Recreational aviation can be hugely rewarding in many ways, but creating a well-functioning and useful business in this sector of flying has challenges.
Some who try eventually hit upon the right formula but no one says this is easy. Technology has been particularly helpful to smaller enterprises, especially those that serve customers widely dispersed across the country. Whatever you think of social media, the fact is they help those with specialized interests find people who can provide services.
One fellow has found his magic carpet. His instruction calendar has a few available slots in 2023 but he has already almost filled this year’s schedule book. How did one man succeed and who is this story about?
I’ve known Roy Beisswenger, founder and proprietor of Easy Flight, for many years. I have long tracked his journalistic work for ultralights and LSA enthusiasts (Powered Sport Flying magazine) and we established a closer working relationship almost ten years ago as we sought change to regulations from FAA.
That work has been gratifying — and helped move the entire LSA industry forward — but Roy’s personal choice of flight and his passion is focused on powered parachutes.
While he was working in this field and building his enterprise, Roy and I linked up in a new way in 2014, the 10th anniversary of SP/LSA. Roy had compiled many aspects of the regulation that could be improved. He assembled an impressive booklet of desirable changes complete with suggestions. Working together, Roy and I drew people from industry, from membership associations, and from FAA to a meeting at Sun ‘n Fun nine years ago.
Roy’s hard work on advocacy for LSA — for which I was honored to be his partner at twisting FAA’s arm — has paid off in a big way. The coming regulation incorporates every initiative that Roy and I proposed for Mosaic.
But important as this work may be, that’s enough about advocacy. Let’s talk about flying machines!
A Little History — Before SP/LSA came along, in the heyday of powered parachutes, Roy made a name for himself by running the World Powered Parachute Championships for five years. Since the arrival of the Sport Pilot certificate, he became the first FAA Certified Flight Instructor and Pilot Examiner for powered parachutes. He uses these skills every day, focused on training students and helping them earn their Sport Pilot certificate in powered parachutes.
Today, Roy’s operation has become the leading provider of powered parachute instruction.
He Wrote the Book…
How can an entrepreneur make flying accessible to almost anyone, regardless of their experience level? EasyFlight’s main focus is a two-week training program that has the goal of helping someone earn their FAA Sport Pilot certificate to fly powered parachutes. EasyFlight.com makes flying more accessible in perhaps the easiest aircraft in which you can learn to fly.
Roy’s training program begins before the student gets to the airport. Anyone anywhere can start by studying a book Roy wrote on the subject. Roy’s Powered Parachute Book has 470 pages of content covering every aspect of flying powered parachutes. The inch-thick, large-format book is densely illustrated with many beautiful graphics that help explain everything. Roy admitted, “Writing a book wasn’t nearly as hard as illustrating the book.”
He combines the textbook with online training using the Brainscape app. Roy explained, “There is a lot of material to retain when learning to fly. By starting the ground training at home, students are able to get through the flight training, the knowledge test, and the check ride that much faster and stress-free.”
Brainscape is a web and mobile education platform that allowed Roy to create electronic flashcards for his students. The Easy Flight-proprietary flashcards allow powered parachute students to study on their laptop or phone. “They can learn twice as much in half the time,” Roy reports. Brainscape allows students to track their own progress and sync between devices.
“The program is designed for people who have little or no experience with flying, and it provides a gentle introduction to the world of aviation.” He advised that pilots will find Brainscape easy to use; no special tech skills are required.
Actual flight lessons are all taught one-on-one. Roy does most of the initial flight training himself, but he is able to call upon several experienced instructors who are also passionate about flying powered parachutes.
Thanks to a commitment to the safest practices, in the 30 years that Roy has been training powered parachutes, his program has been injury-free.
One of the key advantages of powered parachutes is their simplicity. These aircraft are designed to be easy to operate, and they require minimal training to fly. This makes them an ideal choice for people who are new to aviation, or who are looking for a more relaxed flying experience. The slow flying speed of powered parachutes makes them ideal low altitude sightseeing aircraft.
Powered parachutes are also very affordable. Affordable means a lot of things to a lot of people, but a Powrachute Airwolf with a Rotax 912ULS is half the price or less than most new LSA using the same powerplant. With a used two-stroke engine, some powered parachute are even more reasonably priced.
North or South — Roy has a dual-location operation. In spring and fall, flight instruction takes place in Dunnellon, Florida. Summer training is conducted in Greenville, Illinois. Fortunately, many student pilots are willing to travel quite a distance for training. Roy often serves students from the Midwest USA and the East Coast, but he has hosted students from as far away as California and Washington State.
“A surprising number of airplane pilots want to transition powered parachutes,” Roy noted. “Those aviators are looking for a different way to get into the sky and the open cockpit feeling is very appealing. A lot of airplane pilots tell me that this is how they always imagined flying to be.” Indeed, free and open. Ahhh…!
- EasyFlight.com, Roy’s powered parachute instruction website
- EasyFlight on YouTube, Roy’s video channel
- Roy’s Powered Parachute Book, business website
- Powered parachute content on this website
- Powered Sport Flying, link to magazine website
- FliteChek.com, the business website for Troy Townsend’s Pilot Examiner enterprise
If you want to learn more, visit the Easy Flight website. Roy’s book can be purchased at poweredparachutebook.com. And if you want to see some interesting videos on powered parachuting, visit the Easy Flight YouTube channel.
Notice to Techies
If you’ve been paying any attention, you can’t have missed the news about artificial intelligence and specifically a program called ChatGPT. Is this going to change journalism? Maybe…
As an experiment, this article was triggered by Roy asking ChatGPT to write a draft as though it was written by me. Roy tweaked it and sent it to me for final editing.
Is that still an AI-produced document? Well, yes and no. It certainly changed through human input. However, it was helpful to move things along more quickly and that’s one of the benefits many are seeing with this new technology. Since pilots are quite technically interested and adept, I thought readers would enjoy hearing about this use of AI.