Ragwing Field

Powered Paragliding (PPG) Fying Site in Southeast Michigan

Ragwing Field Information

 

Dreams of Flight

My dream of personal flight came true during the summer of 1998.  Launching a powered paraglider for the first time was one of the most thrilling moments of my life (only behind saying "I do" to my wife and my son's birth).  Of all the motorsports I've tried (and I've done just about them all), I've never tired of launching off the ground with my own feet using a motor and wing that can fit in the back of a small car.  It's simply amazing.

Now, like most people who fly {insert aircraft type here}, it always comes to mind how great it would be to own your own piece of property that you could fly off of whenever you wanted.  My dream of owning my own powered paragliding launch site came true in the spring of 2005.

Field of Dreams

A house search started on a cold, winter day in December of 2004.  I was looking for something closer to work (my commute at the time was 55 miles) and figured if we were to make a move, then why not find a house on a plot of land I could launch from?

The first house listed on an online real estate page ended up being the very one we bought (and after spending 2 months looking at a bunch of others first).  The property instantly met all my expectations (field and barn) and the wife's (house).  I could've saved all that time by just going with my first instinct!

The Field

The flying field is on the backside of the 10 acres we purchased.  It measures approximately 400' x 500' which offers a fantastic launch in any direction.  Here's a recent perspective shot of the field: 

The quality of the field as shown in these photos was not there when we first took possession (unfortunately).  From what was told by the previous owners, the land was leased by a local farmer for crop growing, with field corn being the last before we moved in.  Here's what the field looked like in April of 2005: 

Not a bad looking launch field, right?  Well, if you've never flown out of a cut-corn field before, you should realize that as you pull your wing up, there's a good chance of getting shreads of corn stalk stuck in your lines.  They either flail out behind like miniture windsocks (best case) or cause the lines to stick together (worst case!) creating a number of small cravats in your wing, and no amount of line yanking will remove them!

By July of that same year, the weeds took hold, which eliminated the corn stalk issue, but made the field increasingly difficult to launch from due to their increasing height (eventually topping 4 feet by autumn): 

 

 

By the end of 2005, it was obvious that I needed to A) plant grass, and B) buy one heck of a mower. 

Kick in the grass!

After talking with a local landscaper, he recommended I plant a grass type called Tall Fescue.  Its a wide, flat bladed grass, is deep rooting (which helps with controlling weeds), and is very hardy for the tough climate of Michigan summers and winters.  I ended up with 500 lbs of seed, which only offered 60% coverage for the size of the area (!), but that's all my budget at the time could handle and I figured it was good enough for my needs.  I could only hope that the seed would take hold and eventually flourish and multiply (and indeed it did!).

Its Mower time!

Now I needed a mower.  A big mower.  The carryover 48" cut tractor I brought with me from the old house would take over 3 hours to cut the field.  So, I looked at a number of gang reel mowers and cutters and eventually came across the "Green Beast": a 1982 Ransomes 350D.  It features an 11 foot cut and is propelled by a 4-cylinder Kubota 36 hp diesel motor, which in turn spins five 36" gang reels.  I can mow down the entire field in less than an hour with this sucker.  Ya gotta love ebay for finding the occasional gem in the rough (or the rough gem, in this case):

(2012 Update):  The Green Beast has been replaced by a zero-turn monstrosity of a mower (an Excel 4500 Hustler).  It takes a little longer to cut with it's 72" deck, but being a rotary mower, its easier to maintain and replace parts.  Plus, its more versatile since I can use it around the house as well:

As you can see, it all worked out pretty well thus far as I've got the field of my dreams right in the back yard.  There's nothing like looking out your window, seeing it's a flyable, and within 5 minutes being up in the air.  Life is good!

Mark Deseck

flyingndiving@yahoo.com 

Owner of Ragwing Field