By Jezza Syed
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, NO it’s David Blocksom. Blocksom is a resident of Rocky River and the chief financial officer of Ohio Cat, the distributor of Catepillar earth moving and power generation equipment. He uses an apparatus that allows him to fly. He told EN, once in flight “you are flying in an ocean of air; there is a total sense of freedom.”
As a child, Blocksom said he always wanted to fly. He said, “I flew commercial flights, and I always wanted to sit next to the window. The perspective from the sky is nothing like you see on the ground.” Blocksom is no amateur to the sky. In addition to commercial flights as a passenger, he has flown on private planes and has gone skydiving.
His method for flight today is different than one might expect. The contraption Blocksom uses to fly is called a Powered Paraglider also known as a PPG. The device consists of a wing (parachute) and an engine (paramotor). A propeller that is attached to his back makes it a Power Paraglider.
“The [flight] machines are made by a German company named Fresh Breeze, and my wing is made by a different company, Silex,” Blocksom said. Blocksom bought this equipment from a distributor in North Carolina called Southern Skies. “I purchased the paramotor and wing for approximately eight thousand dollars, including training,” Blocksom told.
There are a lot of steps to learning the skills of PPG flight. For one, a trainee must be given instruction by an experienced PPG flight trainer. Then the skill of flying must be conquered. “The first skill you have to learn is how to kite your wing above your head. Once you are proficient at that, you are close to being able to fly,” he said. Still, he admitted that the sport is not without risks, but that qualified trainers “will teach you the skills and educate you on the risks and how to avoid them.”
Blocksom has been flying this device for over 10 years. He said “before each flight my adrenaline and anticipation is high until [I am] in flight.” Once in flight, he explained that, “you literally are flying like a bird.” Blocksom even told of a time when he flew his apparatus behind a bald eagle down the Maumee River.
Personal flight is not for everyone, Blocksom told. For one, many people are afraid of heights. “Most newcomers of this sport are anxious and nervous,” Blocksom said, and he understands this fear. “When I’m in a tall building, like the Sears Tower in Chicago, and I stand next to a window and look down, I do get butterflies in my stomach.” But, he said that flying a PPG gives him no fear. “While in flight you are not thinking about anything but flying. It is a total escape from all the other things you are focused on daily. And after you land, there is quite a sense of calmness, accomplishment and always a WOW feeling,” he said.
Blocksom can be seen flying his machine at Avon Park next to the Avon YMCA, Hudson High School, and East Cleveland along Lake Erie. Blocksom warned, though, that not all areas allow this sport. Where he is allowed to take flight, he said that he is “always careful to respect the people that are in the area,” and that he tries not to be “a nuisance” for fear that the “local community will put regulations on their parks and lands to prohibit [this] hobby.”
Blocksom can be an odd site, and in his interview, he said that he is aware that bystanders are intrigued. Many ask questions. He said, “most people think I’m nuts for putting myself in a harness with a 48-inch prop on my back … to put myself in, what they perceive as a very dangerous situation. [But in the end], most of them think it is really cool and [say they] would like to try it if they were only not afraid of heights.”
Blocksom said that his wife and kids support what he does. He said, “My wife knows I love it [flying a PPG], and she encourages me to do it because it is really my only real hobby.”
Out of this sport, Blocksom said, “I have made good friends and they come from many walks of life. The one thing we have in common is a real desire to be airborne.”
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