Visiting pilots came ready to take to the skies at the 5th Annual Moonshiners Powered Paraglider Fly-In at the Johnson County Airport. Aviators flew in with basic foot-launcher-powered paragliders, trike-buggy-powered paragliders, quad paramotor-powered paragliders, and higher-end gyroplanes and gliders. Photo by Tamas Mondovics.
By Karla Prudhomme
Johnson County Airport drew a large crowd of aviation enthusiasts, visitors, onlookers, and of course, paragliding pilots this past week for the 5th Annual Moonshiners Powered Paraglider Fly-In. This year’s event that ran from August 4 to August 8 hosted 157 registered pilots, which is quite a jump in registrations from just a few years ago- exhibiting the growing popularity of paragliding and the ever-increasing appreciation of Johnson County’s scenic beauty.
Pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and visitors came ready for the five day event as they rolled in with campers, fifth wheels, tents, and most importantly, their powered paraglider. From the basic foot-launcher-powered paraglider to the trike-buggy-powered paragliders, the quad paramotor-powered paragliders, and the higher-end gyroplanes and gliders, the visiting pilots came ready to take to the skies. The pilots and the spectators came from all over the United States for this thrilling event, with a few hailing from as far away as Canada.
According to Johnson County Airport Director Dave Garris, this growing event started in 2015 by happenstance, when a few friends who were bound for a large paragliding event up north called him in hopes of securing the location.
“They asked me if they could use the Johnson County airport to paraglide, as the weather for the large event was turning bad,” Garris said.
Garris agreed to host the “Fly-In,” and the rest is history. Unbeknownst to Garris, one of the visiting paragliders was a well-known and widely followed paragliding pilot due to his thrilling paragliding YouTube videos. Once uploaded to YouTube, this visiting pilot got a massive response, as people wanted to know where in the world he was paragliding and how to get here. So, in 2016, Johnson County Airport hosted 86 pilots for the 1st Annual’ Moonshiners Powered Paragliders Fly-in’.
The Johnson County Airport has the potential to benefit the entire community- not only with excellent events that provide great family entertainment, but economically as well, as these visitors spend money in local businesses and restaurants.
“I am humbled that the citizens and local leaders of Johnson County allow me to run the Johnson County Airport and to put on these types of events.”
On August 24, the Johnson County Airport will be hosting the ‘National Remote Control Jet Competition, which will bring in competitors and visitors from around the country.