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Glider Riders

Never thought I’d live to see it. Grown men sprouting wings. Reaching for the stars.

Soon as I heard about it, the missus and I hurried up Plum Lick Road, down Bunker Hill/Cane Ridge Road, up Levy Road to Charles Johnson’s hay field and, I be doggone, there they were—the Plum Lick Red Barons—retired state trooper/attorney/gentleman farmer Charles Johnson, insurance agent Larry Elliott, and retired music teacher John Stegner. They were about to seriously hit a high note.

Frequently, I’m the last to know what’s hot and what’s not, power gliding being one of those phenomenon about to fly by me as if I didn’t know diddlysquat.

In case there’s somebody that doesn’t have the foggiest idea what I’m talking about, the next time you pull down Google from the Internet, type in “power paragliding,” “paramotoring,” or “PPG paraglide,” and rev up to take-off speed.

I know, Google is not everybody’s goggles. Trust me.

Over here at Plum Lick International Airport (what you get for trusting me), there are no ticket counters, no baggage handlers, no gift shops, no speed bumps, nobody telling you to take your shoes off.

What is available is a sight to behold on a still day when there’s no rumbling thunder, lightning flashes, not even a suggestion of a gust of wind.

Google will provide you with colorful pictures, but come along for a personally guided tour. See how Charles makes sure the cords to his power glider are not crossed. Note John at the end of the hay field with his radio connection with Charles as he powers east and his chute gathers friendly air. See John give the “throttle up” sign. Watch Charles ascend, bank to the north, and climb to the comfortable altitude of 300 feet, give or take some inches. He’s like the kid who dreams of one day pedaling to outer space on his little green tricycle.

Back on the ground, Larry is carefully checking his chute cords, making sure he really does have five gallons of gasoline, then follows Charles in the Plum Lick flight to the heavens. Nothing quite so entertaining as a grown-up kid with a newfangled toy.

John is next, the younger, more eager Red Baron, remembered as the tree trimmer between the house and the barn. “He gave that tree a haircut,” says one of the youngins looking forward to the day he flies like the grownups do. John delights in making touch-and-go maneuvers down to the last gallon of gasoline. Mercy, what a sight just to watch as the sun descends and the hot air cools.

Well, about all I can say is when any one of the squadron passes over our house, about a mile away as the crow flies, we go out and wave. If there’s time, we bring out the American and the Kentucky flags and unfurl with all we’ve got. Somehow makes us feel more secure. Ancestors buried nearby must be smiling too, wondering what another 100 years will bring.

Charles says the view from up there is as beautiful as can be, and I’m perfectly willing to take his word for it. Teaching old dogs new takeoffs and landings is for the birds. There’s a flying club school over in the Ashland area, or so I’m told, and I wouldn’t advise taking off in one of these flying gadgets without some lessons. No sir.

Missus says she’s ready for it, as soon as a two-seater is available. She wants to go up there, look down, and take some pictures. Guess I’ll let her do it.

One thing’s certain, I’m staying on the ground. I’ll wave the flag for my better half now that’s she’s been told about “the absolute joy of sitting up there and enjoying the world.”

I’ll say a prayer that a squall line doesn’t move in and take her back home to Louisiana.

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