Hays native’s aircraft causes a stir in Marion
It may have been peaceful soaring over Marion, but the sight of Jarrod Jones’ aircraft caused people to stop and gape at the sky.
The contraption the Hays native pilots is a power parachute – an odd flying machine that looks like a dune buggy powered by a propeller with a giant blue parachute attached.
Popular in calm-weather states like Arizona, powered parachutes are not common in windy central Kansas.
“Out here in the Midwest you just don’t see a lot of them,” Jones said, adding that the aircraft can only be flown when winds are less than 15 miles an hour.
The aircraft soars up to 500 feet. Its open-air cockpit doesn’t impede the view, which turns flight into a magic carpet ride for nature lovers who don’t fear heights.
Jones towed his powered parachute with him in a trailer this past weekend to visit in-laws Ed and Bonnie Jarrod.
Both he and his in-laws have trailers at Marion’s county lake.
He dropped in on Terry Chizek’s fly-in at the municipal airport and did a little piloting of his own.
Jones said he liked having access to an airport, but the beauty of a powered parachute is that you can take off wherever you want.
He and his wife, Stacey, operate eyeSmile, a joint eye and dental practice in Hays, and have a family farm just north of Alexandria where his father cut runways into the pasture.
Jones bought the Airwolf 912 for the price of a small car and got a sport pilot license in response to COVID-19 shutdowns.
Flying it is now his therapy.
“You go up there and get away from everything,” he said. “It’s the closest thing to being a bird.”