Chuck Kneeland of Soldotna practices ground control with his parasail shoot at Skyview High School
Parasailing is commonly associated with sunny beaches and sultry weather. Yet on a beautiful Alaskan day Chuck Kneeland was found practicing landings and ground control of his parasail at Skyview High School. Parasailing has become very popular in Europe where climbers modify parachutes to fly down cliffs after hiking up mountains. The sport however is milder than say compared to hang gliding with average speeds of eighteen mph creating a gentle glide towards earth. Kneeland says he actually does more parasailing in Maui, Hawaii and southern California than the arctic north. Here in Alaska he enjoys the slopes at Alyeska for parasailing. Compared to a parachute Kneeland says a parasail actually lets you gain altitude. The idea is to take off into the wind where you can catch an updraft and then stay up for as long as possible and enjoy the view, which in some cases may be as long as an hour.
Parasailing also differs from parachuting which averages of 30-35 mph dissent and involves jumping from an airplane and racing towards the earth. According to Chuck, “It’s a very slow moving aircraft and there’s nothing else around that’s this slow and you can really get to see a lot on the ground from the air.”
The image of jumping off the edge of a cliff voluntarily is similar to those who ask, “Why would anyone jump out of an airplane in good condition unless you’re mentally challenged, nuts or crazy?” To which Kneeland replies, “It’s an awful lot of fun and a great sport whether you’re by yourself or with friends. Recently we had some twenty-five gather for a fly -in rally at Alyeska and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.”
Kneeland says you can get started in the sport for as little as $4,000 and is just another example of technology giving Alaskans new ways of enjoying sunny summer days in the Greatland.
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