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I have thoroughly enjoyed every blog posted so far, Some have been inspirational, all have been informative. Thanks to everyone for posting them.

As soon as the weather calms down I will definately be posting my own blog.

I am posting this now because I firmly believe I have already begun my training by reading and learning as much as I can from all of you here :D

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  • 4 weeks later...

Date: 26 April 2008

Place: The Henge

Norman and I went to meet a farmer who was interested in allowing paramotoring on his land. Bear in mind, I had set up this appointment having never handled a wing, never been physically close to a motor and having not flown anything myself for 15 years!

Norman took his Parajet Macro and Paramania Revo wing. I took my anemometer, and as luck would have it, a pair of ear plugs that were in my camera bag from the last time I went to Santa Pod Raceway.

I am awaiting the imminent delivery of a training wing, so I watched with great interest as Norman unpacked and laid out his wing in somewhat blustery conditions. He is obviously a methodical type of person so I would recommend any newbie to watch him at any given opportunity.

While he was setting up the wing, it gave me the chance to identify the lines and risers. Something I have only seen on youtube video etc up to now.

Next came the harness, again, connecting the risers is something I have only seen on video, but no-one has ever shot a vid of getting strapped in to the harnes that I am aware of, so this too was educational to a good extent.

Next came the launch. I was watching the anemometer, and Norman after making sure his ground was clear was looking at the windsock. He built the wall, and prepared to launch.

Just as he got the wing to halfway, the wind suddenly went from a steady 10mph to 19.5mph! (We later identified pockets of thermals that sweep across these fields by watching a pair of buzzards soaring them) I have to say, watching that magnificent wing go up has to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen!

After that came the motor. Because of the blustery conditions and the fact that he had limited fuel Norman decided he wouldn't fly. Good call! However, again watching him go through the checks gave me another valuable opportunity to see how it should be done.

I watched him go through these same procedures three times. Once for me, once for Sid the farmer, and once more because one of Sid's friends and neighbours had seen what was going on and 'popped over' to see Sid . :wink:

The meeting was a great success and Paramotorclub.org now has a fantastic new place to fly.

Lessons learned:

The sheer size of these wings has to be seen.

Be prepared for sudden gusts, you can't see it coming, but you can read signs if you know what to look for.

Up to now, terms like '60KG of thrust' have been meaningless numbers to me. Now I have seen the motor fired up and revved, it at least gives me some quantification.

If like me you are a complete newbie to this sport, take any opportunity to watch an experienced pilot, and don't be afraid to ask questions. If you think you would like a go, just ask for an invitation when a club is flying. It will NOT be wasted time

Norman, once again, thank you for a great day :D:D

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:lol::lol::lol:

I didn't see an experienced paramotor pilot when I was there Mark, but then I was busy.... A grand day out and the herald of many to come I think. If you think the '30m Revo' was big, wait 'till you see the 'Synth 34', it's huge and I would have vanished across the horizon kiting it yesterday. :lol::lol:

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I am now off work until next tuesday.

I had planned a trip to Lambourn for today or tomorrow, but a couple things have conspired to throw a spanner into the works

Plus, The weather is at best irratic, so by the time I get over there it may just be the case I have to turn around and come back again

Instead I'm therefore gonna scout for a field for groundhandling, and who knows? I might get lucky and find a flying site for the Devon branch :D

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Well, a few hours of driving round knocking on farm doors has produced some limited success.

upland farms tend to be a lot smaller than their lowland counterparts. Fields are generally much smaller, with a lot more hazards in. Also, anything remotely open is quite rare. Small steep hills with big trees right round them seem to be the order of the day round here

The farmers themselves tend to try to get a lot more out of each acre too, so the type of field I have been looking for is right now being grown up for silage or hay, so quite understandably the farmers don't like the idea of some fat bloke with a hard hat and big kite trampling it all down!

However, in a month or so's time that will be different, and I have a couple of fields I can go play in. One of them is even great for flying too :D

AND tomorrow's another day

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Just after I bought by first wing, and in my eagerness to get the wing out for ground handling at every possible opportunity I took my kit up to a popular local walking area thinking it would be a great spot. I was right and the near horseshoe landscape was giving me some nice air to get the wing up and reaqlly start to get a feel for it. Thank back to those early days when you imagined the wind would just whisk you off your feet every time and to have some control over this incredible sized kite was (and still is) such a thrill!

Unfortunately, within about 15 minutes I heard the note of a quad bike coming over the hill with a less than chuffed farmer on board. He explained that around the other side of the hill, but physically in the same field (but well out of site) was a herd of cows which would be less than impressed as the sight of a gigantic wing flying round.

I made my apologies, packed up my kit and made a sheepish exit (no pun intended).

In my personal flying log I try to note a few lessons each time I go out. Apart from always seeking approval from the landowner, the lessons from that day was to beware of fields that have cow pats in them!

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The reason I have been going round knocking doors etc is to avoid precisely that problem.

Not too many Years ago I lived on my first wife's family farm on the outskirts of Torbay. The number of people, both locals and grockles who thought it was perfectly fine to open gates and leave them open, walk across private land, have a picnic and leave litter etc and then generally get abusive and even violent when challenged beggared belief!

I would like to think that I, as a representative of paramotoring would be a lot more responsible than the people I regularly had to deal with as I rounded up straying livestock while picking up everything from pastie wrappers to soiled toilet paper off our own (private) land!

With luck and a following wind, by the end of this, Simon's Paramotorclub.org should have a few approved flying and landing sites where the farmers are happy to see us, and welcome PPG pilots. Me included.

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Mon 5 May

The Henge

Finally got to try out the Arcus for ground handling.

Using a borrowed harness (Thanks Norman :D ) got clipped in and attempted to build a wall.

Why is it that after four solid days of steady east southeast 10mph+ winds, on the one day I get to play it drops to less than 3mph? :roll:

Anyway, a couple of reverse launches, very short lived of course, then the moment I have not been looking forward to. Forward launch take 1.

Check harness and A risers for tangles, step back, park heart behind front teeth and away we go.

One, two, three steps, feel like I'm tied to a tree as the wing goes up intio the air. At this point I must have looked quite a sight. A grown man running full pelt with a big kite over his head.

Trouble was I was running forward but being blown backwards at about 2 mph. The 3 inches of clay that had plastered itself to my boots meant I was going in the direction of what little wind there was.

It was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened and my feet went one way while the rest of me and the wing went the other!

Much mirth ensued as I rosetted the wing and carried it back up the field for take 2.

Take 2

one, two, three steps then the tree was behind me again. This time I had removed most of the clay so I was making headway. wing dipped left so ran left and applied appropriate brake, wing dipped right, same again. On I went. Just as my chest was about to explode I was running out of field so stopped, turned and brought the wing down.

I know it's something that everyone here has done, but the feeling of elation I felt at that precise moment was amazing! It has got to be the most fun I have had with my clothes on for ages :D:D:D

I decided to quit while I was winning. Picked up the wing and headed back up the field. good timing as it happened because no sooner had I packed it away it started to rain a little.

I was still sweating buckets and getting my breath back fully half an hour later as Norman and I were planning a possible trip to Lambourn in the near future.

Thanks Norman. I'll pick up a harness of my own this week and go out at any given opportunity to fine tune, then it's all systems go for Lambourn. Judging by the cardio vascular workout I got today, I might need a smaller harness before long :wink::wink:

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Mon 5 May

One, two, three steps, feel like I'm tied to a tree as the wing goes up intio the air.

Just checking your technique here........ As you lunge forward the wing jumps into the air do you pause? and wait as it comes overhead? then as it gets easier (no longer tied to the tree) you accelerate forward?

If you keep forcing forward during the "third to two thirds through the launch" you prolong that phase and make it hard work for yourself and give the wing an opportunity to be naughty and go off to the side.

One step back between the lines, lunge forward and snap the wing off the deck moving forward a step or two until it feels like it is stopping you....pause there, even half a step backward if there is a bit of a breeze, then accelerate forward as it comes overhead and gets easier to move..... this is the moment you feed in the power when motor is attached.

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Perfect Francis. Thank you. :D

I was just 'running through the wall' (The point at which the wing acts more like a traction kite than a wing)

It makes perfect sense now you have described it to let the wing follow it's natural tendency and then pull again once it has gone through that phase.

Doh! :lol:

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  • 3 weeks later...

23-25th May Farmer Dave's place, Devon

I arrived around 1800 to find a bloke flat on his back in a field with a large wing just dancing gracefully in the blustery wind above him.

This turned out to be Dave, and whitters and Dan the camera man turned up at the same time as I did. It was a pleasure to finally put faces to names, and I apologise in advance if I can't remember your name next time!

Anyway, back to the wing.

I was quite surprised by the number of folks who lined up to play with this wing, even before they unpacked any kit etc. Soon it was my turn, after seeing Whitters kite it with relative ease, even given it's habit of asymetrical collapse on the right side, I was hoping I wasn't going to make too big a fool of myself :D

The wing is a DHV 2 and I was keen to feel the difference with my own practice wing. What a difference!

given the aforementioned habit of collapse, when it was fully inflated it was very fast and whippy. At first I had it lurching up and down like something out of a B horror movie. Then I managed to get it off the ground for even more fun and frollicks!

if as a beginner someone offers you a DHV2 wing, please don't be tempted. Even if it's a flyable model, at best you would probably end up frightening yourself into investigating philately for a second time :D

After half an hour or so I felt like I was getting somewhere when a gust took me about 5 inches off the ground before the now familiar starboard asymetrical dumped me firmly on my backside in a heap :lol::lol:

I quickly checked to see how many had watched it fully expecting everyone to be in 'point and laugh' mode

I was in luck, by this time others had arrived and everyone was far too busy assembling motors and talking about new modifications to Pap, Parajets, Walkerjets etc etc etc. I unclipped from the harness and sidled away to my car to count the bruises and catch my breath.

Saturday was quite litterally blown out, but that was OK, I had prior engagements that afternoon anyway.

Sunday evening however was a different matter. After a very wet start to the day, I spotted on the chart a high pressure moving south that was due to settle over us in the evening. I arrived at Dave's to find everyone else had given up and gone home. I don't really blame them. A big open field close to Dartmoor is not the best place to be when it's blowing a hoolie! They did however, miss the best weather of the weekend.

Dave and I kited around the field for an hour waiting for it to die down a bit which it duly did. The DHV2 wing, which I had now nicknamed the GBS or 'Giant Blue Slug' was up to it's usual tricks, but I was much better prepared for it this time and kept it aloft for longer periods and also got the hang of flying it back over itself to straighten up and start again.

Dave impressed the hell out of me. He is, like me, of the larger pilot variety, but to see him dance around the field controlling the beast was amazing :D

After a while he suggested trying out his Genie L flying wing.

This I found much easier. It was much more stable at the top and with a much gentler action was very satisfying to control. Even managed a few bunny hops down the sloping end of the field.

While I was happily kiting away Simon turned up and he and Dave started planning a XC flight to take advantage of the now perfect weather.

I watched with envy as they set off into the serene blue sky. I consoled myself on the long walk back to the yard to pick up my car with the thought that I had made good progress and am that much closer to achieveing the goal. :D

Thanks Dave. excellent weekend

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thursday 5 June, Dave's place.

Got an invitiation to go over and meet Bill Heaner, the designer of the Revolution Flat Top. much begging as I persuaded the wife to lend me her car. "I'll be back in an hour or so"

Got to Dave's in time to see the newly assembled motor about to be fired up. And what a motor! I'll post some pics later.

After this and a hang test, off we all went to the field. Very impressed watching Bill flying in blustery conditions that many less experienced pilots wouldn't dream of!

Got my practice wing out of the bag and got a great lesson from Bill himself! Carried on practising as Bill moved on to Sophie, Dave's partner.

Things going well until I paid the price for not wearing gloves. In a sudden gust I was taken by surprise as the wing lurched and collapsed around me, one of the mallions tore a strip off my thumb! Because of my high heart rate it bled like a stuck pig! :lol::lol:

I'll take that as a message from the Arcus, something along the lines of "Look, I'm a lovely old wing but you WILL treat me with respect OK?"

Decided I needed a break anyway so went to watch Bill and his mate Jack showing Sophie how to bring the wing up. Dave was taking photos and everyone was having a great time. By the time she finished, Sophie had the biggest grin on her face!

Did another 45 minutes or so kiting a bit later, then realised my hour had turned into considerably more so I Thanked Bill and the guys and made a hasty trip home.

The trip home is just long enough for the aching legs to start, but I don't care, I'm really getting somewhere now and enjoying every minute of it.

Thanks again for a great day Dave, and special thanks to Bill. An excellent instructor. If I can get the car again I'll definately be making an appearance at Dave's hastily arranged Fly-in this weekend :D:D:D

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Dave's Place

Bit of a frustrating day today. Got to Dave's field where the wind was blowing 5-9mph westerly, well, that's what my anenometer and compass were telling me!

The windsock was saying very different things.

In reality, the steady, if very fickle wind was only in one spot, and every now and again rotor from the big Poplar trees would mess even that up.

In the next field along, Dave measured 23MPH+ so of course any flying was ruled out.

Had some fun honing the kiting using direct control with weightshift and risers, kept the wing going for a good 15-20 minutes until the rotor nearly tipped me over. I was quite pleased with myself, especially when I saw Jack, a very much more experienced pilot do exactly the same not long after. (Allbeit with a much bigger wing).

Legs aching again now, and I also have a few bruises where the harness on the Flat Top caught me a couple of times as I tried to master standing up with it on. Once the lumbar supports etc had been re-adjusted things were a lot easier.

Bill and Jack, it was a pleasure to meet you guys. Have a safe journey home, and thanks for your patience and guidance :D

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The Henge

Spent most of the morning on the phone to potential sponsors. Wasn't really getting anywhere so when Norman 'pinged' me on Skype it was very soon arranged to meet up at Cartgate roundabout diner and head off to the henge for some kiting.

Whilst at the diner I learned that the CAA half mil maps are great 'cos you can wipe off any brown sauce s*removed by admin* easily. Thanks for the egg and bacon butty Norman :D

The Henge is still pretty badly cut up from the disastrous "Sunrise Festival" a couple of weeks ago. What they didn't show on the news was that the 10,000 hippies not only had to contend with the resultant mud bath of the downpour, but also the contents of 'The Lagoons' as they overflowed. I bet none of them were extolling the virtues of organic farming THAT day! :lol:

Anyway, the wind was slight and blowing from the south. I had been hoping for a little more breeze so I could show off the new kiting skills learned from Bill Heaner, but it wasn't to be.

I tried a reverse launch when the wind hit about 3-4 knotts, but it wasn't long before the rutted field and the fickle wind put an end to that.

Nothing else for it, forward launch practice time.

My fitness level has improved a lot since my first attempts, I have also gone from 103KG to 95KG, so three consecutive forward launches were 150 yards+ each, and pretty much spot on. Found myself wishing I had a motor!

Not long now :D:D:D:D:D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mon 30th June. Dave's Place

I have to 'fess up. The spill I had with Simon's 12m training wing on Saturday left me badly bruised and in quite a bit of pain. If that's what a 30mph gust does to a small training wing, thank God I wasn't strapped in to anything bigger!

My confidence took a hell of a nosedive at just after 6am sunday when I was kiting with Dave's Atis2 and lost my footing and landed again on my left knee and side, making everything even worse.

To cap it all, I now find out that we left just before Sal and Bill turned up with strawberries and cream!!!

Simon gave me a PMC T-shirt just before we left which I was really chuffed about. However, because I know he doesn't usually 'issue' those unless you have made your first flight, I haven't worn it yet. They are for real pilots.

Anyway, with confidence at a low, and with bruises coming out it looked like the T-shirt was going to languish in my drawer for quite a while.

That is, until I picked my youngest girls up from school this afternoon. As I stood in the playground among the chavs at one end with their corned beef legs cased in Lycra and the posh at the other end all yapping about red wine with Pizza, I spotted a lone paraglider overhead desperately looking for the merest hint of a thermal. I watched him/her for a good ten minutes and my mind was up there as well. I know the area well so I was willing him to turn west to get the thermal off the quarry ridge, or east and catch the heat rising from the A38. If all else failed go a little further west and rise the cloud of methane from the landfill!! None of this seemed to work so then I transmitted a thought to him saying "FFS, Just buy a bloody motor"

At this point I rang Dave to see if he was planning to go up tonight. At least I'll get some good photos I rationalised to myself.

Just before 5pm he rang me to say he was going flying, and that Alistair his mate was going to come over as well. Half an hour later, I was the first to arrive in the field where a nice southerly breeze was blowing at a steady 6-8mph. This would actually be the first time I have experienced such stable conditions since I started, so out came the Arcus and I got in a good half an hour of pleasant kiting.

By the end of that Dave and Alistair had arrived, so too had Simon, another PAP flyer I'd met before. They were soon set up and ready. The plan was to fly southwest towards one of my favourite places on Dartmoor. I felt the longing to fly surge back with a vengance as I watched them take off in turn and head towards one of my most beloved places on Earth!

Dave had left the wing I'm buying off him for me to play with, and also his Walkerjet motor. I hadn't kited with a motor on yet, so I thought "What the hell?" Here, alone in the field, no-one could see me if I F****ed it up again :wink:

After the initial feeling of weight, what followed was, for me, something a bit special. Before too long, I was doing forward launches without a problem, then the wind picked up to a heady 11mph so even a couple of reverses went smoothly. I bobbed down the hill at half brake, hardly even noticing the motor at all.

At this point one of Dave's neighbours and his son turned up. I gathered the wing and strolled back up to the top of the hill to where they had parked next to our cars/vans. I must have had a big smile on my face because one of the first things he said was "You looked like you were enjoying that. Have you just landed?"

I chatted with them for a good 20 minutes while I packed the wing away after kiting it first to make sure everything was straight and not tangled up. I even strapped them in turn in to the Walkerjet and showed them the technique of standing up with it.

Having been a salesman of some sort or another for most of my working life I know enthusiasm sells. I must have been bubbling because by the time we spotted the boys returning they were both asking where the nearest school was, how much it costs, what is the syllabus etc etc etc.

As the boys in turn made perfect landings, I caught myself saying "That's going to be me soon"

Somehow, these bruises don't seem significant now. And the beer I'm enjoying as I write this tastes somehow sweeter.

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It is only a matter of time my friend - a matter of time. When the damage heals and the wind dies to a balmy breeze, you will rise towards the clouds and it will be a very fine thing. It already runs in your blood, that pulse will turn to a rush, soon - very soon.

jonathan_seagull.jpg

:lol::lol: :lol:

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Lots of ground handling with that Genie and your harness Mark. Stay at under 7 mph if on your own and dont get a line around your neck. Practice damping the surge, in light conditions, to stop it over flying. Timing. Dont GH where it's really steep ground either please! No. Promise me!When your forward and reverse handling is reliable you will soon get to squeeze a throttle. Might take the engine out of WJ and let you practice GH with that.

Dave

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dave's Place.

Another good one tonight. I have done a few ground handling sessions in local fields for the last couple of weeks, but it's been far too fickle to attempt a first flight for well over a fortnight now.

Been watching the weather very closely because I am determined to make that flight before the start of the tip to Tip if at all possible.

Tonight we knew was going to be touch and go. The forecast said it was going to die down around 7pm, making the rest of the evening perfect. Theoretically.

As expected though, Met check was a bit over optimistic so we had some fun doing hang checks with the Flat Top motor dangling from Dave's Forklift. we also confirmed some ground siganlling drills, and even a radio comms check! It must be quite unusual to do a proper landing drill with the engine running at first? LOL

I have to say, sitting there dangling a few feet off the ground and playing with the throttle was great fun as well as valuable practice.

For me this was made obvious when one of Dave's mates, Andy did it. The smile that spread across his face when he felt the thrust of the motor for the first time was brilliant!

Anyway, by the time we'd done all this the wind had apparently died down enough for us to decide to go to the field and see what was happening.

When we got there, it was still a bit breezy to make a launch attempt, but just about good for some kiting fun. The wind was steady ish, but rotor from Dave's trees made things very interesting at times.

By now it was obvious that the wind was not going to play ball and the light had started to fade fast. We packed up and headed back down the hill.

Good fun as always, and another hour and a half of challenging kiting. I didn't trip or fall once. It's all gravy. :D:D:D

Thanks again Dave. If you do need a retrieve driver tomorrow, give me a shout. If not, no sweat, I'll just go and take pictures of something. :wink::wink:

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