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Just opening the slot.

Due to start on Friday 10th and looking forward to it. Picked up the motor today and ran it on stand at Parajet with Gilo. Sweet sound the motor makes, throaty roar - the prop puts out a hefty buzz too.

Fingers crossed (all ten at the moment) for the weather.

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Gliding again. When I was a lad I crewed for the late Alfie Warminger with his Kestrel 19m ‘hotship’ glider. We went to the Nationals at Booker during the ’70s to help Alfie to compete. Whilst slaking a terrible thirst after a long, hot and sweaty retrieve, Alfie mentioned that the following day we would be having lunch with the UK gliding luminary and pioneer, Philip Wills.

We had a meagre snack as I recall but it didn’t matter, I spent most of it listening to this aging gent (he died in 1978) talking about gliding with an enthusiasm that washed away his years. He talked of the golden era of gliding when any cross country flight was a major achievement and people formed strong bonds cemented by a love of flight and the pleasure gained from helping each other into the air.

The meeting was impressive and pivotal in my aeronautical development, I have never forgotten it, nor what it meant to me at the time as I was starting out in my flying career.

Back to the present. The weather smiled upon us all and for Friday and Saturday we had near perfect flying conditions. Canopy handling, forward launch practice and towards the remains of the day, floundering around with forty kilos of motor on my back. This brought me to a level of happy exhaustion unvisited in my pink skin for a while. Probably just lack of fitness compounded by stumbling around the plowed launch site - but without the help of Simon, Terry and the indefatigable Colin, I can assure you - I would have expired by lunchtime.

As the day drew to a close and we rounded out with a set of forward launches with motor (sans noise). I realised, as did Simon, that I was in no condition to do much more than raise a beer glass and fight the cramp caused by dehydration. So we called it a day and retired to the ‘Rose and Crown’ for a spot of dinner and a few sherbets to ease the pain. A very pleasant evening!

Saturday started a little later than planned delayed only by a visit to the chemist to buy some sun cream and rehydration powders and by the time I tripped back onto the stubble, it was thermic and therefore good only for some gusty canopy handling watched over by the trusty pals who again helped out with the odd word of encouragement and a flick of a wingtip here and there.

A quite lunch gave way to an easy afternoon and as the instability gradually died away we were treated to clear blue skies and an exquisite eight knots of reasonably laminar wind across the strip. Perfect!

By this time I had donned the motor, had my brief and watched Terry perform a dedicated free flighter’s return to earth without power….. ;-) Safe and well to our collective relief. We need all need him in one piece, far too valuable to lose imho.

The time had come - no further practice. Simon briefed me up and we both looked forward with anticipation to see how the Macro would perform in hauling my six foot six with twenty years worth of airline overfeeding into the luft.

First launch attempt (reverse) went really well until I fell backwards, dragged back by the wing. ‘Didn’t think to increase the power to help myself out eh? Thought I could run the combo into the air? Klutz!

‘Faced into wind the second attempt (again a reverse launch - complete with internal butterflies) and managed to get the sequence right. “POWER’ - a mighty roar exploded behind me accompanied by a firm shove in the back, and after just two steps I was airborne! F*&*^$in’ INCREDIBLE!

Leaving a swath of dust behind I climbing like a banshee into the slowly dying evening sunlight. I turned downwind after an extended climb-out through around five hundred feet or so. I had tried to slip back into my seat and only part managed it. The edge of my butt was perched on the seat but I was still substantially dangling in the launch position. Nothing for it I thought, but to return to earth. I had read stories of people in a similar position having problems on landing having lost the strength in their legs. Myself? I managed a reasonable touchdown then fell over (I like to pretend this was a homage to one of my generous helpers, but it wasn’t of course - I just screwed it up.) I packed my kit away a very happy new aviator or the Parachutal kind.

Impressions of the experience? Well, not at all what I expected in some ways. I had thought that being unhappy about static heights would leave me apprehensive when airborne. Not a bit of it, the very motion of the device through the air seems to banish that one. The view is incredible and the sensation highly addictive. This is not something you will want to try and then walk away from if you are a flying nut. Absolutely magic plus a string of other adjectives and the odd expletive still doesn't do it justice.

An impromptu ‘barbie’ at Simon and Patty’s place - a small flurry of Guinness' and a few chunks of scorched ‘wildebeest’ topped off a perfect day, the company was excellent and the atmosphere just magical. Saturday evening has now taken its place amongst my happiest flying memories. So much so that I can’t wait to get up there again under my wing, all talk of it being a ‘giant hankie’ have gone. This is now a wonderful flying machine - one that I can stow in my car boot and put together for flight in twenty minutes realizing a dream of decades.

Gliding may have changed, I haven’t been around it for some time now but last time I did take a look it wasn’t that well. Be that as it may, the good news is that the very essence of the earlier spirit mentioned above is alive and well at the LambournParamotor Club. Philip would heartily approve I'm sure; as for Simon, we are all fortunate to have a talented and dedicated instructor of his quality mentoring our first steps in this fascinating sport. They don't grow on trees!

Thank you guys!

Photo upload on the way - domestics come first.

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Hi Norman,

Glad you have that aironautical feeling through your veins. In reply to your story "Ditto Ditto Ditto Ditto and Ditto to every word of it. Its blxxxy fantastic.

In a few days l will have my own Macro delivered. I had my first powered flight last week and same as you l could not get into the harness cos my wife said l'm a fat bxxxxxx. but the joy of not travelling miles to a hill or a winch site when time is in the equation is something else.

Safe flying and l usually say "see you on a hill" but this time l can say see you on a flat field. :D

Regards Mike S

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‘Big congrats’ Norman - wish I was there to see you. I could have taken a few photos, but then again, maybe not (sorry Simon P).

Must be a great feeling for the first time…. I still remember my first solo circuit in a Microlight, then the landing – it will never leave you.

Tony

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I find that ease of getting into the seat is dependent on the precise setting of your leg straps. Too tight and I can't run properly so I have to loosen them up. However if they are too loose then when the wing lifts the motor and harness you end up hanging too low. You then have to lift your whole weight up before you can pivot back into the seat. When you get it right it's just a case of swinging your legs forward and the motion does the job for you. The alternative is to use a kick-in strap.

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No, it is not a problem. (but it can be if you dont set it up correctly)

You need to ensure that the harness is set up correctly for the pilot. each time it changes hands. The problems with Mike and Norm is that they are both big blokes, Mike was on my motor (a volution with a med harness) so I he has now ordered a large harness.

Norman is on the largest harness but a super big bloke, We have now sorted his harness out to 'fit him' by using my hangpoints in the barn. The Large Parajet Harness is very large indeed Norms Knee support flap was not adjusted correctly.

I was told not to get into my harness on my first flight.

You will not need to worry Tony as you are about the size I used to be and you will fit nicely into the School Parajet.

Its you or Stuart next mate......

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Hi Norman,

Glad you have that aironautical feeling through your veins. In reply to your story "Ditto Ditto Ditto Ditto and Ditto to every word of it. Its blxxxy fantastic.

In a few days l will have my own Macro delivered. I had my first powered flight last week and same as you l could not get into the harness cos my wife said l'm a fat bxxxxxx. but the joy of not travelling miles to a hill or a winch site when time is in the equation is something else.

Safe flying and l usually say "see you on a hill" but this time l can say see you on a flat field. :D

Regards Mike S

Thanks Mike!

Fat bxxxxxx? Tell her is was merely a matter of technique, that's what I told mine when she said exactly the same to me!!! I think Le-Macro could blast Dumbo into orbit so it had no probs with me.

I look forward, as you say, to seeing you on the hill!

All the best,

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  • 3 weeks later...

Went up to Lambourn today to fly. Arrived at around eight to be met by a FANTASTIC day for aviating. A gentle breeze down the strip and not a soul around except Simon, Mark (Parajet Ops Manager) and myself.

Simon got airborne to check the air for Bernoulli's and returned to earth with his usual grace to tell me that the conditions were perfect. I was pretty much ready to go and dead keen as I have not flown since first solo and was gagging to get up there again.

Briefed up and motor warmed - set up for a forward launch as the wind was about right for it.

Launch time - good stride forward, up came the wing and away I went - around ten paces that is until I mishandled the brakes (against the soundest advice born of long experience from Simon). To cut a long story short, the wing moved forward overhead, I lost my footing, fell onto my side plowing the field in the process and destroying my prop as the cage distorted on hitting the ground.

1 bent cage, 1 totalled prop and a lost opportunity for around three hous of aeronautical bliss..... GGGRRRRRRRRR! :oops:

Had I followed the briefing Simon gave me to the letter I would be swanning around above the clouds still.

Lessons learned.

Make a conscious effort to keep the brakes elevated during the takeoff run until you have flying speed. The wing cannot accelerate with the drag present from brake selection.

When a launch is not going right, as soon as you find yourself stumbling, bin the launch and kill the motor. With almost any thrust set as soon as you start to face mother earth the thrust line will push you forward and over. Recovery at that stage isn't really going to happen. Don't try and save the launch, save the prop and cage then have another go.

Last but not least, and this is a good one; listen carefully to the briefing (did that), take a moment to think (did that), mentally run through/rehearse what you are going to do (didn't do that).

Still - a trophy for the study, a tea-shirt for me and the missus, a sticker for the helmet and a wiser man and back mid to late September with repaired cage and a new prop.

Have fun up there in the interim folks! God I love this game...

PS: Col, thanks a bunch for taking my cage to the menders for me.

.

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Hi Norman

I'm the chap who fixing your cage. Can you you give me some idea when you need it next? I mentioned to Colin that I would make a start tomorrow and hopefully have it sorted by Friday. But if you don't need it for a couple of days, I can leave it until the weekend.

The idea is to straighten what I can, and cut out what I can't and replace them with new. I can get frames shot blasted and re-painted if you wish, but I think maybe it's better at this stage to leave it until "the training period is finished" What do you think?

Regards,

Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

Up to Lambourn yesterday and a stunning day unfolded. Too much wind early on unfortunately left Simon and I occasionally wandering into the middle of the field with our 'wussy' wind-speed meters to see if our wishful thinking had calmed the wind. Well, nothing worked until the end of the day when conditions became ideal with a fair breeze still running.

Kitted up Simon and I prepared to fly, the brief was that I would get airborne first then he would follow. We would then tool around the local area with me exploring the wing's handling with trimmers out and good stuff like that.

I got ready, clipped in and started up. My launch went well until to the point where I should have pulled brake to lift clear of the deck. I goofed it up by being determined not to pull brake right up to and beyond that point. The wing lifted raising me just clear of the ground, we settled back with me in the seat prematurely. Classic bungle, a stone was thrown up as my tank scraped the earth and struck the prop. I abandoned the launch and shut the motor down immediately arriving back on terra firma in a heap.

Simon launched when he saw I was OK and had a run around the local area to get his eye back in after his break.

What can I say? My brain was full and I missed the 'rotate' call. I won't next time....

After some though it is clear to me that if the launch had continued I may have had problems. The 'ding' started a split down the seam of the affected blade. Had that allowed air into the crack in volume that blade may well have disintegrated. The damage grounded my machine but had it not, I would have made it into the air on the second attempt having learnt yet more of the science of the launch process.

All in all no harm done really. Simon is very kindly going to repair the blade - no other damage was done; the cage is in the same superb condition that it was when Chris completed his repairs. I will return to the field in about a week and a bit to try again.

Stick at it bruvvers, it is worth it in the end! :lol:

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CIMG0438.jpg

Modeling for the Winter line we have Mike showing the 'OZEE', Simon the 'GIN' and Colin 'the BIKER'

The GIN available now and Haute Couture this season.

Training blog for Sunday morning, 30th September

Pundits in magazines talk about 'launch psychology' and in the run-up to this launch I kinda' know what they are talking about. Fall over once and bust your cage and prop, and everyone laughs - spares suppliers rub their hands. Do it twice and you seriously wonder how the third will turn out. `Plus, the imaginary crowd in the goofers (verse three gives a clue) grows to watch the next spectacle. You turn from tyro to tragi-comedian in your own mind, if not the conscious of those above. :wink:

There is no doubt about it, standing there with your back to the wind burdened with your motor humming sweetly on your back prior to launch can be a tense and introspective moment. Will this be another failure; will this launch represent your last opportunity to run your tongue across your own teeth? Smile we might, but thoughts like these do surface while we hang dutifully on to a pile of ’string’ and ripstop nylon for grim death; it is character forming. The only ray of sunshine might come from the reassuring thumbs up from your instructor. No option, you are here now - best get on with it. Launch!

So its lean back, a gentle heave and the ‘A’s for the first surge of hope. The wing soars above straight and true then stabilizes. Crab sideways a shade to get under the centre of the wing, correct minor deviations with the brakes, TURN and start moving.

A quick glance up to check that all is still well with ‘Mr Revo’ and smoothly hit full power - a roar and a surge of thrust from ‘Gilo’s monster’ and we are cantering forward. Accelerating the pace whilst keeping the hands up - a glance at the windsock confirms your dash is still into wind. Don’t lean forward - two more good strides, given the stiff breeze all seems well so symmetrically and smoothly pull a handful of brake on both sides and WE ARE OFF! Clear of the ground - sucked up towards the heavens! Ease off on the brakes, accelerate and then re-establish the climb with a squeeze of brake again. Dangling in a somewhat unseemly manner but climbing like mad and AIRBORNE! What a bloody relief.

The next task was to get back into the seat, keep the climb going and turn back overhead to allow Simon to get airborne and join up as per the briefing for a trolley across to the Membury Mast. First problem - couldn’t get right back into the seat. This was a disappointment as my hang check at home and modifications to the harness had worked fine at the full dress rehearsal. I never did make it back into the seat in the 45 minutes that I was airborne but I was determined to get to the Mast and back and enjoy the ride. In the end I reckon the corduroy trousers that I wore created too much friction to allow me to slide back into the seat. I tried very hard to do so I can assure you, as it didn’t take long for the posture to become very uncomfortable. Slipped the trimmers to cruise and off we went when Simon finally made it off the deck.

After around 15 minutes I realised what people had been waffling on about when they said the brakes are really heavy on the Revolution when the trimmers are out. My arms were (and still are) killing me - if you have the kit, install your tip steering, you need it.

Just short of the mast I realised that I had been at almost full power for quite a while and fuel may start to be a factor. I turned and returned to our Lambourn Field, rejoined the circuit and slipped gracefully down the final approach to land. I flared a little high, slowed down and eventually made it into a crumpled heap to complete my second landing. Successful I have to say, as by definition, any landing that you can walk away from qualifies as such. My legs gave way as there wasn’t much blood left in them - tosspot! I should really have had a good 20 minutes and landed back again. I just wanted a good chunk of air time beneath my boots.

Oh yes, I also bust my prop…. a little (well a lot really) and the cage needs just a small amount of attention with a hide faced hammer. [You were right Chris, it was best that we left painting it till a little later.]

YAHOO! What a great sport!

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