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Mark Pugh

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Mark Pugh last won the day on April 5

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About Mark Pugh

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  1. Now it's early June 2019, just like to add to my own experiences. Since taking my rating, buying my second hand kit and gaining experience with the local Worcester Group; I'm now more likely to fly locally in Warwickshire. It did take a long time to find suitable fields. My three local grass strips were totally against it, I sent letters to the committees, saw them in person; but they mostly claimed they already had noise pollution problems and did not want another form of aviation there, especially one that was more likely to fly in the evenings when people were relaxing at home. I knew a lot of local farmers (20 years of metal detecting their fields and sharing finds, bottles at Xmas, etc.) but it's surprising how many fields are too small, have huge hedges and trees, or power lines in just the wrong places! Finally I managed to get a couple of great fields in different locations. The big help was having my motor on display to show them (on back of my car), taking photographs along of me flying (they look silent!), promising photos from the air of their fields, farmhouses, etc; but biggest single decision help was saying "Instead of buying you a nice bottle for Xmas, how about I donate £5 each day I fly from your field". Don't arrange to actually pay for the flight, this could involve insurance, paperwork, hassle. Just make a donation towards cost of parking car, cutting grass etc. This has encouraged farmers to say yes, and let's face it, I used to spend more than £5 in fuel to get to launch sites! The two fields I now have, are so large I can take off in any direction. This has greatly increased my chances to fly. Even though I worked through May, I had 5 evening flights, that's more than 1 a week!!! It's still taking forever to build my PPG hours, I have 400 paragliding and only 24 PPG. But that was in my first full year and with my local fields and more confidence, I'm sure I will get more of those flights in this year. Just remember, the first time people see a paramotor, they are interested and point and wave. The third time you go over their garden, they find you noisy and obnoxious. So take off, get high and vary your route. If you do find yourself going over the same point frequently, take a few A4 photos around and give them to the owner. They are more likely to continue waving at you ! In reality, once airborne we are supposed to cruise at 500 feet and 1000 feet over towns and villages. At that height we are much quieter, get a better view and are high enough to throw a few wing overs, spiral dive and if the worst happens, throw the reserve!!!!
  2. Mark Pugh

    Airband Radio in UK

    Well I've now had my airband license for a while. Has it been useful? I can talk to the other paramotor pilot in my club legally from the air, I frequently inform my local grass strip that I'm flying "Snitterfield Traffic, Paramotor 1, operating from Wootton Wawen to Studley at no more than 1000 feet". If they are at the airport, I get a response that they will let other pilots know I'm in the air. Do they pilots then come and look at me, probably, I get them coming past with a wave but at least they've seen me! I'm still waiting to see a balloonist in the air while I'm flying, then I can use their frequency and request to fly closer. Not happened yet, but I'm hopeful. Amplitude Modulation does seem "lower" tech. compared with FM; background interference when talking even when the squelch is set properly. Older technology really. But it does seem to work better nearer the engine; with 2m or 70cm I did have to go to tick-over to use the radio at all, maybe that is just having a well designed Yaesu, rather than a cheap Chinese radio. Better filtering, maybe. Biggest negative is the expense, we can spend thousands on wings and motor, but object to the licensing cost and radio cost of airband. It would def. be much better if more PPG converted...but the cost would put most off. I now know of 4 PPG pilots that have upgraded to airband radio.
  3. Mark Pugh

    Airband Radio in UK

    Whilst paragliding in approx. 1996 I always used a trailing antenna, just to get the 5W furthest from my body! But not such a great idea with a prop. strapped to your back! As for minimal range.... It's virtually line of site! People have bounced signals off the moon to get around the curvature of the earth. Many of my Ham friends received QSL cards (confirmation of radio contact) from the old Russian space station and even from the ISS. The range on VHF and UHF can be huge and in the air our signal will be picked up from miles away. I have over 50 QSL cards from Australia when the 11 year cycle is in force!!! Bouncing the signal off the ionosphere.
  4. Mark Pugh

    Airband Radio in UK

    Never seen any figures for this, but I've had my G7TVF license (Class B) since about 1982 and my G0WKT license (Class A) for well over 25 years and using the amateur bands in the air would definitely upset the amateur radio enthusiasts who will happily self police it. Being outside these bands by 30kc is the only frequencies I've ever seen paragliders and hang gliders use and never known anyone ever be overheard or prosecuted. I believe the 143.970 MHz channel is actually even legal in Europe for free flight teaching and competitions. I would not go far beyond these frequencies due to other people using them and the antenna not being tuned for this. There is one Airband frequency that is legally used air-to-air for hang gliders, paragliders and PPG, that is 122.475 MHz AM. Now I have my RTFL and so does another club member, I will report back how useful I find airband. I do not think the cheap Chinese BAOFENG radios even have type approval for use in the UK, never mind amateur radio use outside the frequency bands. Due to the filtering and the wide frequency availability. China does not have to follow our licensing rules and it's a grey area when we import them ourselves! My first ICOM 144 MHz (2m Band) was bought in about 1994 and I had to de-restrict certain features to use outside the amateur bands for paragliding use. So even the official expensive radios could be opened up for "illegal" use even then; Baofeng have just made it easier!!!
  5. Mark Pugh

    Airband Radio in UK

    After using Amateur bands UHF and VHF on FM (G0WKT full license), Airband on AM, original CB on 27MHz AM (circa 1979) and legal CB on 27MHz FM; I am surprised how poor the AM signal is. FM is much better reacting to squelch and just sounds more quality! The major problem for free flight use is the cheap Chinese Baofeng radios that only cost £30, are very poorly filtered with spurious emissions all over the resonant frequencies. You pay extra for ICOM, YAESU, KENWOOD, etc, because the electronics is just so much better and the frequency that is displayed is the only frequency you transmit and receive on. What I would like to say is if you use these radios, I would highly recommend that you use a frequency just outside the amateur band. Because the antenna are designed for the bands and although the equipment can be opened up to transmit on many more frequencies, the length of the antenna makes it less and less efficient and likely to blow internal components. So use just outside 144 - 146 MHz on the VHF band (ie 143.970) or 430 - 440 MHz on the UHF band (ie 429.995). Also be aware that this is true in the UK, in USA the bands are 144-148 and 420 - 450 (I believe!). I go to fields and cringe when I hear the days frequency is 139.000 MHz.... My personal belief is it's better to have a radio and be able to chat with others in the sport, than rely on your mobile phone after landing.
  6. This is me flying over the farm I launched from on 20th March 2019. There were small clouds at an initial cloud base at 2600 feet, once above them, it was silky smooth in the sky. 60 Best Haselor_Trim.mp4
  7. Mark Pugh

    Was I right or wrong

    I'm confident you can't just fly from common land; otherwise we'd have lots of other motor sports all over it, green laning with 4x4's and motorbikes. I think you'll find all motor sports are restricted. In Redditch I see people launching from parks; they get away with it by taking off quickly and flying away. The actual air law says you must fly at over 500 feet above ground, unless you have the owners permission, i.e. coming into land and taking-off. In an actual emergency (engine failure) you can land most places but are meant to find the owner and apologise, making good any damage to crops (with payment). If they have sensitive animals (race horses, highly strung thoroughbred horses, emu's and ostriched, even deer) officially the land owner is meant to have a message that can be read from the air. In Australia this was done with old tyres painted white, spelling out " No Landings Here". Then over people, villages and towns you must fly at 1000 feet above the highest structure and high enough to glide away; so over a huge town, 1000 feet wouldn't be high enough. We are noisy, in the air our noise pollution travels a lot further. Take off and fly away, no-one minds you flying over them at 500 feet once, it can be interesting, but the third time it's just annoying. It's only 9 year old boys that look up and say "WOW" I want to do that!!! Anyone add to this?
  8. Mark Pugh

    Parajet Parts Delivery Terrible.

    Bl**dy UPS, there fault, not Parajet. When they came to deliver on Friday, part of the packaging was open; so instead of delivering and checking it was OK, they took it back to the depot where it was "officially" sealed with tape. Apparently drivers aren't allowed to do as it voids there insurance!!! So then it had to be re-delivered back to me a few days later. Parcel was really well wrapped, huge box and lots of air bubble wrap to protect the two outer rings for my Zenith. I had flown with my repaired outer rings, but only by doing a reverse launch, so not to put pressure on the hoop. Just happened when the weather was great for flying. I would have driven down to collect knowing how long it took!!!
  9. After raving about how good I've found my Parajet Zenith Polini Thor 130, I have now found it's pitfall. On Monday I managed to get my propeller to just hit the side of the cage. I had to replace one spar, luckily I had a spare, I managed to repair the netting with an old bootlace, and two outer rings were slightly damaged, so I ordered new ones and repaired them for "careful" flying. I sent the prop off to James Davies and put my old spare on. I rang Parajet on Tuesday morning, yes they had two outer rings in my colour in stock. I ordered them and paid by Bank Transfer. Received an email saying they had been posted and I should have them on Thursday at the latest. ALL GOOD. It's now Sunday and they still have not arrived. I have not missed the post, I've either been in, or if walking the dogs, my wife has been at home. I paid extra for delivery, why would they take so long and why would a salesman tell me they had been posted, when they obviously had not. First bad experience with Parajet, but others in my club told me what they were like and not to expect them for a week. Luckily, I have managed to fly. But with damage to the outer rings, I could only do this by reverse launching so no pressure was on the ring with tight lines. If I had known they would take a week, I would have driven to the company and collected them. Anyone else had to wait a while?
  10. Mark Pugh

    29th March 2019

    One thing I learnt on this flight, it's no good tucking your new airband radio down your fleece front. I saw a helicopter hovering over Bidford and thought I'd give it a shout to make sure it had seen me. I was on the air-to-air frequency and he didn't respond, so I got the radio out from under my clothing, unlocked the keypad, changed to the helicopter air-to-air channel.... and he was already flying off towards Evesham. So I have now moved my flight deck around and added Velcro to the back of my radio. It will now always be there right in front of me. Now, where should I keep my old UHF???
  11. Mark Pugh

    29th March 2019

    WOW, has summer really arrived early? Three flights in one week! I had a 50 minute flight on Friday, 29th March, launching at 16:25. Great little "bimble" at between 600 and 1300 feet. Great Alne, Aston Cantlow, Wilmcote, Billesley, Temple Grafton, Bidford-on-Avon, Broom, Ragley Hall, Alcester and back to Great Alne. Where are the other local PPG pilots???
  12. Mark Pugh

    30.jpg

    Used a double selfie stick for this photo (screen grab from video clip).
  13. Mark Pugh

    Mark Pugh

    Sunday 6th January 2019, my first totally solo flight, WARWICKSHIRE, UK. I have flown for the last year with the Worcester Paramotor Flyers, but it is a one hour drive from my home to a launch field. They initially, helped double check everything before each flight, but slowly left me to my own at launch. The last two flights were actually on my own in the air, but other pilots in the field. Last Sunday I went to a local field where the tenant farmer and actual owner had given me permission to fly, as long as I ring them before going there. Just loading up my car, I felt sick with nerves, but once I'd driven onto the field, I was fine. Set up windsock, warmed up engine, laid out wing... clipped in for a reverse launch. The REVO 2 came up first time perfectly, followed the risers to turn around and noticed the left brake was now twisted around the riser, sorted this out whilst walking forward, powered up, took about 5 steps and I was away. It was so great to fly around areas I knew (from the ground) well; everything seems so closer together in the air. I kept between 1500 feet and 600 feet AGL and flew around lots of local villages and towns, even my own house. Been wanting to do that for years!!! Eventually, it was getting darker, so landed back in the launch field next to my car. What a confidence boost. Flying is epic, even when you don't need to do acrobatics, no wing overs, no spiral dives, no foot drags, but still loved every second of the flight and took lots of stills from my gopro (copy) video after landing.
  14. A bit bumpy lower down at 3pm today, but above the lower cloud base (2100 feet) it was silky smooth in Warwickshire. 30_Trim.mp4
  15. Mark Pugh

    Airband Radio in UK

    YEH, just passed my "Flight Radio Telephony Operator's Licence" today. Spent the day with another PPG pilot, a gyrocopter pilot and an ultralight pilot. It was like a private lesson just the four of us with Andy Moon from www.planespeak.com. A couple of weeks ago he sent us the initial paperwork to read through; this was quite scary and there is no way I can truthfully say it made much sense to me. I learnt a lot from it, but it also slightly worried me, just how much there was to learn. But Andy made this specific group up with us four, and could tailor the day to our type of flying. At lunch time we took the written test, it's only 12 multiple choice questions. Then in the afternoon we started work on the planning of a flight, this flight took us through MATZ, Class D airspace and included taking off, landings and a distress call. You would never expect this all on a single flight, but it had to be accomplished. Great day, learnt loads, how useful it will be to a PPG pilot....I'll let you know. In the past couple of months, we had problems taking off from a grass strip as light aircraft kept coming in as we got prepared! NOW, we could deal with this. In flight we can now call a balloonist and request permission for a fly-by. Without permission this could be an airprox incident! I'm not prepared to land at Birmingham International... but I could fly through less used airspace with permission from the tower. Highly recommend this course, it's possible for anyone, there is stuff to learn that we may never use (Squawks, transponders, QDM, Radar, etc.) but it will make us better pilots with more freedom in the air. It is expensive, my radio cost £169 for a new Yaesu 250L with all the new frequencies 8.33Kc steps. That is six times the price of the illegal Baofeng, even with an amateur licence it's still illegal to use in the sky and you can't speak to PPL, balloonists, Ultralights, etc.. A days tuition £70, the two exams another £130. Then you need to register with the CAA for your FRTO Licence, another £70, and finally the actual radio needs licensing at £15 every three years. But your PPG has probably already cost thousands of pounds.... Motor, wing, reserve, helmet, etc.. Any questions, please feel free to message me. I would highly rate www.planespeak.com as capable and suitable, but passing the exams is only the first part of being a good radio operator. They are based at Halfpenny Green Airport near Wolverhampton, but hold courses in different locations within the central UK. I hope this encourages others to think about becoming more professional as they fly.
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