Students Can Take to the Skies at iFly Indiana Powered Paragliding
Writer / Angela Cornell
Flying is a skill that people throughout history have wanted to master. With the first successful airplane flight in 1903, that dream became a reality. By the end of 2019, marking 116 years since the Wright brothers’ first flight, there were more than 664,000 pilots in the U.S.
Kevin Kemble, a local pilot and instructor, has been involved in aviation for 37 years. He initially learned how to fly ultralights, which are small, one- or two-seat planes. About eight years later he pursued his private pilot license.
However, it wasn’t until after Kemble’s father passed away in 2017 that his mind turned to other forms of flying.
“My wife and I were watching YouTube one day, and we saw somebody foot-launching paramotors,” he says. “I had never seen anything like that before. “I just decided that I need to do this for myself. After researching, I found a brand that I liked and ordered all the gear. After all the gear came in, I started practicing with it.”
For Kemble, paramotoring is far more than a connection to a community, or an enjoyable activity on a windless summer afternoon. It’s a way to honor his father, who served in the Air Force.
It didn’t take long for Kemble to fall in love with power paragliding.
“It’s the closest you can get to being a bird,” he says.
He also found a community surrounding paragliding.
“I spent a lot of time cutting the glider and working with some other paramotor pilots.” he explains. “Twenty-three days after my gear arrived, I made my first solo flight.”
Since then, he’s made nearly 1,000 flights, clocking around 1,750 hours total.
“I knew soon after I started flying that I wanted to make this what I do for a living,” he says.
After receiving the required ratings and training, Kemble was certified as a paramotor instructor and a tandem instructor – the latter meaning he can fly with someone else – through the United States Powered Paragliding Association. Soon he launched iFly Indiana Powered Paragliding.
The training that Kemble and his wife Terri offer is based out of the Starke County Airport and takes about 10 days. It’s an intensive course, but it pays off since students leave the class feeling comfortable flying on their own, and many leave with a PPG2 rating.
“Once you’re a PPG2-rated pilot, you’re considered a safe-enough, skilled-enough pilot that you can fly on your own with little or no supervision,” Kemble explains.
For Kemble and his students, power paragliding is an experience like no other.
“Most of my students have been dreaming of flying for years,” he says. “When I actually can see their face when they make their first solo flight and see them land, it’s so rewarding. I worked for a corporation for 32 years, and I don’t think I made anyone happy. Now I help just about every student achieve their dream. My main goal is to help people and keep them safe.”
Kemble says the cost for the course is reasonable, and includes all the equipment students need.
“To get your private pilot’s license now, it would cost about $12,000 just to get your license,” Kemble says. “You don’t own the plane or anything after that. For about $12,000, you not only learn to fly a paramotor, but you also get your paramotor, you get your glider, and you get all the equipment you need to actually fly. It’s just so affordable in comparison to any other kind of aviation.”
The equipment can be stored in a garage and can be transported in a standard family vehicle. It can even be launched from most two-acre open fields.
Kemble also has a paramotor shop at the Starke County Airport. There, he sells all sorts of paramotor equipment, including SkyMax paramotors.
“I have all the equipment you’ll need,” he says. “I also have access to any gear anyone would want.”
iFly Indiana Powered Paragliding is located at 1795 North 200 East in Knox. For more info, call 574-540-1378 or visit iflyindiana.com.