SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS – Patrick Tarmey calls his airborne toy a “powered paraglider.” But on September 11th of this year, some people in Salem thought his quirky-looking glider may have posed some kind of threat.
“I was flying it over the harbor just practicing doing some 360s and some spins,” Tarmey said.
Tarmey owns a business called Paramotor Tours. But while he was flying Tuesday, the phones at the Salem police department lit up.
“Are you aware of the guy that’s in this, like, gyrocopter that’s flying over the Bridge Street bypass, and stopping traffic basically?” asked one caller.
Another caller said someone was “circling the depot right now in a seat with a motor on it.”
Tarmey says those callers were witnessing an optical illusion.
“The perception of that can seem like I’m over the neighborhood if you’re sitting on one side of the harbor. If you’re on the other side of the harbor, it may look like I’m over the city of Salem,” he said.
He says one of the Salem police officers who came to question him did not want to hear that.
The officer arrested Tarmey and charged him with disorderly conduct. A judge dropped the charge, but Tarmey was still on the hook for $50 in court costs.
Tarmey says next time, if he wants to fly on 9/11, he’ll stay far away from any city. “I don’t want anybody to feel like I’m putting them in jeopardy,” he says.