January 24, 2005
Powered parachutes are coming to Libby February 11-14 for the third annual Sweetheart’s Fly-In. Event organizer Ron Denowh expects around 15 craft for this year’s fly-in, coming from around Montana, Idaho, Washington and British Columbia.
The staging area for the group is near the Nazarene Church (turn on Hamann Avenue from Highway 2 West). From there, the colorful craft circle Libby from an altitude of 50 to 300 feet. Tentative plans are to have the entire group flying in formation around Libby sometime on Saturday.
The event provides an opportunity for the pilots to gather and share their love of the sport with other enthusiasts. It also provides a great opportunity for spectators to view a rather unique sight in Libby: a gathering of colorful parachutes not typically seen other than at this annual event.
A fly-in can be found somewhere around the country on any weekend year-round, and somewhere in the northwest during the summer. Libby’s fly-in was first held in 2003, after Denowh organized similar fly-ins in Cranbrook, B.C. and Spokane, Washington the previous four years. Summer fly-ins typically attract a greater number of participants, but it seems only the hardy (who live in like climates) will venture to Montana to fly during the winter. But those who do come to Libby are, of course, struck by the beauty of the Cabinet Mountains and the Kootenai River.
Interest in the sport is growing. An entry-level craft can be bought for around $9000. Additional gear is minimal, with radios and helmets highly recommended but not required for flight. Denowh, who has been flying since 1992 and is a certified flight instructor, says powered parachutes are among the safest of all flying craft. Even if the engine were to fail, the inflated parachute still allows a steerable, safe landing, which he demonstrates to his students regularly.
Interested spectators are invited to the staging area any time to see the craft up close and discuss the sport with the pilots. For more information about the fly-in or any aspect of ultralight flying, call Ron Denowh at 406-293-8510 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.