One-hundred-fifty pilots from all over the world will be descending on Lake Wales next week, but they won’t be flying in on planes.
They will most likely be bringing in their powered paragliders by car or truck for the “Wings Over Winter” from Nov. 4- 10 at Chalet Suzanne.
A powered paraglider (also known as a paramotor) is a motorized ultralight that is small enough to fit in the trunk of a car and utilizes a paraglider to fly.
The event will feature a trade show and competition. There will be free flying, timed races, aerobatics, spot landing trials, tandem instructional flights and a United States Powered Paragliding Association sanctioned qualifier competition will offer pilots entry into the world air games.
“It’s a great place to fly,” said Eric Farewell, referring to the pastures and groves in the area.
Farewell operates Aviator PPG, which is a school in Lake Wales that teaches people to fly.
Spectator admission is free and those who attend will have an opportunity to talk with the pilots.
Powered paragliders will take flight from 6:30 a.m. until 10 and 3:30 p.m. until 7 depending on wind and weather.
The best chance for the pilots to fly is when the wind speed is under 10 mph, Farewell said.
The paragliders have two-cycle engines that have only about 25 horsepower.
Farewell said they typically fly from 5 feet to 1,000 feet. However, Farewell said Ryan Shaw, who is planning to be in Lake Wales on Tuesday, has recorded the highest altitude for a powered paraglider of more than 25,000 feet.
According to Shaw’s biography, he broke 5 powered paraglider world records in 2012 and is ranked No. 1 in the United States.
Although many pilots will be staying at the Chalet Suzanne, which has an airfield, and camping there, Farewell said other pilots will be using other hotels in Lake Wales.
He noted that the local restaurants should benefit because pilots bring support people with them to help.