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I wanted to answer the question, “Why do you drive over 40 miles from home, to Hop's Powered Parachutes, just to go flying? Is there not some place closer?” Yes, but not anywhere I'd rather be. Let me explain.
The best place to start any story is at the beginning. I had a love for flying that I inherited from my Dad. When I read an advertisement for powered parachutes in Popular Science my interest was instantaneous. I still hadn't shared my dream with my wife; she found out on a July 4th weekend when another group from Illinois was visiting a private field near where we were camping. I wanted to go for an introductory flight that second, but she wasn't convinced it was safe. Her feelings are hard to understand, much less explain; never the less, she went with me to the Buckeye factory a few weeks later.
At the Buckeye factory they were so nice; they gave us the complete tour and even let me sit in their newest model. At Buckeye they said we had to meet Hop; he was having a fly-in in 2 weeks and the newest model would be flying there. I and my family went to the fly-in and took an introductory flight. I, my daughter, and wife, all took introductory flights. The instructor was very friendly and very professional. I was hooked and the wife was too. I didn't have the money to buy one that second, but that didn't matter to Hop; he was just as nice as could be and invited us back anytime. Back we came.
I brought my Dad to meet Hop and to see the powered parachutes. He was immediately impressed; the pilots that were flying were so friendly and professional. One of the pilots offered me another instructional flight. During the flight he explained that he loved to fly, but the bigger joy was being able to share it with someone. I wanted what he had. Dad couldn't believe the kindness of this pilot and insisted I offer him something Dad was in failing health and made my wife promise to let me buy the best new powered parachute with the inheritance. Dad died the following spring.
When it came time to buy my machine, Hop was very helpful in recommending the right equipment for my needs. I couldn't wait to start flight training, so, Hop let me rent his machine. I remember how impatient I was, waiting for a calm day to learn to fly; Hop had all the patients with me. He refused to let me fly in questionable conditions; he cared for me like a father. Hop would always jokingly say, “I'd be glad to sell you parts”; he never really enjoys repairing crashed machines, though. Profiting from some ones misfortune is not his preference, but he is always there to help, just like a good friend. I've tried to explain how good Hop and others are to me and the quality of the training; it goes beyond that, though. They are my best friends, even family.
I love to fly. I love sharing my time and the joy associated with flying with others. I have made many friends. I have the privilege to share my experiences and help other students. I have great friends.
Friend, in closing, let's just say flying is not the same without all of you. I would rather share the sky with you than fly alone. As Hop would say, “The sky's all yours.” Hope to see you all enjoying the sky with me at Hop’s.