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bingreed

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About bingreed

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  1. Marvellous, let's hope the weather is as kind this year as last. I'll be there please
  2. I am, instinctively, a bit of a cynic and, distressingly, rather a lazy one at that. When I look back at my largely irrelevant life, or “my journey” as Dermot O’Leary might prefer, the memories - like school reports - are usually tinged with regret; I could have achieved so much more, I could have been so much more, if only I’d tried. If only… if only I’d recognised the opportunities when they were available, if only I’d applied myself, if only I’d focussed… if only. This came into focus when, not so long ago, a good friend died as the result of a tragic accident, and after the shock and the tears came the memorial service, and the realisation that he had achieved so much in his life. After the service, and in drink, the inevitable subject was discussed: “What would they say about me…?” Much navel-gazing and an uncomfortable shuffling of shoes commenced… it’s hardly a cheering thought but it does make tangible the value of our earthly pursuits. Of course, thankfully we live in a free and prosperous country, and we are all blessed with choice – even if sometimes we don’t realise it. Some chose to piss it all up a wall every weekend, others chose to invest in a secure pension in the hope of a long retirement; there are no rights or wrongs, just choices and decisions. We are all masters of our own destiny; some of us see mountains as obstacles and are defeated, others a challenge and start climbing. And some of us, the lucky few, chose to conquer those peaks in that most pure of pursuits: we simply fly over them The thing is, mountaineers don’t stop climbing when they’ve reached the top; instead they scour the horizon in search of another, taller, mountain. They kick-on and push themselves in pursuit of some ultimate achievement, resetting the benchmark time and again. Similarly we lucky few are rarely content simply with breaking the bounds of earth, nor defying gravity, nor even the change of perspective our perfect pursuit provides. After a while, after the learning curve flattens a little, we start to seek new flying challenges; over new territory, or further, or higher or (perversely) lower that before. We, too, kick-on and push ourselves. Which is how I found myself flying a mile over my house the other day: I must admit the reasons for tackling this particular goal are, in part, rather show-offy. Like me, I guess you are regularly engaged in conversation about your hobby, and like me oft asked “How high can you fly?” followed by much talk around air law and 10,000’ ceilings (and, more recently, drones…), then in disbelief “Yeah right, but how high have you flown?” to which I’ve always wanted to nonchalantly reply “Oh, over a mile…” (cue instant adoration, a shower of petals and unconditional offers of sexual intimacy…) Or, put simply, I knew it would be nice to say I’ve done it. These thoughts and more swirled through my mind as I stood with a gently warmed engine on my back, A’s in hand and perfect conditions above. This flight (number 32 in total, and the third on my Moster) could be the opportunity to reach my goal; this time I am recognising the opportunity, I am applying myself, I am focussed……… not a what if in sight! Annoyingly take-off was a less than ideal stop-start affair as, in the red-mist excitement, something was intermittently engaging the stop button, but forward momentum was maintained and, after briefly damping a surging wing, it all eventually “went tight” and the earth slipped away. “Not the best start” I muttered to myself as I parked the brakes and wriggled into the seat, but no damage done and a timely reminder to get the layout of my throttle hand right. I’ve always struggled a little with throttle/brake handle/A’s conflict when forward launching; I was (correctly) taught to freely guide the A’s through the crook of the thumb, but that’s just where the stop switch and brake line are too, and to also maintain a free-to-reach stop button in case of an abort can be a little cumbersome in the excitement of take-off. Clearly on this occasion something kept engaging the off-switch, but reassuringly I recognised an emerging situation, maintained momentum and avoided the abort. After that – well, apart from keeping an eye on the CHT (it soon peaked at 245 degrees C so I eased it down by dropping to 75% throttle) it was still a steady climb at around 325 ft/min into the wind. Keeping an eye on the altimeter I was suddenly rocked by unexpected turbulence at 5000’ – nothing too drastic but enough to flutter the heart and ease the throttle a little more. But having come this close in such perfect conditions (even my hands were still comfortably warm) I wasn’t stopping now! I turned 180 degrees towards home as the altitude edged closer to… bugger, I couldn’t remember how many feet in a mile! In the excitement of reaching my goal I suffered brain freeze, so decided to climb a further 300’ just to be sure – hence over 5600’ above home! Having captured the altimeter screen on my helmet-cam I squeezed off the power and started the slow decent, lapping up the glorious view stretching from South-East Essex to East Norfolk, all of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire beyond. I was taken-aback by how long it took to return to earth; ok, so I was taking my time rather than spiralling madly, and I didn’t switch the motor off in case I couldn’t start it again, but even so I had climber faster than I drifted back. Periodically I throttled up to make sure nothing got fouled-up. I also remain mindful of how much a Moster at tickover shakes about, so a feathered throttle certainly kept things more comfortable for pilot and engine mounts alike. Just as the sun was setting I made my final approach. The windsock suggested what little breeze there was had completely died out, but having finally switched off and committed to land (perhaps 100’ up) it soon became clear there was now a gentle tailwind: too little, too late! I had already taken a wrap for the final flare but this still didn’t give me the authority I needed, I came in pretty fast and hard. Nothing damaged, nothing bent or broken on either machine or pilot, but hardly a textbook landing… the first on my arse on my new machine As I picked myself up and dusted myself down I vowed to shorten the brake lines a tad before my next flight… … which as it happened was at the PMC Fly-In in Norfolk Fly safe, good people x Bob (newest member of the Mile High Club)
  3. Bugger, missed the engine! And Pete!! Well done again Simon, clearly a lot of time & effort had gone into your fly-in and it paid off in spades. Don't know how you arranged the weather, could hardly have been better; thoroughly enjoyed my flight over foreign parts as a result. Special mention for the Pigs Ear ale and the marvellous beef curry - glad I was in a tent for one... Sent from my iPad using the rather marvellous PMC Forum mobile app
  4. Alex will tell you all you need to know, and will save you from buying inappropriate kit. Sent from my iPad using the rather marvellous PMC Forum mobile app
  5. I get where you're coming from, but using that logic I won't bother replacing my cage the next time I bend it, I'll save some time, money and weight and just be extra careful not to let anything loose or fleshy near the rapidly rotating prop... I might even get away with it too. I suppose we all have different circumstances. Personally I feel very lucky to own a half-decent paramotor and wing; I've worked hard for them and I've forfeited other things to afford them. They are, by a huge margin, the most valuable items I own, and were they to be stolen or accidentally damaged I simply would not be able to replace them. That these transitory items, these material goods, are effectively irreplaceable is one thing, but they also enable me to pursue a hobby that has already taken me beyond what I ever thought possible. They are life-affirming, and they have (quite literally) altered my perspective of life. They make me feel ALIVE. So it comes down to basic risk & reward. My wife and my many, many children are the most valuable "things" in my life, so she drives the safest, most reliable car we can afford and I make do with a cronky old banger, safe in the knowledge that should it break down on a rainy night - well, it's only me I've got to worry about. Similarly I insure my kit because accidents that are nobody's fault still happen, and a relatively modest monthly premium offers fantastic value for money when measured in peace of mind. Fly safe y'all xx Sent from my iPad using the rather marvellous PMC Forum mobile app
  6. I'll second that - see my Training Blog "Bob Bites the Bullet" for details: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=7596 I'm in mid-Suffolk, always happy to chat paramotors... Sent from my iPad using the rather marvellous PMC Forum mobile app
  7. Useful input one and all, thank you for taking the time to respond and apologies if this has gone over old ground... Just had a very useful chat with my insurance agent - it transpires that my Home Insurance (through NFU Mutual) covers me for "all losses" on itemised property, including away from home. I have openly declared and itemised my flying kit (specifically motor and wing) and they are fully aware what it is and what I do. Same for all itemised property on the insurance schedule: camera kit, shotgun, jewellery etc I have asked the specific questions regarding transporting in a trailer - still 100% covered against loss howsoever caused, providing the trailer is locked when I'm away from it. Accidental damage, theft, fire, whatever I did not however muddy the water asking about tow-bar mounted bike carriers, though would be forgiven to assume so long as the kit is locked to the carrier (as I do) it would be equally insured. Tonight I will scrutinise the small print for any "catch-all" aviation clauses, but given how unambiguous I have been in describing what it is and what I do with it I'm pretty happy I'm covered. Suddenly the ridiculous annual premium for insuring with NFU Mutual appears a little more palatable
  8. I have a question... how do you insure your paramotor kit when travelling to/from your take-off site? My comprehensive car insurance is up for renewal, and I notice with interest that while the car is comprehensively insured, any trailer I tow is only third-party insured; in the event of, say, my trailer causing an accident and damaging somebody elses property, any losses incurred by them would be covered but the value of my trailer (and, much more importantly, what's in it) would not be covered. Seeing as my flying kit is worth three times the value of my car it all appears a little disproportionate I guess if someone crashed into me I could claim my total loss (car, trailer, kit, everything) off their insurance - hugely inconvenient, but at least I wouldn't lose out. As far as I can make out trailer insurance just covers the value of the trailer, not the contents. Some home insurance policies cover itemised items away from home - is this the answer??? Or do some flying policies also cover the value of the kit while travelling???? Any help/clarification/advice would be much appreciated... Thank you xx (For good orders sake let's keep this to trailers rather than converted towbar-mounted bike carriers.... a whole different kettle of fish!)
  9. **UPDATE** As promised, the weather last Thursday evening was indeed flyable, and, after a little gentle negotiation on the domestic front, I found myself in a freshly mowed grass field, carefully warming my machine in anticipation of flight number 30. Only flight number thirty just happened to be flight number one on my recently acquired Bailey-framed Moster 185… my first “grown up” machine since starting this fantastical adventure. Alex Anderson had graciously helped with the harness set-up and hang-test but (as usual) I was stood in a field on my own for the inaugural flight itself. What could possibly go wrong…? The breeze, what breeze there was, was mono-directional but varying from 2-8mph; definite forward territory. I laid the trust Revo2 out perfectly, spending extra time on double checking trim settings and unsnagged lines; wanting to remove as many variables as possible should some other more pressing issue raise its head during launch and climb out. After warming the motor for a couple of minutes (CHT gauge said 120 degrees C, anyone suggest a target for pre-launch temperatures???) I gingerly moved into position and cut the motor while clipping in. All good so far, all checks done by the book, all set-up and a quick pull to restart – relying on training, reading from the mental script; it’s so reassuring to have a familiar, even instinctive pre-flight routine in place. In my book there’s no substitute for learning and practice and revision. After a moment readjusting the brake/throttle/A’s in my right hand, a quick blast to clear the engine and get air moving over the wing, two steps back then commit! Guiding the A’s up, striving forwards then a progressive application of power – retaining the option to abort at any stage. Fat chance! I was only on three quarters throttle but within a few steps I was up, up and away – what a pleasant change from the Bailey 175-induced cross countries of old! No sooner had I thought “try to run upright” than I was running in clear air; so that’s what it’s meant to be like! Carefully, consciously keeping the revs under control and hands up, I was climbing faster than ever before; again, what a transformation. I had been a little nervous of stalling my wing – of applying too much power, too much thrust, and getting all squirrelly or twisty or worse. In practice there were no such concerns, just a steady climb with a gentle, and predictable, turn to the right. Soon I was comfortably over 1000’, so eased off and went through a few checks. The brakes were a little longer than I’d like, must remember to take a good wrap before landing. The vibrations aren’t as bad as I’d feared, although there were certainly more resonant frequency noises that I’d anticipated. Nothing to worry about I’m sure, just different to the old four-stroke (no surprise there then…) – a bit whiney, a bit buzzy, nothing obtrusive just *different*. I noted the CHT had risen to 230 degrees after the climb, comfortably under the max 250 degree limit but worth watching. Mooched around getting used to the weight-steering (noticeably more effective when compared to the previous fixed hang points) and the throttle response, which I’ve decided is BLOODY BRILLIANT!!! Ended the flight with some very low passes over cropped fields – have never had the confidence before, but with plenty of power on tap should something go awry I was edging closer and closer to foot-dragging the crop. Really started feeling the relationship between brakes and throttle, can’t wait to explore this further. After thirty minutes or so I landed safely enough, though felt I didn’t have quite the flare authority I’m used to. Again, a small adjustment to brake lines will help in this regard, there’s plenty to play with. And I'll get the dirt out of my knees easily enough.... So flight thirty was, thankfully, a success. The new machine has exceeded my expectations and will, I’ve no doubt, improve my flying. Now all I need to do is save up for the fuel and oil……….. thirsty work this Moster flying! Fly Safe x
  10. Good grief it’s over a year since I last posted on here; time for a quick catch-up… I have been blessed with a further 10 flights since my XC to work last April, all of which were from home territory and all of which were on my own. Yes I would have preferred more flying time, but there is so often some other priority when the weather gods finally shine their light upon us… as for flying on my own, I have nobody to blame but myself The most newsworthy event of the past twelve months was my first engine-out, caused by the plug cap coming off in flight due to what turns out was a broken spring. I was flying around 600’ AGL and made a safe, unspectacular landing in a crop of spring barley. Fortunately, being a bumpkin on home territory I knew the landowner and could make a pre-emptive phonecall within minutes of landing in his crop. End result: no damage done to either kit or reputation, and an easy retrieve without having to involve other people A quick order from Bailey, 15 minutes with the tool kit and a new coil, HT lead and plug cap safely installed: problem solved once and for all, and more experience grist to the mill. I also started playing with a homemade chase-cam, trying primarily to capture the essence of flying a paramotor as well as the pretty scenery; I find it hard to answer the oft-asked question “So what’s it like then?”, and wanted to give a flavour of our glorious sport to friends and family. By good planning (or good fortune) I guesstimated the angle of dangle about right, ensuring both pilot and horizon remained in the footage – both necessary points of reference in my book. The resultant film is hardly breaking the bounds of modern cinema, but I’m pretty proud of the result, if not the outcome: [youtubevideo] [/youtubevideo]It’s interesting to note how much the chase-cam moves around in relation to air-speed; upon final approach after the engine-out I was aiming for the non-cropped strips where a mole drainer had been working, but at the last moment decided to steer a little right away from any oak tree-related turbulence. At the slower speed of final approach this last moment adjustment causes the camera to swing wildly – thankfully it looks rather more dramatic than it actually was! At the last time of writing I had developed one or two launching issues, so in early summer 2014 a quick visit to Alex Anderson of Footflight Paramotors was scheduled. He invited me down to his field on Mersea Island (incidentally the same field this years Open Paramotor Championship will be held at the end of May) for a refresher lesson. Over time my launch technique had become rather rusty; I was more and more focussed on flying, and consequently concentrating less and less on handling the wing. I was mistakenly attempting to overcome the shortfalls in my wing handling technique with the application of power, with every resultant failed launch making me more determined to be bolder next time, to apply more power sooner, to force the wing up…… Back to basics Bingley: Alex immediately and correctly identified the problem, and patiently reminded me of my training. Of course, I knew what I should be doing – I had only to re-read the putterings in this very blog to see the error of my ways – but it’s surprising how thoughts, words and deeds can be effected by emotions like frustration, anger, embarrassment and shame…. By the by. Importantly I was back on the right track – and the proof of the pudding is in the eating; with zero failed launches since that refresher lesson (six flights, six successful launch attempts) I can safely encourage all relative newbies to stay in touch with your instructor, you never know when you might need them! More recently a casual, late-night browse on eBay revealed a potential replacement for my trusty Bailey 175. I have known for as long as I’ve owned it that although it’s a perfectly solid and reliable machine, it’s not perfectly suited to my size and weight. I have also known that learning to fly on a relatively steady, relatively strong, relatively heavy machine would give me a sound foundation upon which to build as my knowledge and experience grow. But long take-off runs with low thrust, heavy kit take effort, especially for a larger chap like me, and slow climb-out rates can become a little tedious after a while. In flight my poor 175 doesn’t so much climb as gradually gain altitude, and I’ve never had the confidence to fly low as I’ve never felt I’ve had suitable power to climb out of potentially dangerous situations should they occur. I have begrudgingly accepted for some time that more thrust and less weight would transform my flying – but with new machines prohibitively unaffordable what can a chap do??? I love Bailey engineering but the natural progression to V5 is sadly unaffordable, even second-hand. The eBay machine that caught my eye was a Bailey-framed Moster 185, located in Braintree and owned by a fellow graduate of Alex Anderson. It was his first “proper” machine, bought new in 2012 from Alex and in excellent used condition. A chat with the owner and with Alex confirmed it would be totally suitable – and the asking price was very reasonable and included a spare prop plus associated spare parts, oil, helmet, even a couple of DVD’s. Well, it’d be rude not to wouldn’t it? One week later the trusty 175, my first machine, the machine I learnt to fly on, the machine that changed my life, was being handed over to its new owner and with a genuine tear in my eye I turned my back on life with a four-stroke. Compare and contrast: out with the old, in with the new (to me). Note no chickens were harmed in the taking of this photograph... Earlier this week I spent a most enjoyable evening with Alex adjusting the harness, completing a hang-check and installing my reserve. When the next weather window opens (Thursday looks promising…) I plan to play; hopefully the successful first flight report will appear here shortly…. Fly safe good people x
  11. It ain't the most exciting, but this one means the most to me
  12. Also you could contact Alex Anderson of Foot Flight Paramotors. Highly recommended. He trains at Rayne near Braintree and on Mersea Island where this years British Paramotor Open competition will be held at the end of May Sent from my iPad using the rather marvellous PMC Forum mobile app
  13. Afternoon all, I shall be in North Norfolk next week, and have permission to take my flying kit Can anyone recommend somewhere to fly from? Would prefer somewhere near Hunstanton, though anywhere from Dersingham to Wells-next-the-Sea would suffice... Be nice to fly new territory for a change, any advice (or offers of a flying buddy) would be much appreciated. Thanks, Bob x
  14. Hi Patrick, after a couple of months without flying I found my forward launch technique had gone completely rusty - either the wing wasn't coming up square or I couldn't get the power-on timing right. What was once a fluid transition became a series of unrelated actions, I felt uncoordinated and tired and cross and started to question whether it was all worthwhile. I couldn't get Jeremy Clarksons voice out of my head: "POWERRRRRRR!!!" A visit to see my instructor gave me the impetus I needed (and told me what I knew all along...): back to basics boy... I was advised to take the motor off and get back into the ground handling groove. Fly the wing, relearn how long to stay on the A's, feeeeeel what it's doing, a perfect symmetrical setup then stay central and keep moving. Once this was re-established and confidence was building, reintroduced the motor. After a couple of sweaty forward inflations with the motor off I started her up and rediscovered the power transition timing and the importance of standing upright against the thrust. I soon progressed to the "moonwalk", all but flying at ground level, all the time building layers of confidence while always maintaining the option to abort if things went pear shaped. For me personally I have learnt the importance of avoiding the "I WILL fly this time" mindset. That is the ultimate goal every time I strap in, of course, but my focus is on handling the wing on the ground and the progressive application of power to the point where flight is safely achievable. So as I'm standing, motor running, A's hooked around my thumbs, I know the wing is setup correctly and straight into any breeze. My focus is "stay on the A's" as I commit to launch. I feel the wing rising above my head, I look up to see it is straight & true, then squeeze on the power, building to full power progressively but without delay. Focussing on a spot on the horizon, keep moving forwards letting the motor and increasingly the wing do all the hard work. At take-off velocity I may chose to dab the brakes or I may just let the earth glide away from under my feet...... God knows it ain't easy and I still prefer a reverse launch through choice, but by getting back to basics I'm now back in the groove. Sent from my iPad using the rather marvellous PMC Forum mobile app
  15. Simon, thank you very much - were we a little closer I would have no hesitation in taking you up on your kind offer. As it is Patrick has very generously pointed me in the right direction, with 24/7 telephone support to boot! Gentlemen, you are superstars, and I look forward to the day when our paths cross (as no doubt they will) to thank you both in person through the time-honoured medium of beer. Sent from my iPad using the rather marvellous PMC Forum mobile app
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