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Day 1. ½ day

Total training time: ½ day

Never flown before, never been hot air ballooning, microlight, light aircraft, helicopter. Never parachuted or done paragliding. I did go up in a glider once but it was very brief because of a technical fault. That's it.

Today I spent the morning with Steve Page ground handling and I really tested his patience... :D 

It's much harder than those YouTubers make it look! My arms feel like they're going to fall off! Aching shoulders, arms and fingers, mainly because I was not doing what I was told half the time. I can only do one thing at once and found it quite hard to know which brake to pull when and how to keep the wing in the air. After a couple of hours I got the harness on and tried reverse and forward launches without a motor. I must admit I was a bit slow on the uptake and only managed to keep the wing up a few times for no longer than a couple of minutes.

I was quite frustrated with it at times, but felt that by lunch time I had made some progress and had slightly more than a 50/50 chance of keeping the wing up. Slow progress, but I think it will come eventually with practise. I plan on getting a ground handling wing to practise on in between training sessions so I can get trained up as quickly as possible and get up in the air with you guys!

Three paramotorists flew over while I was practising, which was great. Tim, was that you? :) 

Thanks to Steve for his patience and good humour!

This is me struggling:


Edited by subtlealpine
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  • 1 month later...

Day 2. Full day

Total training time: 1½ days

Long time no post. I was away for a weekend, my trainer, Steve Page, was away for a weekend and then the weather was just too windy. However I did get a full day's training in yesterday and my first tandem flight! :D

I've got myself a cheap ground handling wing and since my first session I got that out a couple of times and did not have a happy time with it. I was still very frustrated trying to stop the wing from rolling over. The first time I tried on my own, and I think the wind was too strong and gusty so after a few minutes I put it away again. The second time there was no wind at all, and trying to kite a wing with no harness with no wind didn't work out too well either. So, since my first lesson I felt like I made no progress really, and getting a bit impatient and frustrated with the whole thing, especially after watching videos of Americans seeming to go up every evening...

So, yesterday I met Steve at the field at 9am with another student and had a full day training and it was amazing. There was a light 6mph wind clear skies, pretty much perfect conditions. Started the day with kiting the wing and made excellent progress and managed to keep the wing up for quite some time.


After the kiting, just before lunch at around 11:30 Steve took me up for a one hour tandem flight.

Wow what an amazing experience that was. Steve attached a chase cam as well with a go pro, to get some awesome footage, and of course, some selfies with the go pro selfie stick. Take off was interesting on the tandem, I'm in front trying to run without kicking my legs back too much so that Steve doesn't trip over me. I'm also trying to keep the bar pointed upwards so that I don't face plant and catapult Steve over the top of me. Anyway, it all worked out great and we launched with no issues over the telephone lines and then the lake. :-o

The flight itself was pretty amazing, saw four buzzards flying together in spiral, probably on a thermal. Flew over Grendon Lakes, towards the village of Finedon and then flew back for a landing. On the way back Steve did some mild wing-overs to test the new chase cam and I have to be honest, I felt a bit nauseous (such a lightweight). I managed to stop my self from throwing up over Steve and into the prop, so all was well. :) Landing was pretty much perfect, with Steve shouting in my ear "Keep running, keep running". I then had to turn around and walk backwards to allow the wing to drop. All in all a great landing with no face plants.

A couple of photos:





Chase cam:


What an experience! :D

Once my nausea had gone, had some lunch and then did some more ground training, this time with a harness. That didn't go so well as the kiting just holding the lines, to be honest. I found it much more difficult to get centered under the wing with the harness on trying a front launch. I found the reverse launches easier, but then I kept pulling the wrong brake. Sigh. Need lots more practise with the harness before my next session with Steve. By around 4pm I was pretty tired after doing lots of ground handling, and after packing away all our wings except the tandem wing, I thought I'd have a go kiting the 42 metre tandem wing! I was expecting a rough time with it, but it came up nicely and was much easier than my own wing to keep in there, with pretty much no effort, definitely surprised me. Here it is:


Sun was starting to get low in the sky by this point and Steve offered me a second tandem flight, so of course I jumped at the chance. This flight was spectacular because as we were setting up, we could see a Virgin hot air balloon coming directly towards us. We got clipped in and went for a launch. The wind was starting to become a little changeable at this point so  the launch as a little bit rougher. All I can remember is "Keep running, keep running". and then "If we launch keep running. KEEP RUNNING!" It felt like we got slightly airborne, but then my feet came back to the ground again, but I was still running, so it was all good. A few seconds later we were up and my adrenaline was kicking in big time!

The view a this point were just beautiful with the setting sun and we immediately turned to have a tour of the balloon. Unfortunately the balloon was coming in for a landing just as we got airborne so we circled it from a few hundred feet up and watched it land in the setting sun. At this point another student arrived for a tandem flight was we made our way back to the field with breath taking scenery over the village of Wollaston with the sunset. What a fabulous flight. The landing was spot on with no face planting.

A few photos of that flight:





All in all a fab day and huge thanks to Steve. I feel much more confident now to practise on my own wing and progress to the next stage.


Edited by subtlealpine
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Ah lots of familiar place names there!

I think I may have even seen the same balloon if it was Friday afternoon.  I wasn't flying, but was out in the field in Northampton doing a bit of kiting and practice launches on new kit.

Nice blog and great pictures.  Keep them coming!



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  • 2 weeks later...

I've bought a paramotor!

Got a second hand one that Steve found for me, but has low hours on it. Bulldog mark 3 frame Moster 185cc Classic engine. Wing is a Dudek Synthesis LT 31 in red. I took the wing out for a bit of ground handling and it's a bit feisty compared to what I'm used to, so will take me some hours to get the hang of it.

All in all, excited for my next lesson with Steve and for my first solo flight!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 3. Full day

Total training time: 2½ days

Had another full day's training yesterday with Steve. Great day, made lots of progress and was really great to have John and Andy there too, Steve's other students, to share the experience.

I successfully made many runs down the field with harness on and kept the wing up from one end of the field to the other. No motor on my back just yet, but I feel confident now to strap in, run down the field and keep the wing overhead. Was a great feeling now that it finally clicked. Here's one of my runs down the field:

Weather was cold, with a very light breeze with a few scattered clouds. Frost on the ground when we arrived. Perfect conditions considering the time of year really.

Steve offered another tandem flight so obviously I said yes let's go! First launch failed because one of the lines got caught in a clip under the round metal protector. No big deal, we set up the wing and had another go; Here's the take off:

Pretty funny that I kept running even though we were clearly about 20ft up in the air. I don't mind, I can take it.. :D

Had a really enjoyable flight. Steve gave me the throttle for a while so that I could get a feel for it, I was quite surprised how sensitive it was. We then dropped down for some low-level flying at my request (been watching too many Tucker Gott videos) which was really great, as I've never done that before. I really enjoyed that. Here's a vid of the low-level flying:


We saw a buzzard circling a field and we joined in with it and did a few circles too which was fun. Flew over Steve's house to check on the neighbours, all good, and then flew over the Castle Ashby House with it's huge driveway. Didn't get any photos of that unfortunately, will get them next time... 







Flight time was around 40 minutes I think, but who knows time flies when you're having fun! On the approach to land, Steve gave me the brakes to hold and I practised some turns and lined her up for a landing and then handed over to the pro for the final descent. Landing was smooth as butter, as you can see:


At the end of the day as the sun was setting I got my new bulldog Vitorazzi Moster 185 motor out and put it on my back to see how it felt with it powered up. I was very very surprised at how heavy that thing was. I did have a full tank though and I've never had a motor on my back before. I was quite intimidated by the power of it to be honest as I gently squeezed the throttle I couldn't believe how much force it was pushing. Good experience, can't wait to run down the field with it on full power soonish. :-) 

A fabulous day with Steve once again, and was great to share with John and Andy too. Looking forward to my next day's training where I can hopefully run down the field with a motor on my back. I'd better start going to the gym... :| 

Edited by subtlealpine
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Great update!

It's heavy just in the beginning (same feeling for almost everyone), you will get used to it if you put it on your back regularly, shoulders will be sore, but after a while they get used to it, and then you have one thing less to focus on when launching.

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  • 1 month later...

Day 4. Full day

Total training time: 3½ days

Had a hectic week before so was pretty tired this cold heavily overcast, dark murky January Sunday morning. Got a text message from Steve at 8am saying he would be down the field. I honestly felt like lying in bed, but I knew I would regret it later, and I'd been wanting to train for weeks. Weather for the past six weeks had been too windy or too wet so I was keen to get some solid training in.

Weather was cold, dry and still. About 4C and literally no wind at all, no frost. Heavily overcast, low cloud base.

I finally dragged myself out of bed, and got down to the field at 10:30 where Steve was waiting. :$ Spent the first hour getting the kit out and got the old bulldog fired up. Had some trouble with the clips and some leaking fuel, but it turned out the fuel had leaked out of the overflow pipe while travelling. Starts up beautifully and got it on my back to get a feel for it. It did cut out several times while getting it going, but was probably air in the tubes, will have to keep an eye on that.

Another chap called Paul popped down for some practice (not one of Steve's students), so was nice to chat to another paramotor enthusiast. Hi Paul if you're reading!

After too much chat and playing around with the bulldog, it was time to get serious. :-o

I decided to do a forward without the motor and run down the field with the wing above. The wing came up easy despite the nil wind and I ran down the field and got warmed up nicely, a great start to the day with a perfect launch and run. I was happy. I decided to practice a few more times and at this point a slight breeze came in. Trouble was, the breeze kept changing direction, although it was very light, not enough to even lift a windsock, just the little ribbons.

The next two runs were not so great as I was running cross wind so the wing came up good but then I couldn't keep it in the air and it ditched. Got a bit frustrated at this point to be honest, and decided to have a rest. After a drink and a sandwich, did another run down the field, here it is for you wannabe paramotorists, it's bloody hard work, especially on a big 31 meter dudek synth LT wing.

At this point there was a nice gentle breeze of about 4mph and I heard some paramotors on the horizon! Two guys came in to land from St Neots and it was great to see them land and have a good chat. One of the guys had a bulldog too so that was good to see. I did another run without the motor to provide some entertainment to the guys that had just landed:

At the end of that run the wing was coming down into a very large muddy puddle with lots of mud so I frantically tried to keep the wing out but failed, and got a bit of mud on the front edge, not too bad though.

We then watched our visitors take off and it was then time to get the motor on and do a dead motor run. i.e. running the field with motor, helmet and wing but without it fired up. I am still surprised by how heavy it is, even after Steve kindly siphoned off half the fuel from the tank so I had less weight. This run did not go very well, as you can see:

I hadn't experienced the pull of a large wing with a motor on my back before and so face planted into the ground and I felt like a right idiot, haha. Steve came running over and helped me up and untangled me. Good job the motor wasn't running! 

It was about 3pm by this point and I was getting pretty tired. It did cross my mind to pack it in right then and go home for the day and I was getting a bit despondent. Steve wouldn't have it, and kept my spirits up by encouraging me to keep going. So, we got the wing laid out again and I had another go. This time wasn't great either, the RH riser got trapped on the side of the frame which pulled the wing over. I wasn't holding the As out wide enough for the launch so got dragged to the side of the field and I didn't really feel in control of the wing at all.

Steve encouraged me to go again, so I dragged myself back to the edge of the field, got the wing laid out and had another go. This time the lines caught on the edge of the frame again and the wing wouldn't fully inflate.

At this point I was totally done in, so I asked Steve to show me how it's done. :) Of course Steve got the wing up beautifully but I could see it was a lot of effort for him too, it's a heavy motor and a big wing, and when it's not powered up demands a lot of effort.

At this point Steve could tell I was getting a little pissed off with it, so we put the motor down and did some hand kiting without harness to get a good feel for the wing again. That was good and went reasonably well so I felt a bit better after that.

The goal for the day was to end with a powered run with wing, but we didn't quite get there after lots of gruelling effort. Never mind, the next training session will be powered runs and I'll try and get some practice in myself in between.

Steve was patient with me as usual, with good humour and spirit encouraging me along when I wanted to get a few times. So thanks again Steve!

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Hi, hopefully a helpful comment for you.......when you are getting the risers caught on the frame it is because you are not holding your arms out to the side. Because it is hard to hold your arms out and take the pull it is natural to bend them. You have your arms bent and out in front of you.

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36 minutes ago, MarbleOne said:

I feel those feels.. only done a couple of runs wearing the motor myself and had results very like yours. I'm sure it's another one of those 'once you get it, you get it' things, like kiting was.

Onwards and upwards! Let me know when you're down there again, I'll try to make it.



Was great to meet you Paul, I'll be down the field the next weekend that weather permits for sure!

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Odd that the lines are catching on the hoop - there`s not really any snags on the Bulldog frame for the lines to catch on, the joins where the hoop sections butt against each other are pretty snug and any gap is taken up with an o-ring - unless it`s because your arms arn`t stretched out to the side as AndyB says above, they do look like they`re more out in front of you in one vid increasing the angle of lines-to-glider.


Yes, it`s a totally different ball game with a motor on your back, isn`t it?

Now imagine carrying another 14kg + of fuel, reserve & other gubbins, in a restrictive winter flying suit and multiple layers on underneath, clumpy boots, isolating helmet and earplugs, gloved hands decreasing tactility, a spinning prop and the pressure of aiming to launch first-time in nil wind without faceplanting, damaging lines, busting a prop, blending your wing or hurting yourself! It can be done - we`re all doing it (mostly without mishap)...

The best thing you can do is practice, practice practice with the motor on your back until your fully confident in your ability to get the wing up and running and only then start to add power.

All good fun though, keep the vids coming, we`ll soon be seeing your `first flight`..




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I feel for you.

I simply never managed to 'get it' when I was younger and now don't feel that I have the physical ability/strength. That's why I fly with a trike, so the wheels take the weight and the prop gives push.

Easier I know with a reverse launch, but at those times the air isn't as smooth as we would like it. It is a conundrum with which my wheels help.

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44 minutes ago, Guy said:

I feel for you.

I simply never managed to 'get it' when I was younger and now don't feel that I have the physical ability/strength. That's why I fly with a trike, so the wheels take the weight and the prop gives push.

Easier I know with a reverse launch, but at those times the air isn't as smooth as we would like it. It is a conundrum with which my wheels help.

I just switched to a Nitro so that I can still foot launch - got a bit too knackered to pick up too much weight any more!

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Hi Subtlealpine,

Cool... just stumbled into your blog. Very good, and a comprehensive look at training. Funnily enough, I was one of the two chaps who flew in from near St Neots. I am Lee (with the Bulldog) and the other chap was Gary. Your 'real' name is Mark isn't it?

To be honest, from what I saw, I thought you were doing really well. I suspect you are hard on yourself as you normally pick things up quickly. Your control was good (especially in such low wind conditions) and you certainly have the basics squared away. You are getting great training from Steve and, as frustrating as it is, the more time you spend practicing - the easier it will be down the line. The tandem flights are brilliant and so useful in your training. Most of us certainly never had that option all those years ago.

Hann really does get it spot on above. Its one thing to kite the wing, but add in all the other factors and clutter and the game changes significantly. That is why practicing with a motor on and a wing above is essential (I didn't do this and paid the price). You will get used to it and the weight of a Bulldog soon won't be an issue (its actually not that heavy). Note - you do need your arms wide and high for a Bulldog launch and your arms need to stay back (no heavy pushing forward on the A's) until the wing is overhead. Just keep the pressure on the wing through the harness and light pressure on the A's as you continuously push forward. As long as you are centred, and into wind, the wing will come up fine. From there on its just timing and running!!!

As I mentioned to you at the field, I didn't get the training you are getting and so have been through a fair few props and frustrating times (I'm sure some muppets on here will agree). You just need to be patient, practice and then practice some more and it'll all be fine. I suspect it isn't long now and you'll be aloft on your own anyway.

One last point... the weather hasn't been too good so far this winter. There were far more flying opportunities last year, but don't let that frustrate you. It will come!

If you need any help with setting up your Bulldog again, or anything else, you are very welcome to contact me.

Enjoy. Lee 'reactionjackson'


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Great training, it is this frustrating to learn how to fly PPG, but it will get so much easier if you keep doing this boot camp like torture training :D:D:D

Just an advise that I think can be useful. When you practice like this and get tired and you finally feel like you got it, you just need this last run feeling. Skip it and call it a day, just don't do it.
It's much more likely that you will trip and fall, pull too hard on the As and collapse the wing/ trip fall catch the wing with prop etc... It's always the last practice run for the day that fucks up everything because you are tired but highly motivated. Save that motivation for the next day, it's not the last rep on the gym where you have to squeeze out everything you got. Trust me, that beer when you come home from the field will taste so much better even if you didn't fly that day instead of having to repair broken equipment :) 

I'm speaking from personal experience, and I'm sure many pilots will recognize this silly behavior that some of us do in situations like this. And it's hard for someone else to tell when this is happening since it's individual. But I'm sure lots of instructors have students who damaged their gear on the last runs for the day. We don't need two steps forward and one step back if we practice with common sense.

On the last video you never lift your hands and keep the middle leading edge closed from the air flow, that's why it hugs the cage from the wingtips, it have no pressure in the middle, On the second last video you raise your hands and the middle part of the wing inflates and lift it self up.
It's hard because it's easy to lean on the risers, but then it gets harder to stand up, and if you do it after leaning, you depower the wing in nil wind when you don't run and it stalls. The problem starts with the leaning, and there is little you can do to correct it afterwards. Use your arm strength and pull it, or a bit of forward momentum to jerk it up, but not to much as it can accelerate the wing too much and overshoot before you get used to it. Details, so many details... keep practicing.

Edited by Casper
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  • 3 months later...

Long time, no write!

Busy with work and weather in UK has been shite. Decided to just get my training done and head to the APPI Paramotor Barcelona School for 6 days training on the APPI Adventure Pilot course. Myself and a training buddy, John, from the field in UK decided to go together. We were trained by APPI Master Trainer Armand Rubiella. Amazing guy, top notch teacher, recommended.

Day 507:00 - 13:00. 7 May 2018

Total training time: 4½ days

Arrived at the field and basically started training again from scratch with a run down the field with harness, with the following aims:

  1. Bring the wing up nice and level
  2. Correct the wing if drift and keep it level.
  3. Stop immediately on stop command from instructor.

This went pretty well thanks to the previous days training with Steve in the UK. Video [00:22] 


Weather was cloudy and the occasional 5-10 minute light rain and very light winds < 2 mph, a bit annoying, but never mind.

A successful day was had with many successful runs down the field and good stops. At 11:00 we went into the shed for some theory and learned about theory of flight, and the importance and procedure for stopping correctly.

One thing that I hadn't noticed before was that I was not pulling the risers tight outwards before launch. This made a huge difference to my launches as it meant that I was perfectly symmetric. The teacher told me that I need to keep my shoulders straight as well, and to focus on a point on the horizon and not look up at the wing. If my path was pulled left or right, to just adjust with the opposite brake. This alone improved my launches a lot.

Great day, and feeling confident and inspired.

Edited by subtlealpine
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Day 6 (2 in Spain)07:00 - 12:00. 8 May 2018

Total training time: 5½ days

Weather very light winds again from the mountains, overcast with occasional light rain. Started the day with another couple of runs with harness, then put the motor on my back and did some runs with motor on back, engine off. Again, focusing on keeping a straight line, looking forward only with risers taut on launch. Was a challenge but much more successful than my attempt in the UK with my heavy Bulldog Moster 185. Using an 80cc Pap motor with a little fuel in the tank, so much lighter.

Body feeling wrecked afterwards. Bruised and aching. Went into the shed for another hour or two of theory on the whiteboard. Learned about air law, and basic meteorology and wind. I found this interesting to observe the play of sun on the ground and how that affects wind conditions especially when in close proximity to mountains and the sea. Most of you know this, but the cold air overnight sinks down from the mountains and flows to the coast creating a steady light cool wind. Perfect conditions for flying. As the sun heats the mountainside, the air there rises creating a vacuum below, so the wind then becomes changeable and then starts to flow the opposite way from the beach to the mountains. I could see this by looking at the windsock on the field. By around 11:30 - 12:00 the wind direction changed and started to become slightly thermally.

Again, another successful day with much progress made so, well happy.

Weather brightened up in the afternoon, so we took a trip down to Sitges. Beautiful place! 



Edited by subtlealpine
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Day 7 (3 in Spain)07:00 - 12:00. 9 May 2018

Total training time: 6½ days

We started the day training with motor on back, engine on but no throttle. Did a couple of runs like this, just to get the feeling of a running engine on my back and to demonstrate that I could stop the engine and brake the wing well. I didn't do too well with this at first, forgetting to pull the brakes right down and hold them there, or struggling to find the kill switch.


We then progressed onto using a little throttle maybe 30-50% to feel the push of the engine, but not getting anywhere near to take off speed. Again, focusing on stopping well and killing the engine.

Video [00:29]

Instructor then showed us another technique to launch by using some throttle at the start to inflate the wing. Bending over slightly get the engine up to 30% throttle then stand up straight and walk forward. Wing inflates, then full power. Nice. Much less effort to get going on a light wind day.

We then did a hang test in the "simulator" to see if we could get into the seat once in the air. It proved difficult with the little Pap 80cc engine as the seat was small, so we changed to the 125 Pap with a bigger harness and was a still challenging but finally managed it.

John on the simulator


To finish off the instructor wanted us to feel the max power of the 80cc engine on our back so we put the engine on again and revved up to full throttle. Fun!

Video [00:11]

In the afternoon, we took a trip up to Montserrat Monastry on the cable car and had a relaxing pleasant afternoon.


Edited by subtlealpine
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Day 8 (4 in Spain)07:00 - 12:00. 10 May 2018

Total training time: 7½ days

Continuing on from yesterday with engine on back, but this time getting the throttle to full power and then cutting the engine just before take-off point. On this run I got maybe 2 seconds of air maybe 1 ft off the ground. It was a great feeling and much easier with the engine doing most of the work. Finally my days of running the entire length of the field with the wing are over! :)

I did another run, but this time held full throttle for much longer. I started to get airborne and then stopped the throttle, full brakes and killled the engine. Quite a lot of mental load for a new learner, but I managed to do it, but not without scaring myself silly when I was at least 10 ft up in the air. I held the brake and came back smoothly to the ground and somehow managed to stay on my feet. Massive adrenaline rush, and I wanted to do it again!!

Bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo!!! :) 

This final run consolidated what I had learnt that day, so felt really good at the end. :)

One of the Spanish students showed us his tattoo, and I was blown away! Check this out:


After physical training we went back into the classroom and did some more theory, Next day is the day for first flight!! We went through the protocols for landing, learning about 8, S, and U patterns, more wind theory, and what to do on engine failure, radio failure, etc. So tomorrow we will be doing our first flight (weather permitting)!

In the afternoon, took a trip into the ancient Roman settlement of Tarragona, nice place.




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Day 9 (5 in Spain)07:00 - 09:30. 11 May 2018

Total training time: days

Arrived at the field with the wind blowing the opposite direction. Nice clear day but with meterological wind, not local wind from the mountains. My instructor explained that perhaps the mountains had cloud cover overnight so the cold air did not flow from mountain to the beach, and also the higher altitude winds were stronger from the opposite direction. This meant we had limited time because as the sun warmed the mountainsides, more wind would be sucked inland and it was already coming from the beach.

We took out gear to the opposite end of the field to do a couple more practise runs with a stop, to be followed by our first flight. I must admit I was pretty excited the night before so hadn't had much sleep but I was dead keen to do it.

This time we started with the 125cc Pap engine instead of the 80cc for more power and a bigger harness. My first run I pulled the wrong break and felt more torque from the engine which threw me, so I killed the engine. Not good:

My second run was perfect, although I forgot to keep holding the brakes down after landing, but I am now ready for first flight! 

John's turn and on his second flight he got quite high, maybe 6-10 ft and landed awkwardly as the wind changed slightly on landing and he sprained his ankle. Understandably, he was not very happy about this turn of events at all, and limped back to the end of the field for a rest.

The wind was starting to pick up more now and the instructor told us that we would not be flying anymore today. :( We did some kiting of the wing for practise, and went back to the shed for a recap of the day and a reassurance that tomorrow we would be flying for sure.

We both felt a bit deflated after today, disappointed in the weather again with the strong wind, and the fact that John had now sprained his ankle. Went into town for a nice pizza and then chilled out back at the hotel for the afternoon, when I wrote the trip up on the blog. So, looking forward to tomorrow, hoping that John's ankle has recovered enough for his first flight.

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