August 3, 2003
Powered Parachutist offers to serve as police
EYE IN THE SKY
BY BARBARA MILLER
Of Our Palmyra Bureau
If you've seen a colorful powered
parachute soaring across Lebanon County skies recently, it was
Baron Tayler of Cornwall. His powered parachute is a hobby and
a vehicle he would like to use as a service.
Tayler has formed Emergency Low Level Aerial Search and Surveillance,
a division of the PowerChute Education Foundation, a nonprofit
corporation he created. He is offering to help area police and
firefighters search for lost or missing people. He would provide
the service for free, although he hopes to attract private donations
to defray his costs.
While no local departments have said yes to his offer, Tayler
is not dissuaded.
"We're going to be used. I'm not worried about that. Unfortunately,
it is going to happen," he said.
Several local police chiefs who met with Tayler said they will
keep him in mind, but they haven't made any commitments.
While Tayler agrees that a helicopter is the "ultimate"
search vehicle, he said the powerchute has some advantages.
It flies "low and slow," about 30 mph, might be more
readily available than a helicopter and is less costly to operate,
Disadvantages are he can't fly in rain, fog, at night or in
more than 15 mph winds; his range is limited to 2 - 2 1/2 hours;
and he can't fly over heavily populated areas, he said.
Baron Tayler and his son, Zeke, come in for a landing
at an airstrip in South Annville Twp.
The powerchute consists of a motorized three-wheeled frame with
a 500-square-foot parachute over it, connected at two points.
Tayler's two-seater has full instrumentation, redundancy and
He has a Global Positioning System and would like to add thermal
imaging to his search tools.
Tayler, who is a Web designer, learned to fly from an instructor
in Bloomsburg and earned his certification in less than a week.
"I've wanted to fly my whole life," Tayler said, but
it wasn't until he almost died from an aortic aneurysm four
years ago that he decided to tackle things he always wanted
A year ago, after researching types of aviation, he decided
on the powered parachute.
Powerchutes, he said, are the way flying was meant to be --
open, with full visibility on all sides, with freedom from a
predetermined flight pattern.
Baron makes sure all the lines to the
chute are untangled before taking off.
"Safety is everything," he says.
He also likes the fact that he can take a passenger, although
he is limited by FAA rules to someone taking a lesson.
Tayler would like to start E.L.L.A.S.S. chapters across the
country, and said he is being listed as a resource with several
nationwide missing children databases.
"I'm donating my time and my services, just because I want
to do it. I want to give back to the community, and this is
my way of doing it," Tayler said.
Still, it's infrequent that aerial searches take place in Lebanon
Chief Michael Lesher of South Lebanon Twp. said the last one
in his department was last winter, when a nursing home patient
wandered into a field. Fire department personnel found the person
with a thermal-imaging device.
Lesher said he would probably rely on a state police helicopter,
rather than a civilian craft, because it is manned with trained
law enforcement personnel.
Chief Ben Sutcliffe of South Annville Twp. Police Department
said he added Tayler to his list of available resources, but
he won't be sending an officer up in the craft, because he doesn't
have the manpower.
Sutcliffe said it's rare that his department launches searches,
with perhaps one taking place in the last 12 years. That was
a criminal matter, in which the state police helicopter was
Sutcliffe added he wouldn't want to put a civilian in jeopardy
in a criminal matter.
Chief Bruce Harris of Cornwall Police Department said that under
the right circumstances, he believes Tayler could assist his
"I think there are situations where it could be of great
use to us," Harris said, such as lost hikers at Governor
Dick or runaways from Philhaven Hospital.
But he's leaving it up to his officers whether they want to
ride in Tayler's chute.
"So far there haven't been any takers, although we haven't
had an opportunity to use it," Harris said.
Harris said his officers are aware of an accident two years
ago in which a woman was critically injured in a crash of her
boyfriend's powerchute at a Buffalo Springs airfield.
While Tayler said he doesn't know the details of that accident,
he said he is specifically trained and certified in flying the
two-seat powered parachute.
"Powerchutes generally are the safest form of flying ever
invented," Tayler said.
In just the last two months, he's logged more than 50 hours
in the air and is practicing with varying wind conditions, he
Copyright 2003 The Patriot-News. Used with permission.
Copyright © 2003 PowerChute
Education Foundation, Inc.. All Right Reserved.
ELLASS is a project of the
PowerChute Education Foundation, Inc.,
a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit
educational and charitable organization.