Paragliders eye EPCAL site for school

08/21/2012 4:00 PM |

LONG ISLAND PARAGLIDING CLUB COURTESY PHOTO | A local paraglider in action over Long Island near Rocky Point.

The Long Island Paragliding Club is hoping to use the Calverton Enterprise Park for a paragliding school.

Phillippe Renaudin, an instructor who heads the organization, told the News-Reveiw the club doesn’t need anything from Riverhead Town other than a lease to use the EPCAL site.

The paragliders, who sit in a harness beneath a parachute-like wing or canopy, don’t need airplanes or engines to launch, although they do have what’s known as a paragliding winch to pull gliders into the air as they take off.

The winch is about as big as a lawnmower and stays on the ground.

Mr. Renaudin said gliders on the winch can go as high as 2,000 feet, although the students would probably only go about 1,000 feet.

He said he believes his business can co-exist with Skydive Long Island, which launched its planes from EPCAL, because the paragliders would be far away from that operation.

“There are no resources needed from the Town of Riverhead,” Mr. Renaudin said. “By day’s end, the premises would be left as we found them. What we bring in, we take away with us.”

The group currently flies over a nature preserve in Rocky Point, but can only fly there when the wind comes form the north or northeast, which only happens about two times per month in the winter.

The club likes the EPCAL site because it has a variety of wind directions, Mr. Renaudin said.

“It doesn’t seem like a bad idea but we need to get our lead agency status from the state Department of Environmental Conservation first,” said Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter.

The lead agency would allow the town to lead the review of its proposed subdivision at EPCAL, rather than the state.

In the meantime, he said, he’s reluctant to approve any more uses for the site.

“We don’t want to be running afoul of any regulations,” he said.

tgannon@timesreview.com

LONG ISLAND PARAGLIDING CLUB COURTESY PHOTO | A student inflating his paraglider as the tow line is just beginning to pull him up. He will become airborne after running about 15 to 20 feet.

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