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Togsie - Training Blog


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My training blog…………

First of all a little bit about myself. I’ve always been interested in aircraft and always thought that one day I’d like to fly. As a lad (1960’s) I was a member of the ATC and always looked forward to the annual camps when the highlight was always a flight in a Chipmunk or a circuit of the airfield in an old barge of a glider. I went on to join the RAF as an avionics engineer and as a result spent a lot of time around fast jets but never found a way of getting into the air myself. That is apart from a brief attempt at hang gliding in the mid 70’s which always involved lots of walking up hills but not much time in the air.

When I left the RAF I got into other sports and apart from the odd thought about perhaps going for a PPL, which I couldn’t afford, pretty much forgot about flying.

I’m conscious of the fact that the years are creeping up on me and as I currently participate in the most dangerous sport in the country* I decided to start looking for something with less risk attached.

A chance conversation with a guy at work was the first I’d heard about Paramotoring and the old aviation juices started to flow again. The Internet makes it really easy to get the gen on just about anything (I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a Paramotor entry in Yellow Pages) and one of the first contacts that I made was with Simon who invited me over to Lambourn to see what Paramotoring was all about. After my visit I was convinced that this was something that I wanted to do and promptly went off and booked some training…….. not with Simon but with Skyschool in Mere! There’s gratitude for you. I should point out that this was in no way a reflection on Simon as an instructor; the reason behind my decision was that I needed to go a formal route, with a recognised qualification at the end of it, because my employer was funding my training and that was one of the conditions. That meant I had to go the BMAA or BHPA route. I have bought my wing off Simon though and I’m also a fully paid up member of the Lambourn club so I hope that Simon has forgiven me.

And so to the training; I was booked on a 2 week course in mid July down in Mere (Wiltshire). The weather as you know was pretty grim and a decision was made from day one to make the most of what good weather was available, this meant sometimes doing things a little out of sync with the classroom stuff being used to fill in the gaps when we couldn’t get out due to the poor weather.

Day 1 - was mostly spent ground handling and at the end of it I remember feeling pretty good about the way things had gone. All of the other guys on the course were a lot younger than me and I was pleased that I’d managed to keep up so far. Even at this early stage of my training I understood that what everyone says about ground handling being the skill you need to master to make the rest easy was true.

Day 2 - was more ground handling and for some reason the wing seemed to have a mind of its own. I don’t know why but I couldn’t keep it in the air for more than a couple of seconds; my excuse was that it was a bit gusty. They were very localised gusts as well, they only seemed to be affecting me, every one else seemed to be doing quite nicely thank you. In the afternoon I managed to get air under my feet on the end of a short rope and had my first introduction to how the brakes affect the wing in flight even if only briefly. Two valuable lessons learnt ; keep your hands up and keep running even when you feel the wing lifting you off of the ground.

As the weather looked promising we agreed to carry on training into the evening and decamped for a new location, on top of a hill. I’ve no idea how high the hill was but suffice to say that the sheep at the bottom looked VERY small. I really surprised myself because I wasn’t at all apprehensive, the brief was simple a forward launch and a gentle glide into the field below. I did it and really enjoyed the experience as did everyone else in the group, we were all buzzing in the pub that evening.

Day 3 - and some more hill flying. A different location again and this time the sheep at the bottom of the hill were VERY VERY small. As the extra height would give us more time in the air the brief was to forward launch turn left, fly to the border of the adjacent field, turn 180’ fly to the landing field, turn into wind and land. Now I don’t know if it was the extra height or what but I felt much more apprehensive about this flight and I’m sure that’s part of the reason why I fluffed my first launch. I didn’t really commit to the launch, lifted my legs too early and ended up on my a**e with the wing in a big heap behind me. After a good talking to from my instructor I made a better job of my second attempt and again really enjoyed the flight (but not the walk up the hill afterwards). My last attempt down the “big hill” wasn’t text book either, I messed up the flare on landing because I was “bell ringing” coming into land. I landed quite heavily but in one piece. It’s then that the doubts start creeping in; “what would have happened if I’d landed like that with a motor on my back”?

The rest of the course – was actually cancelled mid way through week 2 because the weather forecast was grim. In the final days that we did train we managed to cover all of the theory and got to do a “hang” with the motors in preparation for our first flights. The school uses H&E’s and Paramotors and some of the guys on the course had brought their own motors along, it was good to be able to compare the different kit. On the final evening of the final day three of our number did manage to fly with the motors. It was a perfect evening with a big red sunset, what a great time to be making your first flight. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching people make their maiden flights or seeing the look on their faces when they land. As for me I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to join them but if I’m honest with myself I probably wasn’t quite ready.

I went on the course with the frame of mind that I would give it a try and at the end of it make a decision about whether or not it was something that I wanted to carry on with. I’d pretty much made up my mind that Paramotoring was for me from day 1. Then on day 3 when it seemed like it was all going wrong I wasn’t so sure. Most of the guys on the course said the same thing and it seems to be a common theme when you read other peoples training Blogs; you have good days, and you have bad days, but in the end it all comes right.

So what next? Well as I mentioned before I’ve bought a wing (Synthesis) and the plan is to get as much ground handling practice in as I can. I’m then going back to Skyschool to finish my training over the August bank holiday. I’ll let you know how I get on. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before I make my maiden flight.

* Fishing is recognised as the most dangerous sport. More people die taking part (mainly from drowning) than any other sport.

:D

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  • 2 months later...

….. and so to chapter 2. Having spent the interim period since my last training practising my ground handling I decided that a week’s worth of good weather and some training in Spain should be all that was needed to finally get my sorry a**se into the air. And so it was that me and my good mate “Sidney Synthisis” set off for Ordis Aerodrome, near Figures, in Spain.

The plan was to get into the air fairly early into the week and then to progress to the more advanced stages of the syllabus like spot landings and x country flying. We lost a day because of the weather and there were also some issues with the H&E Paramotors which slowed things down a bit but come Thursday I got my chance to take to the air.

The plan was to forward launch, do a couple of circuits, and land. The wing came up nicely and I started to trundle off down the runway. I made a couple of corrections to the wing which probably lacked a bit if finesse, but which had the desired effect, and then it was “power,power,power” and off I went.

I experienced the sensation of the motor getting lighter and being able to run faster as the load on my back reduced. I started to pick up speed and I’m sure I could only have been seconds away from becoming airborne when it all went wrong. The power from the motor dipped and my legs were once again supporting the full weight of the motor which caused me to stumble and fall sideways. Result one very badly damaged prop, one very pissed off instructor, and the end of training for me. :(

I see from the forum that Malcs is off to the same place for some training this week. It will be interesting to hear if any reference is made to the bloke that broke the prop the week before.

Regards to all.

Togsie.

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Ah Togsie!

It is an exclusive club but you are welcome to join. Founder members of quality are to be found at Lambourn on the odd weekend. The branch secretary will be in touch soon with the forms, a tea-shirt and a sticker (... if he can get airborne.)

Bad luck matey, but better fortune to follow. Never give up and the space between your boots and mother earth will widen!

Are you back home now or still sunning your arse in Espagne?

All the best and sincere condolences from,

"The Splinter and Matchwood Idealists Formation Tumbling Team"

Motto ~ "Onward & Upward!"

klutze1.png

Rule 262. "One feels such a Klutze but it doesn't last."

"We will soon have you up there soaring with the Beagles!" {A Malapropism}

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Norman,

Thanks, your encouragement is greatly appreciated. I am back in the UK and I’ve already had a chat with Simon about the way forward and he’s come up with a cunning plan! :idea:

It ‘s an honour to be considered for membership of SMIFTT but it would be nice to remain a junior member with just the 1 busted prop, at least until I’ve had a couple of flights.

Regards.

Togsie.

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  • 4 months later...

Tuesday the 19th of February and I arrived at Lambourn at 1030 to find that the mist still hadn't cleared, funny that the weather was perfect when I left home :!: If you had said to me then that in 6 hours time I would be in the air enjoying my first flight I would have said that you were mad, but in the air I was :D

I really wasn't expecting to fly; I made the trip with the expectation of doing some ground handling and reacquainting myself with my wing which has seen very little daylight since the end of last year. I also thought it would be a good opportunity for a bit of familiarisation training on my brand new Parajet.

With my motor all set up Simon thought that a bit of ground handling with the motor on my back was in order. I have ground handled with a motor on my back before and what I've found is that the extra weight seems to induce something like a 2 second lag between the brain issuing the command and the muscle actually responding, the effect being that the ballet like grace and lightness of foot (I wish) which I normally display when ground handling is much more difficult to achieve. On a more serious note I did find that the technique that I'd been taught to ground handle (2 A's in the left hand and 2 D's in the right hand) was very cumbersome when you added the throttle to the right hand and is something that I need to fine tune in the future.

I wont go into too much detail about the rest of the build up for my first flight because Simon does have some unique and patented training methods which he's asked me to keep under my hat, although why I had to stand on one leg facing into wind with my underpants on my head for 30 mins I'm still not sure.

Takeoff was a reverse launch and I can't remember much else about it except Simon yelling "power, power, power", and there I was airborne. And what a lovely feeling it was. I must confess that it did take me a little while to relax but once I realised that moving my head an inch to the left or right wasn't going to cause me to plummet to the ground I started to enjoy the view. And yes everything works as described, apply more throttle and the sheep get smaller, let off the throttle and the sheep get bigger. Apply left brake and you turn left, right brake and you turn right, bloody marvelous.

Now I did have a flight plan and I must have flown the first part of it because I remember Simon over the radio saying "OK now do a left hand circuit" some time after that I started wondering "where exactly am I"? and "where is the field"? :oops: , I couldn't see it. Simon must have realised that I was having some navigational difficulties and offered some good advice along the lines of "you want the sun behind you and the road to your left". At this point I'd come much further downwind that I should have and I was now struggling to make any headway into wind but was much relived to see a white speck in the distance which was Simon's Landy. I could now see the field but couldn't make any progress towards it and the thought entered my mind that I would be landing out somewhere and I should really have taken my mobile phone with me. Then I thought about the trimmers, I hadn't planned on going anywhere near them until I'd got a few flights under my belt but there didn't seem to be any other options if I wanted to get back to the field. So I parked the brakes that I'd been hanging on to as if my life depended on it and guess what, no drama, I hadn't gone into a death spiral and I was still flying, I then let out the trimmers. Again no drama but now I'm penetrating the wind and making progress, I made a mental note to reset the trimmers before I land.

Simon's now on the radio lining me up to land, I remember to reset the trimmers and the next instruction from Simon is to kill the engine, I hadn't realised up until then just how cold my hands were and I couldn't hold in the kill switch for long enough to stop the engine so I landed with power on. Maybe landing is the wrong word it was more like a controlled crash but I couldn't have been happier I had made my first flight.

I got a well done from the guys and Simon commented that "45 mins was good for a first flight". 45 mins!!! I would have sworn that I wasn't in the air for longer 10 mins where did the time go?

It's great to have finally made it into the air, now I want to go again and put right the mistakes that I made the first time around. As well as the points that I've already mentioned I found it difficult to get fully into my seat so I wasn't 100% comfortable, Simon reckons that a bit of fine tuning of my harness will sort it out.

I know that I've still got a long way to go but I'd like to give a big thanks to everyone for their support, both on the forums and over on the field, that has helped me to get this far.

Regards.

Togsie

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Simon,

I think that I've been a bit slow in putting your name and location together and realising that we are of course aquanted. You are DTC Simon aren't you?

In answer to your question I get my prop back this week and I'm hoping that if everything comes together that I might get into the air during our trip to Dartmoor at the weekend.

Regards

Togsie.

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  • 3 months later...

I had my second flight today; a reverse launch and a flight to see the new crop circle, followed by a perfect spot landing :D

I phoned Simon on his mobile early afternoon and got him at home, he'd had his flying fix for the day and was getting stuck into some admin but said he'd meet me over at the field if i wanted to go for a flight, what a nice man!

After a bit of ground handling I started to get set for my flight... what a shambles. Laid out the wing, had a p*ss. Warmed up my motor, where's my helmet, go back to the car and get helmet, have another p*ss. Faffed around for ages getting the motor on my back, stood up and rip there goes my trousers. Got the motor on my back but forgot to set the ignition switch to on. Talk about disorganised.

Anyway finally got into the air and had a rather nice 40 min flight which was made all the more enjoyable by the ram air around my family jewels courtesy of the 12 inch split in my trousers :lol: .

And as for the perfect spot landing..... well it was perfect if the spot in question was Oxfordshire, if the landing spot was the field that I took off from then I missed it by about 300 meters :oops: . I landed in the corn field but no harm done to me or my kit. I really don't want to do that again because it's a long walk back to base with a Paramotor on your back.

I really need to get over to the field more and put the lessons learned into practice. I still feel a bit nervous before a flight (is it normal to need a p*ss 3 times in 20 minutes or is there something wrong with my Prostate) and I think it would help me if I had a fixed routine. That's something to work on.

Next time out I WILL land on my feet :evil:

Regards.

Togsie

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Ken, any landing you walk away from with no damage is a good landing, weather tonight was peachy - bet you loved it, don't think airconditioned pants will catch on though.

Dan,

Airconditioned pants might not catch on but pants made from rip stop nylon could be a winner though :idea:

Regards.

Togsie.

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  • 9 months later...

I surprised myself when I looked back at my training blog and discovered that prior to joining the training course in France the last time that my wing had seen the light of day and I’d had a motor on my back was June 2008!

A strange situation given that I had an undiminished desire to fly, I had all the kit sitting in the garage and finding the time to go flying wasn’t a problem. So why wasn’t I flying? After much soul searching the answer that I came up with was confidence and a belief in my own ability, a situation that I hoped could be resolved by attending the course in France.

There was a warm welcome in France, the trainee instructors were all buzzing and enthusiastic and I knew that whatever the outcome it was going to be a memorable week.

Pete B was assigned as my instructor, a good start as far as I was concerned as I’d spent a bit of time with Pete on the Tip To Tip and I had a lot of respect for him as a pilot (he also taught me that man love can be a beautiful thing).

The training started and it was back to basics. I was happy that although I’d flown before Pete wasn’t taking anything for granted, we followed the syllabus ironing out the wrinkles as we went until Pete was happy for me to take to the air.

My first attempt at getting airborne had a sense of déjà vu about it, the nerves kicked in and I was already making silly mistakes like putting my helmet on back to front. The end result was a failed takeoff with me in a heap on the ploughed part of the field. Why? because I didn’t keep running and tried to jump into my seat. I know that you have to keep running; I watch video clips and shout at the screen when I see people making the same mistake so why do I keep doing it!

It’s at this point that I had a long chat with Pete and he explained to me the way in which he prepares for a flight and gets himself into the “zone”. All good advice and for me the missing piece of the jigsaw. I started to run through in my mind the sequence of events that I was going to go through the next time I had the chance to fly, from putting on my flying suit to running into the air.

My next flight was better, I was still nervous but this time I was confident that I would get into the air, and so I did, although I didn’t manage to get into my seat.

And so it went on, until my last flight. I woke up really hoping that it would be flyable, a big step forward, in the past I would have been secretly relieved if someone had said “no too windy”. I walked over to the airfield instead of getting a lift in the van a started thinking about my flight, and feeling CALM! I started going through my preparations and laid the wing out for a forward launch. I tried to launch but failed as the wing went over to the side and I couldn’t recover it. No problem, the winds picked up a bit let’s try a reverse, and off I go into the morning sky for a couple of circuits and a landing on my feet. All so simple but a week earlier I would have been a bag of nerves and the failed forward launch would have sent me into a right old tizzy. I had achieved what I had come out to France to do – Thanks Pete.

There was of course a lot more to the syllabus than the actual flying, I also managed to fill in lots of gaps in my knowledge of Navigation, Meteorology etc, and I’m also a lot more confident that I can look after my own kit. But at the end of the day a syllabus is just a syllabus, when it’s presented by experienced pilots with bucket loads of enthusiasm and their own experiences to illustrate the points that they’re trying to make, that’s when the subject comes to life and learning becomes fun, and that’s exactly the way it was in France. Throw a few beers, great company, and some good natured banter into the mix (but no eggs :) ) and you have a perfect week that I’d be happy to recommend to anybody.

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Very good report Ken, you conveyed the enthusiasm and cameraderie very well I thought. It was enjoyable to make the trip to meet up with you and the others.

It's great to read you have a lot more confidence now, it really makes for enjoyable flights. I had a brilliant one yesterday knowing the kit is in good order, in no small part due to Piers giving it the once over.

Cheers,

Alan

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Good read Ken. I remember being relieved to get to the field and find it not quite flyable too and if it was flyable then I'd make as many excuses as I could until it got dark or the wind picked up. I got through that though and the last 8 times my wing and motor have come out of the van they've been airborne thankfully, there's no ifs or buts about it now, if its flyable then I'm going to fly and I'm going to take off at my first launch attempt too, thats my attitude now!

You got a nice landing on your feet too, well done, beats me as I still can't land for sh1t as you can see on my Facebook vid!

http://www.facebook.com/v/64381326972

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Nothing to do with me Ken you did all yourself I just gave you a little bit of advise as and when you needed it, Well done.

Your there now Ken just remember what you were feeling on take off and landing and both will go with out a problem remember the zone!!.

Just the rest of the sylibus to do now and remember, You never stop learning

Pete b

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A really useful blog Togsie. Your comment on confidence is particularly interesting. Many of us struggle with confidence at some stage or other in our flying. The temptation is to think that we are alone in this and that the 'blockage' is a permanent feature. Not so of course and Pete's skill in helping you and your determination did the trick. It looks odd that you had the problem in first place when you look back and get the situation into it's correct perspective doesn't it?

Congratulations!

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Good read Ken. I remember being relieved to get to the field and find it not quite flyable too and if it was flyable then I'd make as many excuses as I could until it got dark or the wind picked up. I got through that though and the last 8 times my wing and motor have come out of the van they've been airborne thankfully, there's no ifs or buts about it now, if its flyable then I'm going to fly and I'm going to take off at my first launch attempt too, thats my attitude now!

You got a nice landing on your feet too, well done, beats me as I still can't land for sh1t as you can see on my Facebook vid!

http://www.facebook.com/v/64381326972

Dear Malcs.

Although difficult to tell from the vid it does appear your 'angle of dangle' is wrong. You look as if the wing attachments are too far away from you, ie too far out on the arms which is off setting your C of G when the power is off. Get someone who knows what they are doing to examine your static hanging position from a frame or garage roof. Some harness adjustment and hang position adjustment might help. And also always always get your arse out of the seat on landing.

Regards.

whitters

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  • 1 month later...

The weather forecast for Sunday at the flag pole was looking good and I was really looking forward to my first flight since my adventures on the training course in France.

The wind direction couldn't make it's mind up and I decided to bide my time until the early evening in the hope that conditions would be more favourable. Early evening came and with it nil wind conditions, one of those perfect evenings when even the hot air balloons come out to play.

My preflight brief from Simon was simple "go fly and enjoy yourself, you don't need me on the radio" a nice vote of confidence I thought. I took my time getting set up and making minute adjustments to the layout of the wing that probably weren't necessary but I'd learnt the lesson about poor wing layout leading to failed forward launches so I took a bit of extra time just to make sure. And then I was off, the wing came up nicely, then a longer run than I was used to in the nil wind conditions, then airborne.

I think that I deserved a nice evening flight after all of my efforts and woes to date but it wasn't to be because no matter how hard that I tried I couldn't get into my %**^!^% seat! So for me it was a quick circuit and a fast landing on my botty. No damage done though to me or the kit.

A bit dissapointing really as the conditioins were great and I'd enough fuel on board for a good long flight. On the plus side though I'd got myself into the air and down again with zero supervision. No one to check that I was strapped in correctly or that I'd clipped into the wing the right way around. Simon was there to help if I needed him but I felt confident that I knew what I was doing and got on with it. I may have been a very short (and uncomfortable) flight but I felt like I was making progress at the end of it. I need to sort this getting into the seat problem out now once and for all.

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying good company, a BBQ expertly prepared by Mrs Malcs, and listening to the other pilots recalling their flying adventures. A perfect evening, thanks to all.

Regards

Ken.

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You'll be itching to fly again under your own supervision now you've built confidence, I bet. It was like that for me Ken.

Now as for getting in the seat, I can never get straight in, so I wait until I am at about 400 feet then release one or both brakes, give a tug on the front of the seat and a good a*se wriggle and I'm in.

This is now normal procedure as part of the climb out and presents no problems. I then enjoy the flight.

Cheers,

Alan

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