Two fly guys paragliding across Central Illinois skies

Local News

BENSON, Ill. (WMBD) — Two Central Illinoisans are flying over the area in an unconventional way.

You may have looked up one night and seen some ‘unidentified flying objects’ over your homes. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope! It’s two fly guys paragliding across Central Illinois skies.

Many people have taken to social media asking ‘What are these things flying over our town?’

It’s Steve Jauch and Mark Aeschleman enjoying a different view of nature, a view that might be a few hundred or even thousands of feet up in the air.

“What’s your favorite part about paragliding?” WMBD’s Matt Sheehan asked. “Landing and still having all my parts” chuckled Steve Jauch.

75-year-old Jauch retired from CAT years ago and is now staying young as ever by flying in his customized paraglider.

“Yeah, it’s just a flying lawnmower really,” Jauch laughed.

Steven and his friend Mark Aeschleman often start their flights in Metamora or Benson.

“I followed him around like a little lost puppy asking him questions and stuff, he kind of gave me the load down and that was it. I was hooked,” Aeschleman laughed.

In their four-stroke engine paragliders, they fly over towns like Washburn, Roanoke, Eureka, and Washburn. Jauch said the parachute-looking object is called a ‘wing’ and is not actually called a parachute. Each paraglider has three wooden propellers on them surrounded by a cage.

“Every night I’m looking out the window, seeing what the wind’s doing. Looking at the weather. My wife’s saying, ‘well, you going up tonight?’ I don’t know if she’s trying to get rid of me or what,” Jauch laughed.

Steve and Mark said the weather is the biggest factor when deciding when to fly.

“You never know, you could have a day that’s cloudy, conditions should be great, you get up there and it’s trash,” Aeschleman said.

Steve said he’s only flown in an actual airplane twice.

“You feel safer in this than you would in a commercial plane?” Sheehan asked. “Ridiculously enough, I do. I know it’s a lot more dangerous with this than a regular plane, but I feel like I have control,” Jauch said.

Steve said they used to have a group of five people who would fly together. Now, it’s just him and Mark.

“Think they all quit. They’re a little smarter than we are,” Jauch said smiling.

Steve and Mark flew around 300 feet in the air around rural Benson on Tuesday night.

One time, Steve said he flew over one mile high in the sky. He said he knew it was time to turn around and go home when he saw an airplane and helicopter flying underneath him.

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