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Powered parachute pilots take part in ‘adventure tour’ from Fort Kent to Down East

Motorized parachute pilots who flew out of Fort Kent prepare to land in Deblois in Washington County in early August. (Courtesy of John Gobel)

FORT KENT, Maine — A group of motorized parachute pilots gathered recently for an “adventure tour,” organized by local pilot George Dumond.

Eight pilots from around the state met at Fort Kent’s grass runway and small airport off of Strip Road on Aug. 10 in anticipation of a weekend fly-in that would take the group through Aroostook County and down to the blueberry barrens north of Cherryfield.

Prior to departing, Dumond led the group of enthusiasts on an aerial tour around the Fort Kent area, including Fish River Falls, the Fort Kent Outdoor Center, and Daigle Pond. Participants flew over the area while Ploye Festival and Muskie Derby activities were going on.

Some members of the Maine Powerchute Association camped out at Fort Kent’s small air port earlier this month as part of a fly-in gathering. (Courtesy of Kelly Martin)

“They were so impressed with the area, they didn’t want to leave,” Dumond said. In fact, the group spent so much time here, they had to skip one of their planned stops later in the week.

Members of the Maine Powerchute Association get together for about a dozen such fly-ins around the state each year.

“The flying is always fun,” said Dumond. “Every time we get together it’s like family.”

When not flying, the pilots and their families spend time exploring the host communities and socializing.

This year, most of the fly-in participants camped right at the small airport in Fort Kent. Visitors included pilots from as far as Gorham, such as association president John Gobel, and as close as Fred Haines from Presque Isle.

Dumound said that flying the powered parachutes is largely dependent on weather and that they do not handle well in windy conditions. That is why people on the ground will most often see pilots flying early mornings or early evenings.

Some pilots also fly at night, he said, with lighted canopies.

A motorized parachute pilot, who flew out of Fort Kent with other members of the Maine Powerchute Association, prepares to land in Deblois in Washington County in early August. (Courtesy of John Gobel)

The group of pilots eventually flew from Fort Kent down to Presque Isle. After that, they headed to a small air strip in Deblois in Washington County.

“There is this small airstip, out in the middle of nowhere,” Dumond said, adding that exploring such out of the way places is another reason for taking part in the fly-ins.

The next scheduled fly-in was scheduled for Bar Harbor, the first weekend in September. Although pilots fly the motorized parachutes year-round, most of the fly-in gatherings occur in the summer and fall.

Dumond said he tries to get to at least a few events around the state each year, although weather and driving distance are always factors. Last year, Dumond hosted an informal fly-in that coincided with Fort Kent’s September Scarecrow Festival.

The former airplane pilot and U.S. Air Force veteran is familiar with spending time in the air. But Dumond said he prefers flying his powered parachute to a fixed wing plane.

“It’s a great thing. You are going slow and you get to see so much more,” he said. “And, you already have a parachute on.”

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