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First Flight in 5 Months


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So.. monday morning 22nd , blue skies and low wind. Yet again, I cursed lockdown and wondered when we'd be allowed to fly again. I went to the BHPA site to see what the latest news was - only the read that as far as they are concerned we were ok to fly from 8th March !!!

It looked great at 8.30am but stuff can change, and it's not exactly been dry recently so I figured best get up early - a quick run around to get a charged gopro battery, double check I've not forgotten soemthing I need (ever got to the field and realised your helmet is at home?) - and off I went to the field.

Conditions lovely there - nice smooth 5-6mph SW coming in. Wind sock up, and set up paramotor. I never bother about 'stale fuel' so the 5 litres in the tank has been in there for the last 5 months. I top it up to 8 litres (always fly with 8 'just in case'). This will be first flight starting with my 6s lipo and relay - it's only 4 degrees, so though probably now not recessary, the battery was disconnected before I left homme and stuffed down my pants and is still there warming up. I've got lots of laters on and my Dickies suit over the top, balaclava, thin gloves, and another thick set to put on over the top of em once Im in the air, so should be toasty.

Wing out, double check I've got everything and walk motor over to wing. Only now, get battery out and fit it.

After priming, air conception starts no problem at all - and so much more positively with the 6s. By the time engine has warmed up, wind has moved round a bit to the south, so I move my wind sock a bit, and go back to lay out wing, check lines, and connect for forward launch.

First flight in 5 months so a bit nervous I'm rushing things - so calm down, go through everything again in my head and step back for a good positive inflation.

A push forward and my dudek ReportAir 22 pops up, 3 steps forward and I'm in the air. After a second or two of not really lifting much (top of a hill) , it climbs up nicely.

Woohoo 5 dry months over. I can't fly SW really or I hit a MATZ, so though not ideal, I head downwind and travel east to Ipswich, turning 360 a few times to guage the wind at various altitudes, but stay below 1000 feet as it's cold enough frankly.

I skirt to the south of Ipswich at 1200 feet or so and head over to the Orwell Bridge and along the river Orwell, popping over a few mates' houses but they don't see me, and I decide to draw the line at buzzing them or farting around with trying to whatsapp em. By now, I can sense the wind has crept up a bit to 10mph or so, and clouds are forming quite quickly so I decide to head back, skirting north of Ipswich this time, but at around 600 feet and clear of the built up area as it's getting pretty damn bumpy.

Making around 15 mph, but sometimes as low as 10 and really getting chucked around by the thermals. Nothing clean - all bitty stuff - lots of maybe 3000 cloud base little cumulus bursting up. I consider going onto speedbar, but I'm in no rush, and it's bumpy, but not dangerously so - just try to stay clear of dark ground.

It stays about the same all the way back, but the wind building a little. By the time I get back to the field the sock is straight out - maybe 12-14mph. As field is top of a hill, I go for a few engine-on low passes just to see what the air is like - it's definately lower pressure/windier at top of hill in last 50 feet or so.

I play it safe - much prefer landing up hill than downhill (it's not that much of a hill), and come in for landing. sure enough, the wind drops my forward speed off in the last 50 feet, but rather that than get a lull in the wind and end on the down slope - and I land 100 feet or so from the motorhome.

Just as I'm walking back to the car John, a local flier turns up - he'd seen me flying. We have a chat about how he was thinking of going up (again first time in 5-6 months), but by the time he'd decided the wind had gotten up - looks like I was right to get up as early as I could. We chat about paramotors, wings. He has a go walking about with my air conception, and ground handling my reportAir.

I say goodbye, pack the motor and wing up and head home (remembering to pick up the wind sock just as I drive away).

Feels like life is returing to normal again. It can't come soon enough.

stu

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