Blair area residents may soon see a unique piece of aircraft taking off from the Blair Municipal Airport.
Chuck Griminger of Omaha approached the Blair Airport Authority during its Tuesday meeting about flying a powered paraglider from the airport.
Powered paragliders are slow-moving aircraft which use a two-stroke engine with between 10 and 20 horsepower. The noise is likened to that of a lawnmower motor. They can fly for about two hours at altitudes between 20 and 500 feet.
“In the powered paramotor community, I don't want to be the guy who ruins a good place for everybody else,” Griminger said of his request to fly out of the airport. “I'm looking to fly safely at Blair. The very reasons that an airport is good for airplanes also makes it a good site for powered paramotoring.”
Griminger said he would use the same grass runway used by the Omaha Soaring Club, which flies gliders mainly on the weekends. However, Griminger wouldn't interfere with their operations. Instead, he would fly mainly two hours before and after sunset.
“They are looking for thermals. With the vehicle I fly, I'm avoiding thermals,” he said.
Board member Dan Hunt said the airport authority can't prohibit Griminger from flying out of Blair.
“As long as you follow the FAA rules and regulations, you have every right to use our airport,” Hunt said.
Griminger, who works for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) out of Eppley Airfield, agreed.
“But I don't want to be the one who jams his foot in the door,” he said. “I only want to fly in places that I'm welcome.”
Board Chairman Geary Combs said the big issue is safety. Griminger, who is also a private pilot, said he would stay clear of the runway and approach paths.
“Welcome to Blair,” Combs said.