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Just started learning to paramotor. Wow, it's different.


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Wow, this is a bit different from how I imagined it. The unit is a "lightweight" 20kg Backbone Stronger 125 (125cc ROS motor). This is going to take some getting used to, haha.

- At first the noise, vibrations, and thrust from the motor is pretty disconcerting. Totally and completely different from PG. My first 6 or so successful launches were all pretty messed up because I was afraid to really lay into the throttle during the running phase and I sat down a bit too early as well.

- The running part to me is extremely weird - I have to run as fast as I can, especially in nil wind, but at the same time my entire body needs to lean backwards a bit. I've never had to run like this before. This kind of body "geometry" for running simply doesn't happen naturally, ever. I guess you just get used to it? 

- I'm surprised how temperamental these motors are. The only real motors I'm familiar with are your standard 4-stroke ones in motorcycles and cars. They just start right up, don't need any kind of pull starting, priming, getting rid of air bubbles, dumping excess fuel down into the air filter compartment, etc. 

- Even with just 20-22kg on my back, I realised after a few small falls and slips that everything needs to be textbook - the launches need to be perfectly straight. The landings need to be perfectly straight. The ground handling needs to be spot on. The wind needs to be 200% manageable at all times. The bag of tricks that freefly paraglider pilots have for dealing with off-kilter stuff is almost non-existent with PPG, at least with a beginner like me. 

- And I'm happy that I started off with a double hooped clutched motor and not something like the Air Conception Nitro 200 with no clutch, single hoop, and the prop sticking out the back. I can't know for certain if I would have done some "parablending" of my equipment, but a few times I've had lines land on top of me just moments before I was able to kill the motor. 

- I like it, and I finally see how both PG and PPG can co-exist because they're both just so different. After my first day of PPG all I wanted was to do some regular PG. The light weight and silence makes me feel more "at one" with the air. The motor and heft of the unit makes it all feel so artificial, but at the same time, hey, I'm FLYING when other PG people can only sit and parawait. It allows me to be a loner and go f*ck off by myself somewhere, which is how I like to spend my time :P It's also great to be able to take off anywhere there's a decent amount of flat ground. I don't have to be so concerned about wind direction. I can go flying on my own instead of having a whole support crew with cars and permission of land owners with hills in their backyards. 

Edited by fuzzybabybunny
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Nice write up. It can seem a lot to take in with the noisy power unit, thrust, etc. but, as was said, you'll get used to it - especially the weight, which is useful when you're fuelled up for a long one. Ground handling is the key to it all, do more than you think you need and then do some more. When you can walk a wing across a big field without looking up at it you know you're getting there.

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22 hours ago, Steve said:

Nice write up. It can seem a lot to take in with the noisy power unit, thrust, etc. but, as was said, you'll get used to it - especially the weight, which is useful when you're fuelled up for a long one. Ground handling is the key to it all, do more than you think you need and then do some more. When you can walk a wing across a big field without looking up at it you know you're getting there.

Thanks.

In a nice, predictable ocean breeze I can walk around with the wing up no problem. One time during PG I bombed out on the beach about 1km from the launch, and I was able to ground handle on the flat beach all the way back - but ocean breezes are so, so easy as well as ground handling in a straight line. If I go inland it can all go to hell instantly, lol. Same with nil wind conditions. Right now when I ground handle I try to do zig zags, up hills, forward, backward, use a combination of riser pull along with brake pull, etc. I figure that the more kinks I can throw into ground handling the better it'll make me?

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Oh yeah, and I should mention that I got an engine-out on just my eighth launch, and it was AWESOME. I climbed to maybe 30 feet and *bloop* no more power, a good deal of pendulum, and a lot of confusion - I thought that I had accidentally pressed the kill switch but I'm convinced I didn't. I then did a lot of stupid things immediately afterwards:

- I instinctively put on some brakes

- I turned to the right a little bit (don't know why - I'm an idiot) and that meant going a little crosswind and also directly into a wind shadow from a line of trees.

- I realized I was an idiot and let off the brakes to build up speed for the flare. I knew the wind was light so I was hoping any turbulence from the wind shadow wouldn't collapse me.

- My slow speed only allowed a partial flare and I still came down a bit crosswind and slid out.

I'm really glad I had that experience of an engine-out during instruction. We had the chance to reflect on everything - my weird reactions, my improperly short warm-up of the engine (I didn't push it to full throttle while still on the ground because I'm still scared the thrust will knock me off my feet), and all the planning behind *why* I took off where I did. The instructor chose that spot because if there was an immediate engine-out there would be plenty of safe, exposed landing options within 100 ft of where my feet would have left the ground. And it hammered home to me just how many layers of paranoia I need to have when planning every. single. aspect. of my flight path, from feet on the ground at launch to after my wing is finally back on the ground and killed on landing.

This is a new way of thinking for me, having come from PG. With PG, at least ridge soaring along the coast, you will almost never have lift and then instantly ZERO lift. So the planning isn't as crucial. It's a bit ironic that with PPG, in which you can generate your own lift at will, you have to also plan for instantly losing all lift, lol.

Edited by fuzzybabybunny
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The first time I flew a PPG coming from pg I thought I had made a mistake with the weight and clumsiness on the ground, but you will get used to it and enjoy all the benefits of motoring, flying low, taking off on the flat, popping out to fly after work or late pm.

 

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Hey - engine out on 8th launch - me too! In my case it was at about 800' and my concern was to make it back to a suitable field (which I did) - everything went as I had been trained and it was quite a non event (apart from the hole in my piston due to overheating :-( ).  Now at least I've got my first 'engine out' under my belt.  They do say it is a matter of 'when' rather than 'if'...

You might want to copy some of this across to the Tips for New Paramotor Pilots thread?

I came to Power via Hill and Tow environments and each of them are different.  The clunky, clumsy feeling of getting ready for takeoff wearing a paramotor takes some getting used to, especially if you are well wrapped up for a winter flight, but I think it is worth if for the freedom you get as soon as your feet have left the field.  Enjoy!

 

 

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thanks for your sharing, fuzzybabybubnny.

I really don't know if to learn PPG after a PG experience shall be easier or not in comparison with a learner that has no experience at all of flying.

It is true that coming from PG you have to change some well trained and automatized abitudes approaching the PPG, but from the other side a completely "virgin" novice has to manage non only with the weight and thrust of an engine, but also with the sesation of being lifted by the wing....

and, well, an engine out during takeoff @ only 30 ft. shall not be a nice thing to manage with.... well done, even with some mistakes.

Edited by calcifer
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28 minutes ago, calcifer said:

thanks for your sharing, fuzzybabybubnny.

I really don't know if to learn PPG after a PG experience shall be easier or not in comparison with a learner that has no experience at all of flying.

It is true that coming from PG you have to change some well trained and automatized abitudes approaching the PPG, but from the other side a completely "virgin" novice has to menage non only with the weight and thrust of an engine, but also with the sesation of being lifted by the wing....

and, well, an engine out during takeoff @ only 30 ft. shall not be a nice thing to manage with.... well done, even with some mistakes.

I came from PG with about 80 flights, 20 flight hours, and maybe a total of 25 hours of ground handling in terrain ranging from flat grass to kiting up sand dunes and all wind conditions ranging from nil to "you're an idiot for even trying to ground handle so let me drag you clear across the footie field with people watching and twist your ankle in the process for good measure. You idiot."

All I can say is that I'm really thankful for the PG experience. Maybe I'm slow, but getting used to just flying and ground handling PG took some solid time and initially my brain was overloaded - steering the glider while running along the ground, timing flares, launching, figure eights, figuring out how much brake pull is needed for tight turns, flat turns, flares, etc.

When I started my PPG I didn't need to worry about any of that, but I was *still* mentally overloaded because now I've got this huge heavy spinning death fan on my back, roaring in my ear, pushing me around, preventing me from easily shuffling under the wing, and I've got so much extra crap in my throttle hand - the brake, the throttle, and the kill switch (and a riser if doing a forward launch). And I've gotta lean backwards while still running forwards, lol. 

So I think that it's a lot easier coming from PG. It's still not easy, but I can't imagine starting on a motor with next to zero PG flights, unless maybe I already had 100 hours of ground handling or something. The only PG habits I had to not do were:

- don't lean forward and torpedo on a launch

- be more "textbook" with all maneuvers and getting the wing up and kiting. You can get away with an awful lot of sloppy shit when you're only doing PG and wearing a 1kg harness - things change dramatically when you've got a 20+kg motor on your back!

Edited by fuzzybabybunny
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I started motoring after 7 years of PGing. It was really difficult to make the transition, but now I enjoy motoring more than just messing about on a ridge. I generally go free flying when it's really epic and thermic now, and motor otherwise.

 

For me changing my throttle to a chameleon throttle really helped make the transition. It is so much easier to ground handle like you would do with a paraglider, and made it so much easier. The bulky throttle really bothered me.

 

You will get more hours motoring than free flying very quickly, and start to enjoy it way more once you have done loads of take offs and landings. It's not so much about the number of hours when motoring, more the number of take offs and landings.

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Oh, I'd actually like to add that doing PG helped me get used to what a wing *should* do. Basically, a lot of problems can be overcome by simply laying off the brakes a bit and letting the glider fly by itself. It'll sort itself out if it's a beginner wing. If there's a collapse and it doesn't sort itself out immediately, weight-shift to the side with more support and simply do a gentle pump of the deflated side's brake to re-inflate. Happens during ground handling all the time as well. But basically just let the wing fly naturally and I'm used to how my glider should fly.

Now add the motor. I've been reading up and watching videos on all the weird twists that the motor can create, the most major being yawing the pilot towards the left but sending the glider into a right bank since the bottom of the pendulum (pilot) is now being thrust to the left, so people react by pulling hard on the left brake and doing nothing to the throttle, which makes everything worse. I've had some weird things happen doing flight and my first reaction is always to lay off the throttle and let the glider fly, because I trust my glider and know that it'll fly happily on its own if given the chance.

I guess it has a lot to do with the motor unit still feeling like a foreign object. If anything weird starts happening, I immediately cut out the foreign object and revert back to what I'm used to - free flight.

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It will all get better, you will learn to master takeoff so you only walk a few steps and then let the motor push you till off the ground, and you will enjoy flying not only WHEN PG friends are on the ground but also WHERE they cannot go.

Have fun!

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