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Paramotoring, a growing outdoor sport, brings noise issues for some Central Oregonians

Efforts underway to quiet the motors

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Paramotoring, a motorized form of paragliding has become increasingly popular in Central Oregon, but also has sparked concerns among some.

Paragliding requires a person to launch from high points like mountains to catch air currents with their canopy, while paramotoring use a propelled paraglider that can launch from most flat surfaces.

“I mean, it's really a feeling of freedom,” Morgan Jobert, an instructor for Ryze Paramotor, a Bend training school, said Friday.

Jobert has been paragliding for over 20 years and now enjoys paramotoring as well, but noticed a difference in the way people view the sports.

As a paramotorist, he’s received a lot of complaints about where they fly over and the altitude they fly at.

Kimberly Phinney, lead instructor for White Owl Paragliding in Bend, said, “I believe the difference is with a paraglider you look up and go, ‘Oh, how pretty!’ With a paramotor, just like any motor sport, there is a noise to it.”

Noise is the main complaint she receives about the propelled paragliders.

People call her, thinking paragliders are the ones in the air making the noise. She said she understands how people may confuse the two outdoor sports, but they are regulated differently.

She said the noise issue appears to be getting addressed.

“They are looking on quieting them," Phinney said. " It’s been one of the largest things they’ve been trying to work on in the research and development is, 'How do we get the paramotor to be more quiet?”.

Jobert added that for safety reasons, paramotorists have to fly at lower altitudes when within a certain proximity of the airports they launched from, in order to avoid any close encounters with aircraft.

They need to stay below 500 feet, where they can react quicker and move if they come across helicopters or other aircrafts.

Jobert said he understands being lower in elevation at times can create a nuisance for some, but said paramotorists try not to fly over one area for a long period.

“We’re really aware about livestock, and when we fly, we have a good view on the next field we are going to fly above," he said. "And if we see livestock, we deviate from our flight path and try to gain altitude.”

Jobert added that paramotors can fly above any land, private or public, because their regulations require them to be in a safe airspace, even if it means flying lower near homes at times.

Once they are a safe distance away from airports, they can ascend into higher airspace, where larger planes fly.

“We’re somewhat considered like an airplane. We’re in the traffic reserve lines, so we do have to follow certain rules,” Jobert said.

Article Topic Follows: Outdoors
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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.

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