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Off roaders staying safe thanks to new Air Unit at Red Sands

Riders at Red Sands now have someone looking out for them up in the sky.

Riders at Red Sands now have someone looking out for them up in the sky.

Far East El Paso resident Mitchell Graham is putting his one-of-a-kind hobby to good use.

Graham owns and flies a paramotor, a type of powered paraglider.

He wears a harness with a motor on the back which allows him to take off from level ground with no wind.

Graham is working with the Texas Rescue Patrol, a nonprofit that provides emergency and medical response for riders at Red Sands.

“These guys can’t always find people immediately. They don't always know where they are, and if they're behind a dune they can’t be seen from the dune, but I can see them from the air,” he said.

It all started while he was flying the paramotor for fun in the Red Sands area last month.

He said that's when he realized what a great tool it could be for the rescue patrol.

“They don't do it for the money; they do it because they want to help people. So I thought that was really awesome and I figured I could help out with search and rescue every now and then,” he said.

In that time, he's already helped save a few lives.

“I was the first one that saw it as far as volunteers go. And after I saw the accident, I flew over there and got their attention, and then I flew back to the accident and they followed me so they could know where it was,” Graham said.

Paramotors aren't too common. Graham says he only knows about six others that do it in the Borderland.

Getting equipment is no easy task -- it can be pricey and most of it has to be shipped from overseas.

So Graham says being able to bring this asset to Red Sands is a good feeling.

“I hope to just help as many people as I can,” he said.

The Texas Rescue Patrol is working with Graham to keep him safe too.

They're installing a weather monitoring station this month to keep track of conditions.

They're also calling any others with personal aircraft or drones to volunteer as well.

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