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Powered parachutists take to Virginia air to complete goal

A group of 13 powered parachutists and their spouses from all across the country flew over South Boston and other parts of Halifax County on Thursday evening and Friday making Virginia the 48th and last state in the continental United States in which they have flown.

Perry Pahlmeyer of Durango, Colorado was one of the six powered parachutists who attended the Halifax County Heritage and Antique Machinery Festival at the fairgrounds Friday afternoon before returning to his RV parked with a half dozen others at William Tuck Airport.

The flying sensations, headed by “fearless leader” Dr. Bill Vietti of Kansas, have been traveling across the country for the past eight years taking up their colorful powered parachutes. Virginia was the only state left in the Continental United States in which they had not flown.

That changed Thursday evening when the caravan of RVs parked at the airport, unloaded their flying machines and took to the sky to finally achieve their ultimate goal, Pahlmeyer said.

Flying in springs and summers, the powered parachutists began their eight-year adventure in Carlisle, Arkansas in 2004.

Since beginning their journey, the group has flown over every type of terrain imaginable in the 48 states.

Traveling with the group was Ken Wilson of Houston, Texas who on Friday described the pastoral Virginia countryside they had flown over the previous evening as “simply beautiful.”

Dr. Vietti’s wife, Suzi, who also was among the group of flying artists visiting Virginia, holds the distinction of being the first woman to become a certified sports pilot, Pahlmeyer said.

After a visit to the annual heritage festival to absorb more of the area’s culture Friday afternoon, the group wasn’t sure where it would fly next.

With their goal of flying in all of the 48 states accomplished, Pahlmeyer said when the RVs pulled out of Tuck Airport Saturday, he didn’t know what adventure next awaited this group of traveling powered parachutists.