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Landing in water.


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Nice and simple... the only advice I have been given on the subject is from a guy who has had to do it and is alive and flying. :D


Ensure that all of your straps are undone

Leave your brakes up. (DO NOT FLARE!!!)

(ADDED) If you are flying a PPG You can jump out at 5 ft or so from the water. If flying PG this is NOT reccomended as the glider will more than likely land on top of you as it looses the weight required to fly. (think what happens to a kite when you let go of the string, a motor applies enough pressure to keep the wing flying away from you)

Swim a good distance away from your kit (ACROSS) any noticable current.

Fingers Xed from now on.

My personal thoughts are do not fly over water unless you have glide clear height and or a bottom landing, and you will find that places like the IOW will not like you flying without a knife attached to your kit.


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Yes they do, ususally from Lymington to Yarmouth along the spit leaving justa half a mile of watyer to cross but under a 2000ft Class D ceiling. They then fly out to the needles and along the south coast.

But a more ambitious plan for this summer is:-


And I am talking to the CAA about having a round the Island race to co-incide with the annual sailing race. So we could have a weekend of mayhem and fun!!!!!

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Simon, why do you make a downwind landing on water?

The thinking is that you should drop out of your harness into the water at about 5 feet so that the wing and motor fly well ahead of you before they hit the water. If you do this downwind the distance you are from your kit is increased.

I would probably want to put a couple of provisos on this. First if the wind speed is more than 10 mph you will be hitting the water at 35mph or more and any one who has water skiid will know that water is surprisingly hard stuff at that speed.

Second its not that easy to judge your height over water so you might think you are at 5 feet but might still be at 20!

Any way, getting well clear of sinking metal and snaggy lines and fabric full of water is a good idea.

The killer in water landings is surf. That is what has done for the two pilots I know about who have died landing in water. In that scenario getting clear of the kit quickly is essential. The sea fills the wing and suddenly you are tied to three tons of wing surging about in the waves!

Flying with a hook knife is mandatory at our (IOW) sites but I wouldnt give much for your chances cutting loose if you ever did get caught.

And thats the big if! why would you ever get caught over water with nowhere to go? Plan A and also plan B and C and D as well!!!!!!

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IMO, and what l have learned through skydiving and Paragliding/motoring, avoid water landings. If you need to cross water stay high enough for a glide to clear. If a water landing is iminent, prepare early, fly into wind, breaks up, trims if fitted to landing settings, engine off. Undo all buckles and as soon as one foot touches water slip out of harness and swim slightly left or right of forward. In answer to Simon,s downwind approach, this is also right but the landing will be much faster and you have to swim into wind.


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  • 7 months later...
  • 2 months later...

Two weeks ago we had a paramotor safety day. During this day we practiced first aid and techniques how to help pilots in trouble. At the end of the day we organised a paramotor water landing simulation.

During this simulation we used a Fresh breeze motor and a hot swimming pool. We wanted to test some important issues:

-If I hit the water, what will the position of the pilot be in the water.

-Does the paramotor comes up after going into the water.

-Is it possible to go head first into the water and turn underneath the water.

-Will different crash impacts have effect of the pilot position in the water.

-Is it possible to escape if your being dragged. ( landing with 5 bft winds )

-How much does a full or empty fuel tank effect the floating force.

We replaced the engine block with the same weight amount of lead. For the safety we attached a rope to the cage in case the pilot was drowning.

The were about 6 pilots who jumped into the water. Some had good swimming skills, other less (poor).

Our first test was jumping into the water in a normal landing position with a full fuel tank. After hitting the water the pilot will come up by itself. The pilot comes up in standing position face forward. Our nature is to swim forward, belly down and the back up. The is very difficult because of the cage is pushing down the helmet and the head of the pilot. There for everybody who came up from the water and turned on their back. If your swimming with belly up the paramotor doesn’t drags you under. In this position (on the back) it’s was no problem to swim long distances (100 meter). To compared this kind of swimming with in a normal position the swimming speed would be a little less. Also when the pilot swims on the back the risers can easily be disconnected. In a emergency it’s takes about 30 seconds till one minute to disconnect the belts.

Now we jumped with almost an empty fuel tank. The floating force of the paramotor is so strong it’s almost impossible to sink. In the water the pilot is pushed up in the back by the paramotor. This makes it’s very easy to swim ashore on the back. We tried all crash positions (shown on the video) to see if we could get the motor above us in the water. We couldn’t create any position were the paramotor prevented the pilot to come above the water. The motor has so much buoyancy the pilot can keep his hands and feet out of the water.

We simulated a strong wind landing in the water. Two men pulled the pilot with a rope in the water. This test was done to see if it’s still possible to stay with your head above the water and if the belts could be disconnected. I was pulled into the water and was dragged with a speed of 1 meter per seconde. I came above the water floating on my belly. When I hollowed my back I didn’t had to do anything to keep my head clear of the water. With my hands I could manage to disconnect the chest belts and leg belts.

We noticed it’s no problem at all to get in the water with just a paramotor. It’s very dependable how the paraglider will land. We experienced that the safety rope went around our feet a couple of times. This gives a lot of trouble. You need your legs to stay on your back. Now it’s one rope, but in case of a paraglider their will be more ropes which can strangling your legs. Also when the paraglider comes above you in the water the pilot can easily strangled up by the lines. This problem can drown the pilot very quickly.

Our conclusion.

-Stay calm. You won’t sink to the bottom and the motor gives you the first 2 minutes

extra buoyancy. When the fuel tank is almost empty you can't even sink

-Try to stay clear from the glider. The best way is to keep the glider and the lines behind you.

Try to disconnect the glider as soon as possible.

-The little extra pressure on the belt connections doesn’t make it more difficult to open them.

You can’t see them so you have to find them by feeling around.

-For people who don’t want to lose their precious paramotor. When you are disconnected

from the motor you can keep it in on hand and swim it ashore. This doesn’t takes much effort.

Here is a short video from jumping into the water:


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Very interesting contribution to the discussion thijs.

I can't help thinking that staying with your kit is an act of faith. Unless you can effectively cut away from your wing before splashdown you are attached to a massively effective sea anchor with a mind of its own. Trying this will have you hitting the water hard, particularly if you misjudge the height above the oggin as is a distinct likelihood. Hitting the water with your motor on your back from any height above a couple of feet will probably cause significant injury - think a smash on the back of the head/neck and broken ribs from the arms, punctured lungs even.

Your wing then take you the way of any current in a manner that might upset the best laid plans for both breathing and remaining buoyant with your kit. Not instantly, just as you have been nicely tied up by your riser lines.

Being festooned by lines on dry land with even a gentle draft blowing is a potentially dangerous business as the cutting and strangling power of dynema/kevlar is legendary, we have all seen that. In the water it almost doesn't bear thinking about. Food for though - nightmares even.

Anyone for foot dragging in the surf? For me Francis and Simon have the best approach - get rid of your kit but make sure you jump from the right height, there have been instances where the exit point has been misjudged and a long drop delivered as the reward. Anything over 100' and you might not get away with it.

I am not casting assertions at your research, (admirable to test the realities of a ditching) just adding a few thoughts.

Another - fuel is lighter than water. A low mounted tank will contain air and light fuel - it will probably de-stabilize the floating geometry of the pilot/motor combo and force you face down? Another nasty little characteristic. :shock:

'Cheerful soul aren't I? :D

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this is very interesting id you tie a float to the bottom of your back it doesnt push ya head under and flip you upside down it pishes you straight up, i have done this my self, now whether the low tank would do the same i dont know but i would think the same would happen . the video done is a good thing because it gets rid of people assuming what happens and turns it in to fact. which is what we are all seeking.

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yes it does look that way but i have no intention of flyin over water, there is enough dangers to watch for and flyin over water is adding to them so i am no way intending doin such

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