July 29, 2013 - Landon Clipp has mowed hundreds of lawns, all for one reason: to earn enough money to buy a powered parachute.
It took 2 1/2 years for Landon to mow nearly 300 lawns - or about 225 acres - and earn the $7,000 needed to purchase a used modified Buckeye Millennium.
He is camping by his powered parachute near the Ultralights Red Barn this week.
Landon says he has been excited about aviation since he was 7 when he started flying RC airplanes. Then, in 2008, he came to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh with his Boy Scout troop. "Once I came to the Ultralights area and saw how relatively cheap powered parachutes were, I knew I could do that."
Landon, of Champaign, Illinois, says he began lessons when he was 13 or 14, and soloed at 15 in the powered parachute he would buy later that year.
No pilot certificate is needed to fly a powered parachute since it falls within the limitations prescribed in FAR Part 103.
Now 17, Landon has logged about 40 hours in powered parachutes, and he hopes to add to that time while in Oshkosh. "I want to look at all the airplanes here," he says, "but I really hope to get in some good flying days." He is also volunteering with a friend and his father, Larry Clipp, parking airplanes at AirVenture.
What is it about powered parachutes that he likes? "It's just very fun," he says. "It's so serene and no one bothers you. It's just you and the machine and it is very relaxing."
But the aviation community is half the fun, he adds. "There are so many people who are passionate about flying, and you can learn so much from them."
Landon, who will be a senior this fall at Mahomet-Seymour High School, says he plans to get his sport pilot certificate - although he ran out of time and money this summer.
In his free time, Landon says he enjoys operating a ham radio or playing guitar and piano.
"And mowing lawns," he adds, with a laugh.