To purchase a VHS copy of the program for $19.95, please call 618-453-5060 with your credit card information, or mail your check made payable to WSIU/WUSI in the amount of $19.95 to:

WSIU/WUSI
Marketing Dept.
910 S. Forest
Carbondale, IL 62901-6527


It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a... go-kart hanging under a parachute? WSIU/WUSI’s Backroads crew achieve maximum lift by traveling to the outskirts of Herrin, IL to investigate a high-flying sport called “Powered Parachuting.”

Thanks in part to the enthusiasm of people like Norm Burley, Roy Bieswenger and Jeff Lesan, Southern Illinois is becoming a hot bed for the sport. Burley, a retired airline pilot, built his own air park near Herrin--called Camelot Flight Park--for these odd-looking aircraft. Bieswenger, who taught Norm to fly, staged the first international Powered Parachute competition--the Prairie World Powered Parachute Championships--in his hometown of Greenville, IL. Lesan, a self-described Powered Parachuting fanatic, appears in the show during a visit to Norm's for practice, then heads off toGreenville a few weeks later to compete in the world championships. To demonstrate further the excitement this sport generates, WSIU/WUSI’s own Jak Tichenor braves the wind and cold for a spin in Norm’s aircraft.

Produced by David Kidd, Flight Under Fabric originally began as a segment about Burley. "We were going to do a piece just on Norm's Camelot Flight Park because it was such an unusual story for our region," said Kidd. "No one had heard about powered parachuting, much less knew about an air park dedicated to the sport." But when Kidd and crew arrived in Herrin to do the piece, they discovered that many of Burley's friend and acquaintances were on-site to practice for the Powered Parachuting world championships in Greenville. "We thought covering the championships would be a nice addition to the story on Burley, which we could then turn into a half-hour show," said Kidd. In addition to the uniqueness of the sport, Kidd discovered a few other interesting tidbits to add to the program. "Norm has added a barbecue station at Camelot Flight Park, so friends and acquaintances can enjoy a home-cooked meal and good conversation after an afternoon of flying. He's created a fun, homey atmosphere for everyone."

"Kidd shared that during many of his Backroads shoots over the years, he has always demonstrated the knack of being in the right place at the right time, capturing the kinds of unexpected, "one in a million" shots about which producers usually only dream. A case in point occurred during the filming of the world championships. "Norm had just been warned about approaching wind conditions and was told to shut it down," said Kidd. "As soon as he got out of his cart, it was tossed violently up in the air and turned upside down by a gust of wind." What makes Dave especially proud is that his crew was the only one to capture the incident, despite the presence of multiple St. Louis camera crews and independent producers who were also on hand to film the championships. "We used a digital camera to tape the aerial shots, which was loaned to us by Mike Cioni, an Emmy-award winning student producer for WSIU's alt.news."

For more information about Powered Parachuting—or to try it yourself—contact Norm Burley at 618-942-7275 or call Dream Flight's Camelot Flight Park, 618-983-3366 . To get to the flight park, take Illinois Route 37 one mile north of Johnston City, then turn left on Stiritz Road. It is located at 9614 Stiritz Road. You may contact Roy Beisswenger, organizer of the powered parachuting world championships, at 618-664-9706 or by visiting the official web site. Visit Ultraflight magazine's web site at www.ultraflight.com.

Videotape copies of Flight Under Fabric will soon be available through WSIU-TV. "When shooting the world championships," said Kidd, "we met a lot of people who make a living taping events like these, then selling the videos. We thought this would be a unique way to meet the demands of a niche audience for our programs and others like it." To request a copy of Flight Under Fabric , contact WSIU-TV at 618-453-5060.

Do you know any unusual people with interesting stories to tell? Mail your suggestions to: Backroads, c/o David Kidd, WSIU/WUSI-TV, 1048 Communications, SIUC, Carbondale, IL, 62901-6602; or email Dave_Kidd@wsiu.pbs.org.


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