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MattMc

Ready? Steady? Here we go again.

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I was so inspired by the training blogs that I decided to start one of my own. Not to get too far off topic I feel it might be worth giving a little of the history that led me here.


I went on a 5 day glider course when I was 21 and loved it. Sadly I didn't have the financial ability to keep up with it and so let it go.
Fast forward 25 years and my son is an air cadet, flying every weekend and well on the way to his solo flight. After one year is is ready to go on the solo course but its too late in the season. Year two the cadets decide he cant go solo because they have increased the minimum age. Year three he is booked on a course and less than a week before he goes cadets suspend all flying indefinitely!

My son was destroyed! So upset! It was horrific to see as a dad. I promised him I would make it right. It took over a year but I got us into the only club in Cornwall and off we went together. What fun! Weather and other commitments meant we struggled to get as much flying in as we wanted to but I was learning fast and my son was just great. We decided to go on a course for a week to push us on.
Amazing both go solo and its all on. Back home the club we belong to is really struggling to get us in the air and over time my son goes off to Uni and joins another club and I just drift away from gliding again. It was a combination of things but mostly the need for a team to get you in the air on top of every other constraint.

I discovered solo hot air balloons and the idea of being able to fly on my own was fabulous. Sadly learning to fly balloons while living in Cornwall is really hard and it turns out solo balloons are for very experienced pilots so once again Im unable to get up in the air. I am still going to do training flights but its a long term project now.

Once again it was my son to the rescue "Im thinking about paramotoring dad" he says "check this out"

HOLD THE FRONT DOOR! I can take off from home, explore the beauty of Cornwall and land right back at home without the need for another living soul. Better than that I can fly with my son as soon as he learns and get home from his year in New Zealand! This is it.

Better even than all of that after I speak to a few people it turns out you lot are pretty cool. There seems to be a lot less bullshit in the paramotor world than in other forms of flying.

I have found and booked what I believe you cal a "Zero to Hero" course in Spain with Steve from Wales. He has been great in the run up to the course (end of this month) with loads of advice on what I will and won't need to buy. No pressure to buy kit from him but the opportunity to if that suits.

I am lucky enough to have a decent (not limitless) budget so the world is sort of my oyster. So far I have committed to buying a nearly new parajet Maverick and decided that the wing for me is a dudek universal 1.1 if I cant find a nearly new one today!!!! I will order a new one tomorrow along with a reserve a helmet and a box full of much needed widgets and gadgets!

All of my new toys are going to Spain so that I can get using the kit I intend to develop my flying with ASAP. I want to avoid coming home to either no kit and a massive confidence sapping delay as well as coming home to a big box of kit that is all new and unknown to me.

My plan so far is to get to Spain, learn as much as I can, get in the sky a bit, learn a lot more and then come home so I can use every little weather window to slowly develop my skills.
Did I mention that I am lucky enough to be almost retired and live on a small holding with a decent launch field 1 minutes walk from my front door?

I am grown up enough to know that the course is very much a tiny step and that I won't come back a pilot. I am very much looking forward to the Cornwall fly in and hope to be good enough to fly in from home and maybe fly here with a few new friends for a tea and cake pitstop!

I hope you lot will be totally honest with me and feel free to point out flaws in my plan and to suggest anything you feel might be useful

I will try and do blog updates as I put my kit together and while I am in Spain.

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Sounds like a great plan to me. 
I had at few gliding lessons at 16 and always wanted to do something flying. It wasn’t until 2012 I watched bobby Frankham fly off around Loch Ness I knew what to do. Took me another 6 years to be able to do it financially. 
Been almost a year now and loved every minute, the training and learning, thevv BC flying and the loads of new friends with the same addiction. 
I enjoy filling in my blog on here for myself and to encourage others. We all learn at different places and hopefully my learning will encourage others. 
good luck, see you at the fly-in maybe🙂

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Sounds like a plan to me and I can empathise with the frustrations of trying to fly when young. You’re lucky you have the land to fly out of your backdoor. Some of us have to drive! 
 

Good luck and see you at the fly in. 

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Matt that's a fantastic post and most excellent plan. You seem to have heeded all the general advice for a newbie. I do hope the weather plays ball and you can progress at more than a snails pace when you get back from Spain.

Yes and we are all cool dudes.

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49 minutes ago, alan_k said:

Matt that's a fantastic post and most excellent plan. You seem to have heeded all the general advice for a newbie. I do hope the weather plays ball and you can progress at more than a snails pace when you get back from Spain.

Yes and we are all cool dudes.

I am so afraid of the weather but as I have a field outside my door and Im available almost every morning and evening I am hopeful that I can at least maximise whats possible.

 

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After Spain you are still welcome to come to Davidstow if you're unsure and just want to fly with others until you get your confidence up or just come up and fly with us.  

Tony

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1 hour ago, asquaddie said:

After Spain you are still welcome to come to Davidstow if you're unsure and just want to fly with others until you get your confidence up or just come up and fly with us.  

Tony

Thats a really kind offer Tony! I am sure I will take you up on it.

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At first a piece of land looks like a postage stamp from above, but an airfield's like an A4 piece of flat paper :-)

Don't be a Hero too quick to!

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As a newbie, obviously I am keen for any new information and therefore have to check this forum at least a few times a day. 
If anyone has other forums or pages they would recommend please let me know.
This morning began with the delightful post regarding mortality in paragliding....

Lucky for me I am both brave and cautious with a finely developed sense of my own fragility coupled with a strong desire to see tomorrow.

My later grandmother gave me the following mantra and I have tried to live my life by it

"Never stick a finger somewhere you wouldn't stick your dick"

Todays job is to try and decide on the best value / safest reserve, decide howe much to spend on an alt vario, look at nav, notam, metar apps for the iPhone and try and find a decent one. I would welcome any input other forum members would like to share.

Have a lovely day.

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You can postpone the purchase of a reserve. Your instructor will only be sending you up in benign conditions whilst training.

If that's not the case I would consider changing your instructor. Some pilots don't fly with a reserve, me included, it's all about choosing when not to fly. I would probably be classed as a cautious pilot regarding flying conditions.

I you have a doubt about whether to fly err on the don't fly side. I prefer to think about flying tomorrow rather than lying in a hospital bed. I will abort if the wind is too switchy, knowing if I really wanted to I could get airbourne. I have been to the field once and decided I just didn't feel up to it, no specific reason, so went home.

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3 hours ago, alan_k said:

You can postpone the purchase of a reserve. Your instructor will only be sending you up in benign conditions whilst training.

If that's not the case I would consider changing your instructor. Some pilots don't fly with a reserve, me included, it's all about choosing when not to fly. I would probably be classed as a cautious pilot regarding flying conditions.

I you have a doubt about whether to fly err on the don't fly side. I prefer to think about flying tomorrow rather than lying in a hospital bed. I will abort if the wind is too switchy, knowing if I really wanted to I could get airbourne. I have been to the field once and decided I just didn't feel up to it, no specific reason, so went home.

I totally understand and agree with you 100% regarding weather conditions. I rather like the idea of a reserve just to cover off any non weather issues.

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Big day today...Wing and paramotor are paid for and on the way. Im not going to lie this has all just got very real and Im giddy as a kitten.

Im going to use school helmet etc while I keep looking for the right kit for me.

I would love to hear from you experienced pilots regarding gear. Helmets, gloves, boots etc.

I am thinking some wind proof trousers with reinforced knees?

5 days until Spain........

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So day 1.......

Holy cow my legs are sore! Lots of learning regarding pre flight checks etc. More learning regarding design, construction and maintenance of wings, harnesses and motors. Wow so many mnemonics! Will Geordie Have His Cat Aboard Today? ha ha ha

Mostly however today will be remembered as the day I ran further than I have run in years (fat lazy twat) and the day I found out that kiting is way, way, way harder than it looks.

Forward launches feel intuitive and natural ( I need to get way better  but I get it ) reverse launches and kiting feels like trying to think in Spanish, answer in Chineses while listening to an American auctioneer sell cows! Please tell me my legs will get stronger and that my brain will be able to make my hands do the right things to keep that bloody wing in the air!

Loving it so far people.

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All of a sudden it will click and you’ll have some control. I was running up and down the field for 4-5 hours none stop in my first couple of lessons but it got easier once I started to feel the wing. It will come quicker than you realise. Keep it up 🙂

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So today was a totally different day. I arrived a bit worried and feeling like it might be a few more days before ground handling made any sense at all bit after a few more coaching sessions I feel like I made really good progress. Setting the wing and me up for a launch seems natural now, forward launches are way better after today and I even managed to kite the bloody thing!

Better than that, towards the end of the day I reverse launched the wing, kited for a decent time, turned forward, ran forwards, span back to reverse and kited again, spun to forwards, fared, turned and landed the wing. TWICE!

Not exactly flying yet (its only been two days!) but it feels like I made good progress.

Things have been made way easier by having a really good bunch of lads on the course, including my new mate Ian who I believe has now joined the forum. Dont tell him I said his ground handling is way better than mine because he might get big headed LOL Oh dont tell him thats because he had an easier wing or he will call me a liar!

Tomorrow is a whole new day and I really hope I make as much progress as today and that at least one of the more experienced P.I.T. gets airborne. 

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Sorry Ive been a little quiet but its been a little busy around here.

I am packing tonight to fly home to the UK after two very interesting, challenging, chaotic, testing and enjoyable weeks.

Have I flown? Yes. Can I fly.....um Im feeling pretty good about progress but certainly not close to confident by any means.

It feels important to try and give an accurate description of the time I have spent here, the lessons I have learned so far about flying paramotors,  the experience of learning to fly overseas and the reality compared to my expectations.

Number one, the weather in Spain has extended the amount of work you can fit into a short period of time much higher.
Plus side is you learn more, down side is that you had better be fit or you will really suffer (more on that later)

Two, the scenery from high above this part of Spain is stunning with clear blue sky allowing miles and miles of visibility
Down side could be seen as the amount of messy air mountains cause and the issue of thermals though the middle of the day.
Learning in cold still air might not be as good for your tan but might well extend the hours available for training.

Three the people. I have met some of the best guys ever over the last two weeks and I am really looking forward to seeing them again later in the year so we can see how far each of us has progressed. I did think a few times how hard it would be, away from home if I have been here for this long with less amazing course mates. No Mrs or mates to go home to would make that hard.

Four Reliability of kit. I am really bloody glad I made the daft / brave call to buy the parajet before I got here. If you are off the beaten track kit issues can eat into a days training really quickly and take away your opportunity to learn about flying. Plus side would be a course in mechanics for anyone unfamiliar with how engines work and what tools are for.

Five ground handling. If you are even thinking about a course with no ground handling experience get your bumps felt! Its way harder than it looks and will eat into your time away like nothing else. Buy a harness and a cheap old wing, grab a willing local expert (not a youtube video) and get as much practice in as you can. I spent a good few days being dragged around by an angry table cloth when I could have been making way better use of the instructors skills! Remember when I said you need to be fit? I shit you not bear wrestling would be easier than three whole days of ground handling! i have never been so beaten up, bruised and knackered!

Six. Strings! I know thats not what they are called but thats what Im going to call them until I master them. If you have no real ability to be methodical in your packing away, no desire to quietly spend what feels like hours knitting a set of lines and you find the idea of being laughed at when your instructor shows you for the tenth time that pulling this line through here and flicking this over there means your twenty minutes of macrame wasn't actually needed then you really really really need to get some practice in before you start. I think at least a day over the last two weeks could have been put to really good use if I had even  basic prior cats cradle experience.

Seven. Paragliding. Im not sure how this will go down but having been here for two weeks I rather wish I had been in a position to have done at least two days paragliding training before I came to Spain. Ive seen first hand just how valuable that is by watching how many steps other students were ahead of me from day one.

Eight. Joy! The joy of my first flight will live with me forever. Nothing prepared me for that feeing as the wing loads, the harness starts to lean on the back of your legs and ten steps later you are up and away! 

Nine. Fear. I have seen a few guys in the last two weeks "get the fear" I would beg you experienced guys to try your hardest to find ways of sharing learning experiences that dont involve the words "He will be alright in the end" or "shame really he was a really nice bloke" I know we are all boys and spinning a yarn is part of the fun but pretending to be blasé about accidents in front of brand new pilots just adds a layer of concern that isnt healthy.

Ten. Be realistic. Ive done two weeks. Im physically exhausted, mentally drained and Im not as far along as I intended to be. Dont put pressure on yourself to hit goals just push on as comfortably as you can, take each step in your stride and enjoy the process rather than focusing on the endgame.

Im looking forward to getting home to my wonderful wife tomorrow and I cant wait to get to meet the Cornish massive for the next step on my flying adventure.

OK thats it for now, Sorry if this is boring, old news, self absorbed, indulgent or just bullshit. I would love some feedback on my opinions as well as any questions. I will add a bit more actual detail regarding what Ive done so far as soon as I processed it myself.

Stay safe you hear!

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1 hour ago, asquaddie said:

Honest Cornish statement with no word of a pasty.

Can't wait to meet you and take you further into your dreams.

Tony

Im a little intimidated by the thought of flying with experienced people but also very excited at gaining skills. Im back in Cornwall tomorrow, subject it not having blown away, my motor and wing are being shipped and will be with me in a week. Bring on a clear calm day and new Cornish flying friends!

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Very honest report, well done on your progress.

One big thing to remember is never feel pressured, whether from other people or from yourself. You're going to continue learning for years to come, so just take it easy and at a pace that works for you. Excess anxiety doesn't help anything. And remember, you never have to fly - you can just come back another day when you feel it's right. 

Were you with Steve Griffiths in Spain? 

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