Since Paragliding Unlimited launched its first client in 2003, owner Jiri Sindler and his team have maintained a sterling safety record for their motorized version of airborne sailing. The crew teaches power paragliding, in which a motorized fan and a tank of recycled political bluster give lift to the featherweight craft. Once it has ascended more than 10 feet, its large wing catches the wind and buoys you into the sky. Drivers sit upright in "trikes," their legs extended in front of them as they work the two brakes and the throttle.
The school both belongs to and is recommended by the U.S. Powered Paragliding Association. Instructors will jump tandem with beginning students and immerse experienced pilots in six-day intensives, keeping fliers of all levels safe by capping classes at four students (they prefer a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1). At the accompanying shop, gliders browse clothing, new Nirvana equipment, and used gear. Flights lift off from Gateway Airpark in Pierron, Illinois, which the team selected for the staff's friendliness to paragliders and their ability to twist their bodies into the shapes of passing clouds for realistic trainings on the ground.
Unlike most flight-training schools that teach students how to fly planes, Easy Flight instructs clients on how to command open-air powered parachutes. These wheeled aircraft are equipped with a small motor and a multihued parachute that whisk flyers along on leisurely jaunts. Once in the air, pilots soar along closer to the ground than they would in an airplane, which gives them a more detailed view of the scenery below and the ability to distinguish a fresh buzz cut on a passing bird.
Since launching off from the shores of Fort Myers Beach in 1982, Paradise Parasail’s signature smiley-face parachutes have become an iconic image in the sky, now flying high above the waters of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Lake of the Ozarks. USCG-licensed captains navigate each of the company's boats as riders trail behind at heights of up to 500 feet. With feet flopping in the wind, thrill-seekers are free to wave to their friends, family, and nearby migratory birds. Parasailers can also pose for photos and videos captured by the company's onboard photographers.