Float like a Butterfly, Buzz Like a Bee
RAVENNA – John Siman is standing in the Portage County Flight Center, where he is the manager, talking on his cell phone to his wife, Joan. Behind him the planes on the runway are silent but can be seen through the room full of windows.
He will be late, he tells her. He’s in an interview, talking about his other love: A massive purple, red and blue striped parachute attached to a two-seat, three-wheeled contraption that looks like a go-cart with a fan in the back.
“It’s like taking the scenic route and seeing things that people don’t see”
This is John’s powered parachute. Flying it, he says, “feels like you’re sitting up in heaven.
“It’s like taking the scenic route and seeing things that people don’t see,” John says. In his opinion, the best time to fly is early morning or early evening to watch the sun set. He and Joan have done this. They love to do this.
“Mother-O,” as they call it, has been taking them more than 500 feet into the sky ever since.
Before they bought a parachute of their own, John wanted to make sure it was something he and Joan could both enjoy. So Joan tested one first. Even though she was nervous, she knew it was something John loved.
“I liked it and said ‘sure go ahead and buy it,'” Joan says. Not long after, John was assembling their own parachute out of three huge boxes.
John says they don’t even talk when they’re flying. They just enjoy being together. Joan has no interest in piloting. “She just likes to sit back and be with me,” Siman says.
“I like it because he likes it,” she says.
Anytime there is a bump in the flight, they say Joan’s mother was thinking of them.
They dedicated the parachute after Joan’s mother because she died the same year they got it. “Mother-O,” as they call it, has been taking them more than 500 feet into the sky ever since. Anytime there is a bump in the flight, they say Joan’s mother was thinking of them. “That’s Mama,” they say. Joan says that it is also a way to tell her to keep them safe.— Jessica Lumpp is a junior Kent State University journalism student.
“While working on this story, it was so refreshing to see so many people so passionate about something. Aviation has crept into these people’s lives and changed them for the better.”