BOWDOINHAM (AP) – The operator of a powered parachute managed to avoid serious injury in a crash that left him dangling from high-voltage power lines.

Mark Rideout, who was flying the machine for a month-and-a-half, said he made a mistake that caused the parachute to tumble into the power lines, knocking out electricity to more than 100 Central Maine Power customers.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” said Bowdoinham Fire Chief Jack Tourtelotte. “He was wrapped up in 7,200-volt wires.”

A powered parachute consists of a parachute attached to a metal frame with a seat inside and what looks like a large fan in the back.

Rideout, who is disabled from a 1987 motorcycle crash in which his right leg was broken in 27 places, insisted that the sport is safe. And the 52-year-old Bowdoinham resident said he had no intention of calling it quits.

“If you fall off a horse, you get back on,” Rideout said.

Town Manager Bill Giroux said that he believes the runway Rideout took off from is on a privately owned farm on Ridge Road. There is no licensing requirement for runways serving such small aircraft.


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