Powered paragliding, Page said, is "as close to flying like a bird as you're going to get." Pilots are strapped into a bucket seat harnessed to an engine, propeller and a brightly-colored glider. But don't mistake the contraption for a flying lawnmower with a parachute. A powered paraglider is more complex an aircraft than meets the eye. A unit weighs about 85 pounds and packs enough power with a 26-horse power engine to reach heights of 10,000 feet. Some can climb altitudes as fast as 500 feet a minute, depending upon the pilot's weight and weather conditions. The glider or wing is similar to a parachute, but much lighter and is guided using hand brake toggles.
As a former civil engineer in the US Air Force and the grandson of two general aviation pilots, Page said it was love at first flight. "When you're out in the elements, the feeling of weightlessness is a great release. There's nothing separating you from nature. One of the most memorable flights I ever had was flying above the clouds and listening to Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' on my iPod. It was surreal," he recalled.
A pilot's license is not required to operate a powered paraglider, but pilots must comply with the Federal Aviation Administration's FAR 103 regulations for ultra light aircraft. The ideal flight time is within three hours after sunrise or a couple of hours before sunset to avoid turbulent wind conditions, and pilots must avoid flying near airports or congested areas. Aside from an occasional motor malfunction, Page has flown without incident for three years.
Page captured his experiences on digital video camera for over a year, then culled 100 hours of footage into a 90-minute, full-length feature documentary that he produced, directed and edited. Part reality TV and part extreme sports, the film has its humorous moments following two amateur pilots. The cinematography also appeals to travel enthusiasts with its scenic locations across West Texas, Colorado, Florida and Mexico.
The film earned a buzz in the independent film circuit after being featured in several newspapers, and radio and TV broadcasts in Texas and California. Last month, Page celebrated its world premiere at the 2006 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The documentary is currently being pitched to major entertainment distribution companies and could eventually appear in local theaters or on the shelves of movie rental stores.
Houstonians will have a chance to catch the Texas premiere of the film during the Worldfest Houston Film Festival, April 21-30, where the film has won the coveted Remi Award. "Into the Wind" will be shown at the AMC 30 Theater located at 2949 Dunvale on April 22nd at 5 p.m. The showing is open to the public and tickets are available for $6 on the WorldFest website or at the theater.
As for Page, on any given weekend, he's up, up and away. With clear skies and a good breeze, he can fly "into the wind" for about two hours at a time before refueling. For a glimpse of his powered paragliding adventures and a sneak peek at the documentary.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or info@into-the-wind
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