Powered 'Chute Goes Turbine

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It may be the slowest jet-powered aircraft ever built but we bet it will climb. Powrachute, which builds lots of the familiar reciprocating engine-type chutes has, with the help of jet guru Les Shockley, strapped a former helicopter turbine to a basically standard powered 'chute frame and is hoping to fly it for the first time at Air Venture, maybe today. "One of our competitors criticized us for not being innovative," chuckled company president Eddie Johnson, who said the FAA (quite understandably, we venture) is having a close look at the paperwork necessary to put the chute in the air. Among the innovations on the engine is a shroud that mixes cool air with the exhaust gases to prevent the canopy (and bystanders) from melting. Now, don't expect jet-powered chutes to show up in Powrachute's catalog. For one thing, with an endurance of 15 minutes (burning roughly a gallon a minute), it lacks the economy associated with powered chutes and it's not likely to be popular with the neighbors. Like most of Les Shockley's creations (the jet truck, Jimmy Franklin's jet Waco) the jet chute is headed for the air show circuit. It may also head for some altitude records ... if they can find a mountain tall (and smooth) enough to launch it from (recall the 15 minutes of fuel).