125
    10/10/2014 - 10:31 a.m.

    yeah i would actually ride in this.It seems fun to drive and ride in . But my question is how long did it take to build it and how did he come up with this?

  • MargaretZ-5
    10/10/2014 - 11:27 a.m.

    A new way how to fly with the air craft, and it seems safer. They explain how the power chutes are a bit more open, in my opinion it doesn't seem as safe, but looks like fun. I would love to ride in one of these and see how pretty the view would be.

  • raevynj-Koc
    10/10/2014 - 11:50 a.m.

    A powerchute sounds so fun and I would defiantly ride in one! Although it may be dangerous it looks worth the risk! It's the closest thing to flying why miss out. It seems pretty safe to me just put on the safety belt.

  • OliviaV-3
    10/10/2014 - 12:05 p.m.

    The article was about power chutes. It tells that they are small, safe, and fun to ride in. You can take them over landscapes that you want to see from high above. They can also fly down low to the ground. They are easy to access because they can take off from just about anywhere. I liked this article because my friend went on one of these recently and I wanted to know more. I would like to go on one these one day.

  • EmilySchmidt4
    10/10/2014 - 12:14 p.m.

    I might do it with someone else but not by myself in case of emergency's. It looks like a go cart but flying in the sky.

  • Jadin
    10/10/2014 - 12:14 p.m.

    I would go on one of those they look super fun i mean if you fall to the frond you can just drive, it looks pretty safe to me but I don't know about other people.

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