Paraglider pilot plummets to death near Squak Mountain

August 9, 2011

A paraglider pilot plunged to his death Aug. 7 as he attempted to land in a pasture near Issaquah.

Renton resident Kenneth Blanchard, 53, completed hundreds of paraglider flights before the deadly accident.

Seattle Paragliding owner Marc Chirico said Blanchard launched from Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain a couple of hours earlier and planned to land near his home on a “postage stamp of a landing field” in a pasture.

Chirico said Blanchard completed about 300 flights before the accident.

The accident occurred at about 7 p.m. in the 12300 block of 202nd Place Southeast, near the intended landing site. Blanchard plummeted to the ground in the High Valley area southwest of Squak Mountain State Park, about three miles from the usual paraglider landing site along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast.

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Step off of Tiger Mountain at 1,800 feet and take flight — with a paraglider

July 2, 2011

Seattle Paragliding tandem instructor Matt Amend and owner Marc Chirico help a paraglider pilot launch from Poo Poo Point. By Caleb Heeringa

You know that dream where you’re flying — where you’re able to look down on the hustle and bustle of the earth from thousands of feet above and the problems that normally seem so big are now as small and insignificant as ants?

The dream is real for the paraglider pilots who launch off the west side of Tiger Mountain every day that it’s not raining buckets. For more than 20 years, Marc Chirico has been throwing people off the side of the mountain — with paraglider and emergency parachute attached, of course.

It’s a career that started as a hobby that started with a dream that many of us have had — to drift above it all.

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Off the Press

March 1, 2011

Issaquah attractions are worthy of bucket list

I’ve worked here at The Issaquah Press for over a decade now, covering different aspects of one of the state’s fastest growing towns.

David Hayes Press Reporter

I’ve patrolled the schools beat, sat in on City Council meetings when the city reporter was out of town, and roamed the sidelines at sporting events when Bob Taylor, our sports editor, couldn’t be everywhere at once.

Seeing so many sides of Issaquah, it has really grown on me over the years. How could it not, with so much to do and see, and with such interesting people waiting to tell their tale?

And that’s the problem. As I move further into my second decade covering Issaquah, I’ve realized there is still so much I haven’t done.

As “bucket lists” — where you make up a list of things to do before you die — have become all the rage, consider this my list of righting all the missed opportunities I’ve incurred since living and working in Issaquah.

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Rescuers pluck crashed paraglider from trees

July 21, 2009


A Whidbey Island Naval Air Station helicopter retrieves a rescuer from Tiger Mountain after airlifting a crashed paraglider June 14. By Greg Farrar

A Whidbey Island Naval Air Station helicopter retrieves a rescuer from Tiger Mountain after airlifting a crashed paraglider June 14. By Greg Farrar

A paraglider pilot crashed into trees on Tiger Mountain Tuesday afternoon, ending his otherwise uneventful flight with broken ribs. Crews freed the trapped pilot from trees during a dramatic rescue as afternoon turned to evening.

Authorities identified the pilot as 47-year-old Spanaway resident Gene Beaver.

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Rescuers pluck paraglider pilot from trees after Tiger Mountain crash

July 14, 2009

UPDATED — 11:45 a.m. July 16, 2009

A paraglider pilot crashed into trees on Tiger Mountain Tuesday afternoon, ending his otherwise uneventful flight with broken ribs. Crews freed the trapped pilot from trees during a dramatic rescue as afternoon turned to evening.

Authorities identified the pilot as 47-year-old Spanaway resident Gene Beaver.*

A Navy Blackhawk helicopter based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island plucked the pilot from the woods while local crews worked on the ground.

Eastside Fire & Rescue Firefighter Ryan Hendricks said the Navy helicopter crew loaded the injured paraglider pilot into a basket to lift him from Tiger Mountain. EFR crews and King County Search and Rescue, a volunteer group, coordinated the rescue on the ground as the Navy chopper and news helicopters whirred overhead.

A Navy helicopter from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station retrieves a Navy corpsman from Tiger Mountain after they had airlifted out a paraglider that landed in the treetops June 14 and suffered broken ribs. — Photo by Greg Farrar

A Navy helicopter from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island retrieves a Navy corpsman from Tiger Mountain after the crew airlifted a paraglider that crashed into treetops July 14 and suffered broken ribs. — Photo by Greg Farrar

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County restricts parking along Issaquah-Hobart Road

March 17, 2009

King County officials will limit parking along a stretch of Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast to address concerns related to congestion along the two-lane roadway. The road hugs the base of Tiger Mountain near areas popular with hikers and paraglider pilots.

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