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How Risky is Paramotoring?


fuel9m
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Hi

My friend and I have been paragliding for a few years and we both just recently embarked on the long held dream of powered flight.

Are there any other free flyers on here who also paramotor and how did you feel during your early powered flights?

I've had three flights on my PAP in good conditons but don't seem to be able to fully relax and enjoy the experience...yet. I cant put my finger on what it is, maybe I'm just not used to a noisy motor pushing me along after so many hours of silent soaring and in my head I'm thinking stuff like 'there is so much that can go wrong here!' and 'oh, look how far back my wing is!'

There's no good reason to think like that as I am methodical and consistent in my pre-flight checks, my gear is in great nick, I have always flown in calm conditions and I fly sensibly.....there's really no reason for being nervous.

Many pilots reckon free flying is riskier than PPG due to the rising air that gliders seek. I've had my fair share of edgy free flying moments and coped fine so paramotoring shouldn't play on my mind from a safety point of view.

Hopefully my confidence will grow as I get more flights under my belt and I will learn to relax and enjoy my dream!

Joe

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Hi Joe,

I started flying a few yeas ago with a motor to begin with and no free flying experience. The risks are more or less proportional to the amount you push your flying. In my early days I tried to turn tightly while under power and suffered an assymetric collapse about 300 feet from the ground. I turned through about 180 degrees and plummeted to the ground. At about 50feet from the ground the wing reinflated and thoughs of being killed went away. I was flying a tradional paragliding wing, a Trekking Civic at the time. It was not the wings fault it collapsed, only mine for asking it to do a ridiculous manoevre which caused the stall of the wing.

For the last 250 hours, I have flown mainly a Reaction reflex wing and a Plasma. In all that time I have never had a flutter in the air apart from rough turbulance occassionally. Reflex wings are very collapse resistant and the modern wings are very good provided you don't fly in conditions too strong for their design. Those limits are quite high too and most sensible pilots know their limit of what is safe. Your biggest hazard is the ground as I am sure you are aware. Paramotorists have most of their accidents while attempting to take off or land. The advantage of a motor is that you have a chance to delay landing if your approach is not ideal and go around again. Another significant risk reducer is that a paramotorist is normally using a fairly flat field with plenty of room. Whereas a paraglider is often on a steep slope where take-offs can be very hairy at times.

I do also have my CP and have done about 30 hours paragliding and enjoy it too. I came back from a holiday in Morocco earlier this year and then went flying my paramotor. My first thought was how clumbsy and unresponsive flying with a motor is compared to free flight! I was fortunate not to crash a break my legs though after losing too much height and doing an emergency cross wind landing but thats another story. My inexperience again at the discipline. Taking off vertically and backwards while doing a reverse launch is not the norm while paramotoring!

In summary I would suggest that motoring is (probably) much safer than paragliding. Just look at Skywings and look at the accident statistics each month. However there are more paraglider pilots than paramotorists so ??? I don't know. :?:) With a few more hours your confidence will certainly grow, especially with you past experience.

John Coutts

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Hi Joe. Kindred spirit.

I paraglide and also paramotor and have done both since I started flying. I started with a PAP too. I love both forms for very different and also some similar reasons.

Take a look at the force diagrams http://paramotorclub.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=833

the wing has to be well behind you because of "Physics"; a case of "its all very well in practise but does it actually work in theory?"

You know the force diagram for PG steady state flight? Lift+DRag=Weight. But you also know very well that when you meet a 12up your wing needs to be way out in font of you and you need to be turning hard to keep your angle of attack right with the rising air whilst you accelerate to the upward speed of that rising air? If you try to keep the wing from coming forward you will stall even though the wing is ahead of you?

Apply the same logic to PG flight by rotating the force diagram from glide to level flight and see how far back the wing needs to be for correct angle of attack to the incident air! then rotate it to a 1 in 7 climb and your PG instincts scream a stall warning!!

I found the same thing and took a while of studying the physics to understand that that is where the wing needs to be. It is also very important to know when it is actually too far back and that your climb angle (angle of incidence to the horizon) is too high. This can be when you have too much power for your wing speed (use the bar) or you are encountering lift or turbulence.

Statistically PPG has fewer reported accidents than PG. Many factors here including PG is often done in turbulence close to the ground in order to get into the good lift and also PPG tend generally not to report any but seriuous injury (when it is mandatory) whereas PG will report a stinging nettle rash. The reporting system for PPG is not utilised. Also PPG often chooses much less turbulent conditions for flight and wing choices tend to be toward the low end of the certifications systems.

But the hazards are similar and the risks of them occurring to oneself are highly dependent on pilot choices; statistics are not really much help. That you have had a sucessful pilot experience so far suggest you are risk conscious and mitigate them by careful preparation and cautious choices? so PPG will be similarly safe foir you.

My use of "angle of attack" means the angle of the chord to the incident air and "angle of incidence" being the angle of the chord to the horizon. There are other definitions for these terms.

All the foregoing statements are my opinion and subject to interpretation and debate.

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Joe

I think that feeling is normal whether you've already done free flying or not. I didn't actually 'enjoy' my first 5 flights as such but each time I'd be a bit more relaxed at another aspect of it and knew that I had to get through this to get to where I was comfortable. The 6th flight I really enjoyed and started 'gently' experimenting with low passes and slightly tighter turns and I felt completely relaxed the whole time. On the 7th flight I was so darn relaxed that I started to look at the various things that were holding me up there and whispered a few what ifs to myself, nota good idea but it made me think more about the importance of pre flight checks. I also reached for the reserve handles behind my head and decided that if I were in a flat spin then I probably wouldn't have a hope of reaching them so my next purchase will be a front mounted container! I'm over my fear of landing now because I know that even if I stuff it up my wing lets me down pretty gently even if I flare 'after' I hit the ground but of course I will now concentrate on perfecting this.

It has to be alien to all of us, we're not meant to be up there and if ever I didn't feel nervous or didn't feel that alienism then that would be the time to stop, its what keeps you focused.

For me want to do this for a long longtime and I'm happy to just float around up there because I can, not bothered about the sporting aspect but thats me. We're all different but all the same if that makes sense!

You'll relax soon enough!

Malc

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Thanks for the replies guys. I think I just need to get some more hours under my belt and I'll be loving it.

Malcs, funny how we are all scared of different aspects of paramotoring - you say you disliked landings but on my first 3 flights that is the bit I've enjoyed most because the motor is off and I'm looking forward to being back on the ground in one piece! Having hundreds of PG landing experience probably helps to.

Aditionally, take-offs don't bother me either, I know my technique and my kit is in good order so that inspires confidence. Thinking on it now I feel most apprehensive when applying full throttle (slowly) in flight and the wing pitches back - I know that its not going to fall behind me as I have no brakes on and the PAP 1100 is not a very powerful unit for my weight (naked 85kg) so power stalling it is highly unlikely. Thanks for clarifying the wing positioning Francis77!

Like you say, its better to be cautious and have a little fear to keep you on the ball.

Joe

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