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Dazman. Training blog.


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My first afternoon of training...

Met Simon, top friendly bloke, keen as anything to share his knowledge. He Zoomed off home to grab a training wing for me to ground handle, (because I called late) and left me with Colin, who was to show me how to use the ‘for real’ wing in the meantime…

Colin, also top bloke, (slightly heavier than a feather) proceeded to show me, (slightly heavier than a hippo) how to use his own wing, Colin showed me carefully and patiently how to ground handle the chute, (sorry, wing), looked at my blank non comprehending face and bravely plugged me in to his precious wing anyway. I found the ‘doing’, brought his words crashingly and resoundingly to life, as I realised he was pleasantly competent and effective in his explanations of how it all worked.

I learned the importance of building a ‘wall’ so I could allow all the cells in the wing to gulp in air and inflate as I pulled the ‘A’ risers.

Learned what ‘thermic activity’ was, watched and felt it before my eyes, very cool… could look up and blame a specific cloud for my last a*se over t*t experience.

Simon returns with training wing and massively cute tiny dog, then watches, impressed I think, that Colin has managed to get me raising the wing in a fairly competent manner, and possibly revises that thinking as the next thermal tips me out of my boots…

I learn to stay 'under the dot’ not by hopping around like a gazelle, causing the wing to distort, but to make good use of the brakes and to glide rather than hop. Simon and Colin tell me for the eightieth time not to hold both brakes down as I raise the wing, and to lift the opposite brake as pull down on the other. Gradually it starts to sink in.

Simon proceeds to make tea in the MPV equivalent of the starship Enterprise, while simultaneously explaining air maps, meteorology, wing dynamics, and air law, I try to squeeze my features into a semblance of comprehension… Nice tea though.

Big Ernie’s strong Northern accent is immediately understood by Simons cute terrier who proceeds to make best friends with him.

We have tea and Simon pulls out the ‘small’ 30kg motor from the back of the Enterprise (he tells me I will need the big one!) I can tell this is a man with great experience, and great respect for these pretty scary machines.

As he shows me how it works and demonstrates the power generated by the propeller, I suddenly have an inkling of what it may be like to be hundreds of feet in the air with one of these monsters strapped to your back, a gentle wave of fear rolls up my spine, topped by a white horse of adrenaline.

Simon is oblivious to my realisation, but his enthusiastic rendition of flying at a few thousand feet enthralled by the sight of an ‘inversion’ below him, makes me grin in anticipation .

We get the training wing out and I realise immediately that it is both easier and harder than Colin’s 26ft wing… Colin’s is stable and calm but powerful, a pachyderm of the sky.

The training wing is baby tiger, lighter and easier, but taking each tendril of thermic activity and tossing it into the air like a ball of wool, pouncing to catch it.

Simon gleefully tells me this is the best weather to learn in, much better than all that dull straight forward weather you get on balmy summer days! I find myself grudgingly believing him as I’m hooked out of my boots again.

The weather changes for the worse and training ends. I am both pleased because I can feel blisters developing in my boots, and sorry because I love to meet people who are enthusiastic and passionate about their sport or hobby.

Simon feels that if I get hooked, I might want to consider ordering my equipment sooner rather than later.

Well, I can already feel the barb pulling at my cheek…

Thanks Simon and Colin for a great introduction to paramotor ing!

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Hi Daz, from your "Blog" it looks like you have been hooked by the sport and the adrenaline flow it produces. I bet you have all the kit and had a few circuits under your belt by the end of next month.

Good luck on your training, you can't go far wrong with Simon and Colin and perhaps will see you around Lambourn eventually

Fly safe

Regards Mike :D:D:D

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You're hooked mate ;-)

Welcome to the club and the sport. Don't worry about the thermals whipping you off your feet. The first time that motor spits you off the ground you'll realise that there is nothing quite like it.

The other thing that happens is you spend all day looking at the sky working out if it is flyable or not. My wife keeps telling me to look at the b****y road not the clouds ;-)

See you on the field some time soon.

Stuart

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Hi Daz,

Glad you enjoyed the day. Really enjoyed reading your training blog and although getting in the air might feel a million miles away to you it wont be too long before its just a few steps with the right input's on the steering lines and throttle and you'll be there.

See you on the field for another crack at those blisters.

Cheers Col...

P.S. its 26 square meters not feet afraid you'll have to go metric for flying except for height which is usually always in feet and is a different measurement from altitude which can be in feet, meters or barametric pressure depending . Oh and speed which can be in KPH or Knots or MPH or m/sec or f/sec see easy :shock::D .

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You're hooked mate ;-)

Welcome to the club and the sport. Don't worry about the thermals whipping you off your feet. The first time that motor spits you off the ground you'll realise that there is nothing quite like it.

The other thing that happens is you spend all day looking at the sky working out if it is flyable or not. My wife keeps telling me to look at the b****y road not the clouds ;-)

See you on the field some time soon.

Stuart

Ha ha, I know what you mean! gives a new meaning to 'head in the clouds' :) look forward to meeting you at some point.

Daz

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Hi Daz,

Glad you enjoyed the day. Really enjoyed reading your training blog and although getting in the air might feel a million miles away to you it wont be too long before its just a few steps with the right input's on the steering lines and throttle and you'll be there.

See you on the field for another crack at those blisters.

Cheers Col...

P.S. its 26 square meters not feet afraid you'll have to go metric for flying except for height which is usually always in feet and is a different measurement from altitude which can be in feet, meters or barametric pressure depending . Oh and speed which can be in KPH or Knots or MPH or m/sec or f/sec see easy :shock::D .

Cheers Colin.

Looking forward to next time! :D

Thanks for the technical info I think I retained that for a good three seconds! :?

Daz

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Well, it’s a week later, same day, same place, both Simon and Colin have already been for a fly today, and I’m sorry I missed it.

In the midst of his first day of training is John from Cornwall, looking decidedly hot and sweaty but obviously enjoying himself.

Simon asks how well I remember last training session,

“well” I said,

far to confidently it turns out.

Today I was rapidly to learn, don’t stand on the strings, ever… ever.

Ever.

Especially someone else’s! :twisted:

Also when someone is trying to help you lay out your wing be mindful of what they’re doing, both so you don’t hinder their efforts, and so you can be of help to others in setting their wings out prior to flight.

I still find it really difficult to figure out whether the risers are twisted or not as they are clipped into the harness, and am flummoxed by Colin and Simons ability to do this effortlessly.

After a couple of goes practising a reverse launch with reasonable success it’s time try forward launching, this is probably how I will bring the wing up when I have the motor on my back. It’s patiently explained to me that having the wing set up carefully and properly into the wind ready for the forward launch is of paramount importance, if I want to avoid lumbering around with a 30 kg motor on my back prior to flying.

I’m carefully coached by Colin on the theory of forward launching, then there’s nothing left but to give it a go, of course I fail miserably having done less than fifty percent of what he told me to do, but as ever, the doing is the biggest learning curve. I try again and do better. Then Simon takes over and gives me a few more tips, before I know it I’m running like hell, Simons running with me giving me a good shove and suddenly my feet are off the ground! Whey hay!

Within a few yards I’m on the ground again trying to figure out how to bring the wing down in a controlled way, ha ha... Simon carefully unwraps me from his brand new prize training wing. Sigh.

We have a break and simon decides that he could probably have a fly, so as he kits up Colin shows John and myself a map that has been scribbled all over by a five year old, shockingly I realise this is not the case at all, it’s actually an air space/zones map. John seems to understand it but it seems to me it should be in the Tate modern entitled ‘geography undone’ I glance over at Simon carefully laying out the wing ready for flight, now this looks interesting!

Within a few minutes I watch delighted, as Simon roars of into the air, circles around and disappears over the hill. I cant believe I might be doing that within a few days training!

I spend the rest of the afternoon practising my forward launch learning that the ways to cock it up are infinite, but figuring out a bit more each time.

Still thoroughly enjoying myself! Thanks again Simon and Colin. :D

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  • 1 month later...

Session 3 Thurs 22nd may 2-5pm

Ok, so in my last session I spent my time trying to do forward launches, and/or doing a reverse launch and then turning to run and trying to hop.

This session the wind is a bit more vigorous and I’m back to trying to get the wing up in a reverse launch position, then control it while its up there. I’m becoming more confident with building the wall, using the A risers to bring the wing up and then controlling it with the brake lines. But unfathomably I now seem programmed to pull the wing up, then turn, Simon stares at me aghast and asks why I’ve turned in this fairly strong wind? I stare dumbly at him and mumble something like “dunno, fink I’m programmed wrong” Then I do it again… I think I might have seen some steam coming out of his ears, but then it was a bit chilly…

Anyway, I manage to de-programme myself and with a reasonable wind, I can start to get the wing up and begin to keep it there for a few seconds, ah ha, I’m starting to figure out this left brake down right brake up, both brakes up, stay under the dot, blah blah blah stuff now.

Then for some inexplicable reason I turn into the forward launch position again, the wing drops slightly and the strong breeze whips me off my feet and drags me like a Mexican bandits prisoner, face first across the scrub and nettles and stones and prickles, lacerating, scraping and bruising me . Simon rushes over with concern etched into his face, checks the wing, then visibly relaxes and tells me its ok, there’s no damage. He looks at me spitting mud and nettles out of my mouth and tells me again that when the wind is quite strong it’s best to do reverse launch ground handling… Sigh. Lesson learned. :oops:

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Session 3 Thurs 22nd may 2-5pm

Ok, so in my last session I spent my time trying to do forward launches, and/or doing a reverse launch and then turning to run and trying to hop.

This session the wind is a bit more vigorous and I’m back to trying to get the wing up in a reverse launch position, then control it while its up there. I’m becoming more confident with building the wall, using the A risers to bring the wing up and then controlling it with the brake lines. But unfathomably I now seem programmed to pull the wing up, then turn, Simon stares at me aghast and asks why I’ve turned in this fairly strong wind? I stare dumbly at him and mumble something like “dunno, fink I’m programmed wrong” Then I do it again… I think I might have seen some steam coming out of his ears, but then it was a bit chilly…

Anyway, I manage to de-programme myself and with a reasonable wind, I can start to get the wing up and begin to keep it there for a few seconds, ah ha, I’m starting to figure out this left brake down right brake up, both brakes up, stay under the dot, blah blah blah stuff now.

Then for some inexplicable reason I turn into the forward launch position again, the wing drops slightly and the strong breeze whips me off my feet and drags me like a Mexican bandits prisoner, face first across the scrub and nettles and stones and prickles, lacerating, scraping and bruising me . Simon rushes over with concern etched into his face, checks the wing, then visibly relaxes and tells me its ok, there’s no damage. He looks at me spitting mud and nettles out of my mouth and tells me again that when the wind is quite strong it’s best to do reverse launch ground handling… Sigh. Lesson learned. :oops:

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  • 2 months later...

Session 4 Sun 1st June, afternoon.

Right, this afternoon has been quite good, I’m becoming more familiar with things, the strings or risers are becoming less scary, like Colin says, as long as they stay clipped to your harness, things really cant get to tangled I’ve also learned from him that even with only a small portion of the front vents showing, if there is a reasonable breeze, you can use your ‘A’s’ to unfurl the whole wing and build the wall.

I seem more able to confidently get the wing up and able to keep it there for a while, Simon showed me some tricks for turning a wing upright if it lands upside down (which it seems to do quite a lot) it’s quite a skill though, and he makes what appears to be impossible for me look relatively easy.

The wind is a little weak, but it enables me to start practising the forward launches again, I’m gradually getting the hang of it. Main factors are when running, keep the brakes up high, I naturally pull them down. Also when running, as your speed gets up, increase the length of your stride and try and keep it smooth so the wing doesn’t bounce. Good afternoon, I think.

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Session 5. Mon morn 2nd June 10 am till 1pm

I talked to Simon, and he informed me that it was ‘perfect weather’ for practising what I was trying to learn yesterday, ie reverse launch, turn, run and as I feel my weight coming off the ground pull the brakes down to give the wings some lift and then ‘hop’ this gives him a few seconds to instruct me while in flight, in preparation for landing and controlling the wing in flight.

I learn that if I pull the brakes to hard the wing can come over my head and in front of me, or I can stall it completely. I need to keep my hands up when I’m running and also try and run into the wind, even if the wing wants to take me off in some other direction.

As the weather deteriorates a little I go back to basic ground handling. I’m gradually becoming more and more familiar with how it all works, but the moment I start getting cocky it all goes tits up and Simon or Colin explain more to me about thermals or wind patterns that help me understand what happened.

Simon tells me that next session he’s going to get me doing the ground handling with the motor and prop on my back, possibly with it running… gulp.

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session 6. Tues afternoon 10th June. 2 till 5.30 pm

There are a lot of things I really like about the Berkshire/ wiltshire para-motoring club, firstly everyone I’ve met so far have been great, friendly people, keen to help, pass on their knowledge or just have a friendly chat.

Like any organisation, the atmosphere within comes from the top down. Simon is enthusiastic, always keen jovial and good natured in his teaching and his jibes. Colin is unassuming, good humoured but knowledgeable and patient with his teaching.

But what I also like is that when it comes down to it, this is a serious and potentially very dangerous sport, and Simon takes it VERY seriously when it comes to safety. He knows every aspect of what he’s teaching both mechanically and technique wise, he quite rightly has no patience with cutting corners or taking un-necessary risks, or with not preparing properly. I find this very reassuring.

So this is the guise I find him in for my first attempt at ground handling with a para-motor on my back. I’m carefully taken through the safety and starting mechanisms for the motor, then once again through the preparation of the wing, safety checks for the lines and carabenas and harness etc.

Then he shows me how to hoike the 30kg motor and harness onto my back, holy shmoly! It seems to weigh a bloody ton! And on top of that I’ve now got a chunky throttle in my hand as well as the brake and the A riser! First of all I try to ground handle with the engine off, I feel like a turtle on valium, everything seems to be twice as hard as it was, I immediately cock up the lift of the wing and land in a crumpled heap, all motor, strings and wing. The straps of the harness with the motor attached are cutting into my shoulders with the relish of a hungry vampire. Simon helps me untangle, gives me some more tips, and I try again, I do a little better, but still rubbish. Suddenly everything I’ve learned seems to have gone down the drain, both Simon and Colin remain patient and I guess it’s not uncommon at this stage for a student to become pathetic. I try again and once more it’s a little better, but by this time my shoulders are killing me, Simon wisely suggests I have a cup of tea and a rest.

It’s explained to me that of course when doing the real thing, (as opposed to training) the wing is laid out perfectly into wind, raised with a reverse or forward launch, a few short steps, full throttle and, with the wing taking the weight of the motor, up you go. Toddling around like a demented tortoise for hours on end with the full weight of the motor on your back is a treat meant only for the aspiring student para-motorist. Ah, the joy.

So, one cup of tea later and Si’ says that this time we’re going to do it with the motor running! Visions of amputated limbs and flying broken props spring to mind, and a certain sphincter spasms wildly. Trying to maintain my cool calm turtelian exterior, I squeak, “are you sure?!”

Before I know it, I’m strapped in, wing laid out, strings tested, A lines free and clear, and instructions ringing in my head along the lines of “if it all goes wrong press the RED button” I nervously note that my thumb seems very unlikely to reach the red button, but I nod dumbly anyway.

“CLEAR, PROP!” The prepped motor starts and I go for a forward launch, which of course went as well as a double decker bus into a pond. Somehow, my wildly panicking thumb found the red button, and Simon wasn’t screaming, so I guessed it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

I try again and actually make a semblance of a reasonable launch. A couple more goes and again my shoulders and back are screaming, but I’m not dismembered, I count this as a serious bonus. I finished at this point, and learned again how to pack away the wing.

As a footnote for future students, I made two serious mistakes today…

1. I wore shorts…. Hot sun, nettles and giant prickles make this a seriously bad idea when training.

2. I asked Simon if he had any nettle rash cream, this was a bit like asking Attila the Hun if he would sing you a little lullaby so’s you could sleep.

I suspect I may never live it down.

Live and learn.

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Session 7 All day Saturday approx june 21st

Well, I cant remember this day greatly I just know that I spent most of the day on a Saturday about two months ago running around with the heavy motor on my back mostly running with the prop turning, I remember the wind was blowing down the hill on which we were practising which meant that taking off was quite a difficult thing, as the ground was rising at the same rate/angle at which you would normally take off. Simon decided that this therefore was not a good day for my first flight, however there was no harm in practising, so aaalll day I ran up the hill with the motor on my back raising my wing either in a forward launch or reverse launch and turning and running like bugger, shouting ‘POWER’ when I felt it was the right time to press full throttle which would in theory send me soaring into the skies.

Somehow my shoulders adapted (or became completely numb, I’m not sure which) and the motor became lighter.

Later in the day I watched Colin take off and go for a fly, that observation turned out to contain one of the most important lessons that I would need in the future.

When Colin returned, I had laughingly commented on how his matchsticks, (sorry, legs…) carried on running as he soared into the sky, like the proverbial cartoon character who has just run over the edge of a cliff. He seriously replied that there was no way he would ever stop running until he was certain that he was well in the air. Knowing he was a veteran of many near misses, with more lives than the average cat, I took him seriously.

By the end of the day I was getting the ‘power on’ right every time, my wing was controlled. Simon informed me smilingly that I was ‘ready’! My next session would include my first flight.

For the first time since I had started training, I actually believed that indeed this was possible for me. Little did I know the weather/life/work had other ideas…

It was to be almost two months to the day before I could get up on the field again.

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Session 8 Friday 22nd Aug’ afternoon 1-4pm

Simon is back from his real life adventure doing the tip to tip charity run, the six intrepid fund raisers have literally risked life and limb, flying in hellish conditions from the northern to the southern tip of Britain.

He is keen to get me into the air, but there are two problems… 1. The current choppy thermic non beginner flyable conditions, seem like angels sleepy breath to him after his last two weeks of flying, and 2. He is unaware of the tiny holding capacity my brain has in the memory section…

He tells me to go connect up to the wing, harness and motor laying far out in the delightfully newly cropped flat field that we can now use. I trot out to it, look dumbly, uncomprehendingly at the motor, the harness the mass of lines, My mind is blank. I panic, and trot back and sheepishly ask for the training harness, which mysteriously appears to be gone. So I swallow my pride and ask Colin if he will take me through the basics once more. As ever he’s a star and takes me step by step through everything I’ve forgotten. Miraculously in a very short time I’m back up to speed, raising the wing in both forward and reverse launch, running and shouting ‘power’ at the correct time with the big ‘macro’ motor on my back, it’s huge petrol tank nearly full, re-acquainting my shoulders to the gruesome discomfort of this part of training

Thankfully, Simon decides that the weather which has deteriorated further is not suitable for my first flight, but tomorrow is looking good…

I’m delighted, my confidence has returned, as Colin says, it’s a bit like riding a bike, you really don’t forget it! If the weather does as promised tomorrow may be my first flight. I still don’t really believe it could happen, but I feel ready…

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Session 9. sat 23rd August 10-3pm

I woke up this morning and the sun was shining! I cautiously looked at my tree across the road, (my guide to wind conditions) he was standing quietly. I got that Cheshire cat feeling, and rushed to pack my ‘gliding bag’… drink, food, celebration??? Cake, spare T shirts, boots etc, Savlon…

When I arrived I got a slight sinking feeling as I observed the clouds forming on every horizon, but a grinning Simon informed me all was well so far…

He had a new (well, used as in the recent tip to tip flight) wing, a 28’ span ‘fatboy’ wing, he said, delicately referring to my heavy bones.

I’m to go through the same routine as yesterday, just re-acquainting myself with the process of raising the wing running and shouting power. It all seems to go well. After a few goes I’m completely knackered again. Simon says its time for a cup of tea, and we’re going to watch Colin take off to get a measure of the now rapidly increasing thermic conditions as the clouds creep closer. He’s expressing some mild concern about this, as far as it being my first flight and all. To make matters worse Colin sways wildly as he ascends rapidly to several hundred feet. I feel a mild apprehension creeping on, but as he increases height, he seems to settle and Simon relaxes a little. I find that in my head, I’ve committed myself to flying… If it is at all possible, I want to go for it today!

Colin returns and reports that it’s a little bumpy up there, but pretty ok. Simon takes me to the top of the hill to prepare, he tells me that I’m to do two dry runs, with the motor running and then we are going to go for it!

From connecting the harness to the wing, getting into the harness, getting the wing into wind and the wall built etc, Simon says he’s not going to help or tell me anything, he’s just going to observe and let me know if I do anything wrong.

Of course I immediately start cocking every thing up, he has to connect the wing to the harness for me and help me fix the straps around my ‘MacDonald legs’ (more delicate referrals to my slightly chunky thighs…) Soon I’m up and making more cock ups with raising the wing, the huge motor and prop on my back powering round on tickover gently forcing me forward all the time. Simon is uncharacteristically patient and helpful and my confidence builds as I finally get the wing up in reverse launch, turn run and power up all in the correct order!

I quickly do the same again, and he says to rest while he goes to get some water, then we’ll go through a pre flight brief…

I thankfully sit down with the harness and motor still on as He trots off to get some water, I’m feeling the thermals washing over me, the sunshine burning my arms, I’m breathing and only allowing positive thoughts to pass through my head. At this point it hasn’t occurred to me that this is also a very tense time for Simon, There are any number of things that could go wrong, this is slightly less than optimal conditions, and at the end of the day I am his responsibility. As he returns with water he is positive and encouraging showing non of his concerns, in retrospect I am thankful.

So, pre flight brief. I sip water as we talk about take off, I’m to run, and as I get up speed I take longer and longer steps and keep running while throttling up to full power, images of Colins legs running madly in mid air come to mind along with his words, and I nod.

Then we talk about flight plan, in detail Simon goes through the simple route I’m to take and how I’m to go mostly in a clockwise circle that will take me out and over the valley, I take in the distance and still cant believe that I will be doing it shortly. Then I’m to circle the landing field before coming in against the wind for landing.

For landing Simon is going to be standing in the middle of the field giving clear hand signals which I’m to mirror using my brakes to turn and slow etc, it’s important that I look at him all the time and not the ground. All being well, I will gently alight in the field before him, triumphant as I expertly turn and lower the wing. Alas that was not to be the case…

Before I know it my helmet is back on, my motor is running, my wing is up, I’ve turned and I’m running like bugger, Simon running beside me shouting instructions, at the right moment I increase the throttle and rapidly spinning prop heaves me powerfully forward, I increase my stride length and keep running. What happens next will probably stay with me forever….

My feet are in the air! The ground is ten feet below me! Then twenty then fifty! I look down at the sheep and cows in the fields below, hidden from my take off point over the crest of the hill, for some reason all I’m thinking is how green the grass is, and how nice it is that cows and sheep can co exist… Then the moment explodes into my consciousness, I’M FLYING!!!! I’m actually flying! I start whooping like a lunatic, my yells swallowed by the roar of the motor as it takes me higher and higher.

I realise that my legs are still hanging out of the seat of the harness and try to pull myself into it with limited success, the left strap grabbing hungrily onto my MacDonald leg. I realise that I’m supposed to be turning right, I tentatively pull on the right brake and nothing happens… I pull a bit harder and gradually the big wing begins to turn, my confidence builds as I realise that it will respond and I manage to turn out of the wind and to my right, heading towards the big valley.

I’ve finally managed to hoike myself into the seat and I’m grinning deliriously while staring at the ground far below me… way far below me!

I realise that my fingers have been gripped tightly around the throttle since take off and I’m now looking at something reminiscent of my old train set landscape. For some reason I’m fascinated by the different greens of the trees… I take some pressure off the throttle and wait to go down a bit, nothing happens…

Then all of a sudden I feel myself rapidly rising, suddenly the wing starts juddering, the vibrations creeping down the lines to gyrate over my back like snakes at a disco (what? Never seen snakes at a disco? You should get out more!) I inexplicably find a big grin sneaking across my face, I’m reminded of the ‘Hulk’ ride in Disney land Florida. Woo hoo! ( I find out later that I was actually only a couple of hundred feet below cloud base, and probably more than a thousand feet high!)

This was to happen a few more times during the flight, it was where thermals were catching me and lifting me higher, very exciting! I realised eventually that I could completely let the throttle go and I would gradually start to descend, I also realised that I should be turning more to the right if I was going to stay in the valley and head back towards our field, it was at this point that I felt my first wave of panic hit me…

in my admiration of the various colours and contours sweeping lazily under my feet, and the thrills of the choppy ride, I had completely lost my bearings, I suddenly realised that all the fields below me looked the same! I looked towards where our field should be, but there was nothing to distinguish it, I suddenly had visions of landing miles from anywhere with no way of finding my way back. As I wobbled and turned slightly a glint of sunlight off a windscreen told me where all our cars were parked. With a huge sigh of relief I started heading for them, experimenting with the throttle to see what lift or drop I could achieve, and started to think about my landing… From now on I will make sure I take very careful note of the various land marks when I fly.

Out over the valley, having got my bearings I descended some more, to find one of the most extraordinary sights! Flying over birds! Below me dozens of seagulls were gliding in flocks over the newly harvested brown fields, the combination of the sun on their white backs and their own shadow beneath them on the earth was mesmerising, almost like bubbles racing over the ground below me.

As I came towards our field to land the air became quite bumpy I was experiencing sudden drops and minor lifts and a fair bit of buffeting, but as far as I could tell it was all going according to plan, Simon was standing like a scarecrow in the middle of the field and I was carefully watching him. What I didn’t realise was that I was much lower than I thought, and as I came to the edge of the field all thoughts of Simon watching disappeared, my plan to switch off the motor as I was supposed to also disappeared, as I realised that I would have to flair the wing so as not splat into the ground, (like Colin says, ‘landing is easy, it’s just how hard you do it that takes some skill’)

Consequently I landed with the motor running, I’d managed to fully pull the brakes down and flair the wing so that I landed without breaking my legs, but I still hit the ground quite firmly and went straight to my knees with a bump. I was delighted that I’d done so without falling back onto the prop, and I very quickly managed turn the motor off. My delight was short lived though, as Simon informed me that the impact was still enough to have broken the ends of the prop off and slightly bent the cage, I was gutted. To his credit, Simon was nonplussed, he told me cheerfully that I’d done well and that it wasn’t a big deal. Gradually I felt my elation returning, Colin, Ian and Alan and all came over and congratulated me, I couldn’t keep the grin off my face…

A bit later, over celebration cake! I discovered I had made some fundamental mistakes on landing. Firstly I had descended to far to soon, then I had not turned the motor off, (if I had, even my bumpy landing wouldn’t have damaged the prop). And, I hadn’t gotten out of the seat! This strangely had never occurred to me! But of course had I landed properly I would have had no legs to stand on. Doh!

The last thing was that I was focusing on landing into the wind based on the way it was blowing when I took off, unfortunately the wind direction had changed and I should have come in from a different angle. If I had taken note of the wind sock I would have known this. Sigh. Live and learn.

But I had learned and lived! I survived the most amazing experience thanks to the ace instruction of Simon and Colin, I’m delighted to have them as instructors and thank them both profoundly for getting me to this stage of my paragliding.

What a day!

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in my admiration of the various colours and contours sweeping lazily under my feet, and the thrills of the choppy ride, I had completely lost my bearings, I suddenly realised that all the fields below me looked the same! I looked towards where our field should be, but there was nothing to distinguish it, I suddenly had visions of landing miles from anywhere with no way of finding my way back.

Well done Dazman, excellent stuff. Like the bit about losing your bearings as it's a familiar feeling but adds to the excitement :lol:

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