Temptation strikes…

I’ve recently been reading about powered parachutes (also known as PPC’s), and they are very, very tempting! I’ll want to get demo flight first, of course, but I can see myself dangerously close to dropping $15,000 to get myself one of these babies.

A PPC is basically a three-wheeled go-cart with a large fan attached on the back, and a parachute, which acts as the wing/airfoil for the aircraft — hence the name, “powered parachute”. It’s considered one of the safest aircraft around — if the engine quits, the parachute is already deployed! Another advantage is that they’re a lot cheaper than traditional fixed-wing aircraft — only $12,000 to $15,000 new. In comparison, a new Cessna Skyhawk is between $150,000 and $172,000.

Speaking of costs, since they’re considered an ultralight by the FCC, you don’t need a private pilot’s license to fly one. Typically only three hours worth of instruction is necessary before you solo. That’s because they’re very easy to fly. There are only two controls: rudder foot pedals, which are turn the PPC left and right, and a throttle which controls altitude (and not airspeed — the airfoils are designed so that whether the engine is idling or at full power, the PPC always flies at a constant airspeed). There are no flaps or aerilons, or anything else!

They do fly much more slowly (a constant 26-30 MPH, depending on the PPC model), so they’re not practical for getting from point A to point B. On the other hand, a low-end fixed wing aircraft isn’t all that practical for transportation either — and general aviation is generally never cost-effective. People fly for the joy of flying, and a PPC seems to be a nice, cheap way of doing effectively that!

For more information about PPC’s, here’s a dealer in the Massachusetts area.