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Prom? Two Staples girls' invitations reach new heights

Updated 6:15 am, Friday, May 3, 2013

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  • Rich Ruggles delivers two Staples High School junior prom invitations with his "powered parachute" aircraft, as students look on at Compo Beach. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News contributed
    Rich Ruggles delivers two Staples High School junior prom invitations with his "powered parachute" aircraft, as students look on at Compo Beach. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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You wouldn't blame two Staples High School students for having "sky-high" expectations for their junior prom.

In fact, their invitations for the May 18 soiree came that way: Out of the wild blue yonder. Literally.

The young ladies -- Elizabeth Camche and Emily Korn, both 16 and best friends since elementary school -- got the special-delivery prom invitations while gathered with friends at Compo Beach last Saturday, April 27.

The invitations for Camche and Korn from Roscoe Brown and Khaliq Sanda, respectively, fell from the sky courtesy of Rich Ruggles, who piloted his "powered parachute" aircraft over the beach to make the delivery.

"I was very surprised and I was very excited," said Camche, who happily accepted the invitation from 16-year-old Sanda. She had initially planned a trip to New York on Saturday, but the plan was canceled and instead she joined friends for an impromptu barbecue on the west side of the beach.

"We were just eating and hanging out, and the parachute started flying around," she said. "I knew before that he was going to ask me, but I didn't know how."

Korn was similarly astonished by the invitation from Brown, 17.

"I didn't think Roscoe and Khaliq were going to do something that extravagant," she said.

"Roscoe and I are both a part of this program called Peer Advisors," Sanda said, overseen at Staples by advisor Michael Newman. "We were running ideas by him and just trying to come up with a unique way of asking."

Newman got the boys in touch with his friend Ruggles, who lives in Redding and recreationally flies the powered parachute, which resembles a hang glider.

"I had a blast," said Ruggles, who took off from and landed at Wakeman Field. "To see those kids, to see their faces ..."

A licensed helicopter pilot and crane operator, it was the first time Ruggles had ever dropped a scrolled invitation from his parachute. But thanks to radio guidance from his ground mechanic, Rich "Pappy" Pappenfuss, he was able to pull it off.

"I did it for free," Ruggles said, but now others have started contacting him to inquire about making similar drops.

"I'd love to make it a business," he said.

Because of brisk winds Saturday, however, Ruggles said it was the hardest flight he'd ever attempted. Ordinarily, he wouldn't have taken off in those conditions, but didn't want to disappoint the students or his friend, Newman.

"We met with him a few times and he was nice enough to do it," Brown said. "He flew over ... a few times around and then dropped sort of two parachutes (attached to the invitations), one of out of each side."

Despite the flair of their invites, Sanda expects the junior prom will probably be more sedate.

"We don't have any crazy ideas right now," he said. "Our group, we're either going to rent a limo or we might just drive. We haven't decided yet."

"In school everyone knows who they are," Camche said of Sanda and Brown. "Everyone says `Hi' to them in the hallways. They're just very friendly guys, so it wasn't unexpected for them to do something crazy like this."

A video of the prom invitation delivery has been posted on YouTube: http://bit.ly/13OYcug