Our Own Air Force

Personal Reflection: Gerald was always thinking of ways to escape, or bug out as many call it. Unconventional modes of transportation fascinated him. He wanted to travel in ways, and to places, others wouldn’t think of.

Once he went to Indiana to learn to fly an ultralight aircraft. The following fictionalized letter describes his experience.

Gerald brought back the pictures you see below. These are scanned copies. The originals were likely pitched after he died.

He bought a paraplane, but he never flew it. Sadly, it deteriorated in his yard for several years, like some of his other unfinished projects. Fortunately, we found a buyer for it when we sold his things.


Flying an Ultralight Aircraft--Photos 1 and 2

Flying an Ultralight Aircraft--Photo 3

Flying an Ultralight Aircraft--Photo 4


Letter from Karl

Dear George,

You can tell from the photos that some of the survivalists are learning to fly. Would you believe it, but that is me in the seat of the powered chute! Went to a place in Indiana to get checked out. I drove all night in a rental car, got there really early. First come first serve. I slept in the car at the guy’s campground. Since I got there first they took me first.

Pre-flight isn’t much. I knew about the “wing” from my kite flying experience with parafoils. The inflatable wing they use is a form of the Domina Jalbert design. Canadian guy, ended up in Florida–smart, eh? It is said he pulled the proportions off the wing of his Beechcraft Bonanza, you know those v-tail jobs of legend. Can’t prove it, but they are remarkable kites-parachutes-wings. Lot of lift

The engine powers counter-rotating twin props by belt drive. Steering is by foot controls. You push on the control and a cord pulls the leading edge down and stalls it so the other edge gains on it, is how Hop explained it to me. The only other control is the throttle. Couldn’t be more simple.

They stress that you have to “commit” and get up in the air when the wind is coming at you the way it was this morning. You take off right at a set of high-tension lines. Hop told about a guy who backed out and cut the throttle but didn’t hit the kill switch! The big parafoil collapsed from lack of air, right into the props. He said it looked like someone was plucking a chicken. Fabric and shroud lines all over the place. Another guy had a gust of crosswind blow him too near the edge of an equipment shed and he caught the wing on it. He ended up hanging there and they had to get him down with a ladder. He told me all this before I flew. I was nervous already. The only thing I ever flew before this morning was made of balsa and powered by a rubber band.

Hardest part was steering on the ground. You steer with a stick, forward and back translates into left and right. Kind of tricky, especially since the first time you do it is on your first takeoff. But when he felt I knew the ropes (literally) he gave me a set of radio headphones. I jumped when he did a radio check as he set them up pretty loud to make up for the engine noise at full throttle. He walked down the field and told me to give it a little throttle. This gave me a chance to learn how to steer with the fore and aft stick.

When I had enough speed to fill the wing he had me give it more throttle. I was looking at the ground and checking the steering when I looked up and I felt like I was too close to those wires. He said, “Full throttle!” and I gave it all the power. The machine jumped like it was being pulled up by a wire. I cleared the wires by a hundred feet. Couldn’t believe the lift it had. I pushed hard on the foot lever to turn and it responded really nice. Someone said there would be a delay, that the response was “mushy” but I thought it was great.

I felt at home right away. I had been told to avoid the neighboring farm house as they got tired of people overhead, noise, etc. Then I just circled for a while. He had me shoot a landing into the wind. You can cut the power (or the engine can stall) and come in ok. After all the wing is a parachute. He talked me through the whole thing. The ground did seem to come up pretty fast, but then he told me to gun it and I went up and flew some more. I didn’t want to come down, I was having such a good time.

You are only doing about 25 mph ground speed and you have total, all around visibility. He finally called me down. He has done this so many times he is able to station himself right where you stop. When he told me to kill the power I hit pretty hard, but the ground gear took up the shock. He watched me like a hawk to be sure I cut the power right away. No more chicken plucking, you know. It is a toggle switch. I had my hand already on it so I killed the engine ok and he had a big smile.

I got a certificate and had my picture taken which he put on the wall of his office. Guy there told me the police were recruiting fliers to look for pot plants. I am more concerned about other things we could see if we buy a Paraplane one of the boys is looking at. Know anything about Rotax engines?

I asked Helga if she was interested in a flight in one of the dual seaters they have. She said after the description I gave of my landing she is afraid she would give birth to our son way too early.. Did I tell you about him? Helga tolerates my experiments, but has gotten a lot more serious now. I respect her feelings and share them. You know women are not only the life bearers, but the life protectors too.

I feel we met, you and I, at a good time. I need to really get into the Bible. Helga and I are both thinking there may be weird times ahead and want to be spiritually ready. Most of the survival people are Christians, of different persuasions. . A lot of the survival types use the King James Bible. But what do you think? Is there one best translation, or are they all ok?

Your friend,



Author: Gerald Franz

Gerald Franz (1935-2014) was like a second father to me in the 27 years I knew him. Brilliant and eccentric, with a wide array of interests, he fit the definition of being gifted. He strove to shake people loose from their conventional thinking. As a Bible believing Christian, his favorite and most studied Bible subject was prophecy. Writing became a means of teaching in his later years. See more about Gerald here.