Paramotor pilot Jim King sent us an amusing account of how he became the focus of a false alarm involving two police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck Easter Sunday afternoon after he fell down while trying to launch his craft and
someone called 911.
“A gust of wind pulled me on my back and dragged me a short distance into a shallow ditch, but it must have looked a lot worse to some Good Samaritan,” said King, 63, who was not hurt. He has been a PPG pilot for nearly three years.
“I was setting up to try again when I heard all these sirens,” he said. “Then I saw a fire truck stop right by my pickup. A fire department lieutenant got out and approached me, and at the same time an ambulance came screaming across the grass from the opposite direction. Next two squad cars arrived with sirens and flashing lights.”
At that point the fire lieutenant, seeing that there was no emergency, began waving off other rescue officials. King apologized for the false alarm, but the officers did not appear upset. The fireman told King someone with a cell
phone had called 911 saying “an ultralight airplane had crashed” in this vacant field in far northwest Austin.
The ambulance left but four firemen and two policemen stayed, questioning King about PPG, and one policeman asked if it was legal.
“I told him it was, that we’re covered by specific federal rules, that I was familiar with them and the FAA sectional maps, that I was flying in Class E airspace at that location and I was allowed to fly as high as 700 feet above
ground,” King said.
Satisfied that no crimes were being committed, the six officials remained to watch another attempt. This time King pulled a reverse inflation without falling down and took off into winds that were definitely getting stronger. He made a couple of passes, taking pains to remain precisely above the 10-acre field, while his would-be rescuers watched from below. After they all left, King landed in increasingly turbulent air and fell down again. But this time he jumped up very quickly, moving around to show anyone watching he was all right.