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Winnipeg paraglider charged, grounded by Air1

June 16, 2014, Winnipeg - A Winnipeg man who flies a powered paraglider has been grounded by Winnipeg police.


June 16, 2014
By The Winnipeg Free Press

The 34-year-old was arrested after the crew of Air1, the police
helicopter, saw him flying above Wilkes Avenue and Charleswood Road at
9:30 p.m. Thursday.

 

He did not have a licence to operate
power paragliding equipment inside city limits. He was charged with the
dangerous operation of an aircraft and was released.

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Police had been contacted by Transport
Canada aviation enforcement about the man, who had previously been
warned by the agency regarding his operation of the power paraglider in a
restricted area.

 

"It's absolutely out of the ordinary for us," said Const. Eric Hofley, noting it was the first such arrest for city police.

Hofley said the man posed a serious risk
to commercial and other air traffic headed to or from the Richardson
International Airport.

 

"It is a powered parachute or
paraglider," Hofley said, noting licensing through Transport Canada is
required. He said the unit was seized and impounded.

 

"It's like a 15-year-old kid with a car
who has never taken any driving lessons, doesn't know the rules of the
road and just went out driving," said owner and chief flight instructor
Barry Morwick of Adventure at Altitude, a local firm that instructs
people in how to fly the group of aircraft known as ultralights, which
include several kinds with motors.

 

"He's not only putting himself at risk, but all the other drivers around."

 

A powered paraglider has a parachute and a
small motor. This differs from a paraglider, also called a hang-glider,
which is an unpowered parachute that would be launched from a height or
towed up into the air.

 

"With this one (that) it sounds like he
had, he wore a big (motorized) fan on his back, about a 15- or
20-horsepower motor, and he runs with his feet, dragging this parachute
on the ground behind him. As the parachute gets enough speed, it floats
up above him," Morwick said.

 

Morwick said a 25-hour training course,
which costs about $4,000, and an ultralight pilot permit issued by
Transport Canada, are required.

 

"We've never had a
fatality in Manitoba because everyone in our group has been trained,"
said Morwick, who has been flying for 35 years and running his business
for 25 years.

 

"If he had gone through the engine (of an
airplane), not only would he have died, but he could have killed
everyone aboard the plane and anyone on the ground where the plane came
down," he said.

 

Morwick said a trained and licensed pilot
would have a flight plan, permission from the flight tower and details
on what altitude to fly to stay clear of other air traffic.