Skytrails Ranch



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

Hiking Utah's trails is a great way to see some of the state's backcountry beauty. But an even better way is along the Skytrails-that is the Skytrails Ranch in St. George.

Judging from the name, you might think you're in for an adventure trip walking some of the state's mountain pathways. But the Skytrails Ranch is much more than that. It offers the experience of learning to fly a powered parachute, which is an ultralight small-engine aircraft that uses a parachute for lift instead of fixed wings. And for anyone sold on the experience, the company sells the aircraft as well.

The idea for Skytrails Ranch began on a whim. Company co-founder Frederick Scheffel had dreamed of flying since he was a child. But his hopes were dashed when, after entering the Air Force ROTC program as a teenager, he learned that his vision wasn't the required 20/20.

But in the late nineties, Frederick learned of another opportunity to fly. His optometrist, Dr. Paul Gooch, told him about powered parachutes. Paul had flown quite a bit and suggested that starting a training school could be a great business. Frederick liked the idea, and shortly after he had taken his first flight in 1999, he and Paul started the Skytrails Ranch.

Now three years later, the Skytrails Ranch teaches flying lessons and sells powered parachutes. In fact, Skytrails is the Western U.S. distributor for the leading brandÑPowrachute. And nearly every weekend, Frederick and Paul introduce a full class of students to the thrill of flying. Courses range from introductory 15-minute flights to three- and four-day experiences that are split between classroom learning and actual flying. Students don't need a license to fly or a medical examination. And the classes don't cost a lot either. A three-day package, including complete training and use of a parachute, is less than $1,500.

In addition to teaching classes and selling the chutes, Frederick and Paul have volunteered the services of their company to the Washington County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Department. And this fall, they're planning the Color Country Chute-Out, a five-day event of flying and competitions open to anyone interested.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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