Learning this sport can be frustrating - it’s weather dependant - in particular, the wind and so you can’t really guarantee a training day more than 1 day away. If it’s too windy then you can’t do it. Simple. To help, here’s an app that i highly recommend (as recommended to me by my instructor Simon) - it gives wind and gust speeds. I’m sure it does more as i learn more. But it give you an idea if flying is going to happen. Even with these potential delays due to weather, it still beats flying a fixed wing simply down to the fact that it takes less ‘hours’ and more demonstrable competence. So if you’re keen you can be in the air flying solo within 3-4 days! (weather dependance of course).
Getting there: The airfield was just behind the Membury services on the M4. Easy enough to get to. Lower profile wheels/cars should be warned, the driveway is a little rough.
Food & Drink: Their is a Starbucks literally 10 meters away! and another 10 meters are WHSmiths, Macdonalds etc… so food and drink is easy to get. However, i think i’ll bring a gas cooker and kettle next time - much cheaper than motorway service prices!
Getting started: So after arriving, there was a meet and greet, coffee (very important), a short briefing and the issuing of the Trainee Pilot’s Guide workbook (TPG). The TPG contains info, further reading and more importantly, explanations and instructor sign-off for each stage/learning outcome. It looks pretty good… gives me an idea on what stages i’ll be going through in my training. Today was about Ground Handling.
The most difficult part of Paramotoring is getting off the ground (as told by the instructors). So a good understanding and ‘feel’ of the wing is essential. So today was about getting used to handling the wing, getting it in the air and keeping it stable. Things i learnt:
- Laying out the wing on the ground in the optimal position for a good launch
- Controls - brakes and Risers with left and right controls
- How to ‘balance’ the wing - Simons analogy was to think of it as an up-side-down pyramid that you are balancing on your finger - if it starts to lean to the right, you need move yourself to the right beneath it. This is done with the left and right controls of the brakes and your feet.
- Using the wind - the wing flipped a few times, but rather than physically unflipping it, i could use the lightest of winds to get it to right itself.
- Wing control in 3 stages - today was just stage 1: getting used to the wing and getting up in the air while wearing a harness.
- Make love to the wing - don’t just f*ck it - Haha. this had to be the quote of the day - and it worked!!! If you pull hard, tug left and right aggressively then the wing responds aggressively (usually to the floor), but if you use the wind, and lightly touch the direction you want to go, it’ll work better (and stays up - no pun intended). This took most of the day to get the hang of due to it being a ‘feeling’ rather than a step-by-step technique.
- Managing the cables - so they don’t tangle etc
- Picking up the wing safely so the wind doesn’t catch it and pull you away
- Packing the wing away
So overall, a really fun day - a great experience.
I’ll blog each of my training days, so others can share in the experience, but also, if you are also interested in learning this sport - do it! It’s a lot cheaper than you think… and way more fun!!!
Now, I just gotta wait for a combination of free time and good weather for the next lesson!
I'll leave you with my quote of the day:
Make love to the wing, don’t just f*ck it.