Saturday, March 7, 2015

Powered Parachuting Along Bridle Trails

My latest nemesis.

When I moved, I chose the location I live in now because the bridle trails were closed to motorized vehicles.  Where I lived before, the horseback riders were getting run off the trails by ATV drivers and motorcyclists.  Fast moving vehicles with loud engines driven by irresponsible people don't mix well with horseback riders.

Most of the time I've been able to ride my horses on the bridle trails here in peace.  Then the power company started flying up and down the power lines in their helicopters and driving their trucks up and down the bridle trails.  I was patient and held off riding my horses, because I knew the power company had maintenance work to do.

Occasionally, I get buzzed by rude helicopter and small plane pilots who see me out riding my horse and decide it would be funny to dive bomb me.  I usually respond by giving them the middle finger.  Fortunately, that only happens once every few months.  However, now we have recreational powered parachute pilots flying along the bridle trails every weekend.

Today one of them was following the main trail, flying no more than 50-feet above the ground.  The engine was ridiculously loud, disturbing the peace of my residential neighborhood.  I hoped that no one was out there riding a skittish horse, because this pilot's lack of consideration was a recipe for disaster.

I've been reading horse blogs pretty much every day for 8 years now, and several bloggers have shared stories about horse accidents or near accidents caused by air traffic.  I remember one blogger was riding along the beach when a pilot decided to land his small plane right near where she was riding.  Her horse handled it, but it was a fairly scary experience for both of them.  Another blogger was out riding with a group when a helicopter landed in the meadow where they were riding.  If I recall correctly, there was a chain reaction of horses bucking and bolting, and at least one rider was thrown off her horse.

I attempted to do some research on these powered parachutes to see if there are any laws regarding how low they can fly and where they can fly, and unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be anything set in stone to protect us horseback riders.  The FAA is only interested in preventing them from interfering with other aircraft.  I think there needs to be a minimum altitude law to prevent both noise pollution and accidents.  Granted, horseback riders are at the biggest risk of getting into accidents, but when these pilots fly that low, they become a distraction to car drivers who then don't watch the road.

If this were one of those once in a blue moon kind of inconveniences, I wouldn't be so bothered, but these pilots are beginning to monopolize the bridle trails.  They are out every weekend, and sometimes on the week days too.  They fly right over my barn when I'm doing chores and I can't hear myself think over the noise.  It's got to be deafening to be sitting right in front of that motor.  The pilots must wear ear plugs.

As with any hobby, annoying other people is the quickest way to make yourself unwelcome, so if you want to keep enjoying your hobby, you need to think about how it is affecting others.  I'm putting this post out there so that powered parachute fanatics will get the word out regarding avoiding flying near horseback riders and staying away from residential neighborhoods.  Some of us invested our life savings into living where we do because we thought we were going to get peace and quiet.


TeresaA said...

oh good heavens. I've never heard of such things. My horse would have a heart attack.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

One thought I had last night is that our mountains have attracted a lot of people from the film industry recently. I wouldn't be surprised if someone is doing yet another TV show in our area and they are filming from the air.

ellie k said...

Not only horses but little children that will have there hearing damaged from the noise. You know they will be interested and want to see and hear the flyers.

achieve1dream said...

Ick! That sounds awful!! :( I hope it's just a filming project and that they go away soon. I hope you're feeling better too!

Ian H said...

Talk to the FAA (at your local airport) and give them a tail number or two. Minimum altitude is 500 feet above ground level, and no nuisances. If you have been dive bombed, that is extremely dangerous for the pilot also. Get the number and call!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Ian - Thanks for the info. I knew somebody had to know something about minimum altitude requirements. They don't make it easy to find on the Internet. I'm probably going to need a seeing-eye person with me to read the numbers. My eyesight is less than what it used to be, and I don't wear my seeing glasses when I ride.