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Steve Haze - Training Blog


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So my paramotor training blog is going to be slightly retrospective, because I was too busy living the dream to actually put pen to paper and write it down when I was learning. Now, instead, I’m dragging up memories to get this all together, but only because I haven’t completely finished yet and because I’m bored today at work…it being a windy, rainy Monday and all.

When I was 18, I learned to Hang Gliders with Sussex Hang Gliding and Paragliding, but the problem with that training was the weather and the hang glider. The first Elementary Pilot Certificate course went okay and over 8 days (it dragged over a bit) I learned enough to take my first big flight on a training hang glider from Devils Dyke in Sussex, to the field at the bottom.

The problem arose after I’d bought my own hang glider and then wanted to complete the Club Pilot Certificate (It was a 2 week course of EPC then CPC). I’d have to drive 40 odd miles down to the club AFTER I’d fixed a ladder on my roof-rack and tied the glider to the ladder (for support). When I finally arrived at the club, we’d go to the field to be told “it’s just not windy enough” or “it’s just a bit too bumpy” or “the wind is in the wrong place”. Parawaiting (as I’ve now learned it’s called).

This is the reason I gave up Hand Gliding, before finishing the CPC. It just became too much hassle for a teenager with attention span issues.

SO…to learn to fly Paramotors now at 29 years old, I opted for the Skyschool path, thinking that a holiday in Spain, combined with flying around in the sun lots over two weeks would be more fun than standing in an English field waiting on the weather or waiting on a phone call to tell me to drive over. I didn’t have much time to take off work, and I liked the idea of coming away from the two weeks ready to go!

WELL…the weather had other plans. How did Alex (the M.D.) put it? “This is the worst weather I’ve ever seen here!” – GREAT!

I’d arrived on the Sunday to weather that was rubbish, but we weren’t going to be starting learning until the Monday morning, so I was hopeful. Monday arrived and the weather was still pretty crap, so we spent the morning in lectures about the theory of flight and air law. It was all good, useful information and it made the best of the bad weather, so I won’t complain about lectures. They ARE needed.

Late in the afternoon on the first day, the weather calmed down just enough for us to get the Mini-Wings out to learn the basics of controlling them. This was first kiting the wings and then graduating to safety-checks, clipping in, reverse-launching and trying to learn to feel and control the wing using the A’s and D’s.

I found the kiting quite easy, as I’ve got a four meter kite which I use for Land-boarding, but the A’s and D’s felt a little alien to me and we were of course learning in winds that were not ideal (for us as newbies!). BUT…I did get a flight in on day one; albeit not intentionally.

After an hour or two of ground-handling the mini-wings, the wind had started to pick up again and a big gust lifted me off my feet for about 10 meters. Luckily I didn’t get untwisted (I was still in reverse-launch position with the risers crossed over) and I managed to land back on my feet…but it did scare the crap out of me at that moment. When I got my feet back on the ground though, I was exhilarated, because on day one I was flying a mini-wing unassisted!! Excellent! We stopped at that point as it was becoming too dangerous; something I didn’t mind agreeing with.

Day two was also crappy weather, so a mixture of more lectures, DVD’s and some ground handling later in the day when the rain had stopped and the wind wasn’t too strong was all we could do. We learned about Parawaiting on these first two days, but I didn’t mind the bad weather too much and Alex, Kester and Rob made the most of the bad weather by giving us the lectures and getting us ground-handling where they could.

And I didn’t mind the lectures as I’d rather have had the lectures while it was raining outside (as we’d had) rather than being in the “Pilots Lounge” (the name I’ve tried to give the café/shack/thing) on a sunny day looking enviously out at the airfield.

I won’t go into too much detail breaking down the days, but we did have to write one of the first few days off due to the weather being absolutely shocking. High winds and rain! But even though the weather stayed like this on the home airfield, the Skyschool lads were doing everything they could to make the most of the time, even taking us to another secluded airfield up in the valleys.

This turned out to be a godsend where we were able to get in ground-handling practice with the full-size wings and then even get some towed launches in, getting 20-30 feet in the air. That was a good experience, getting up in the air for the first time since doing the hang gliding, ten years before. In fact my first taste of being airborne came on a forward launch practice when I was running with the wing and Alex ran behind pushing me until I was five or six feet in the air. That was cool!

There were some funny moments too, like when Alex tried to jump over a hire car from the top of the Landrover whilst kiting the wing…and his attempt to turn one of the students round to face the right way which ended up with him pushing him over a runway sign by accident – and forevermore being called a bully as if he intended to push the guy over!! :) We were a fairly youthful group for their first class of the year, (at least in mind - Rob H!) :lol: and I think it was infectious with the instructors. That plus some of the group were borderline alchoholics, so that made it more interesting too!

I need to put a mention in here for the instructors and staff. They are all great folks. Rob cooks the meals for those of you staying onsite and they are perfect for giving you the calories you need and want after a hard day running around a field. Rob, Kester and Alex are all patient instructors too (Deano hadn’t arrived at this point)

So out goes a big thanks to Kester who was always close by going through your pre-flight checks and helping you get moving with advice on making sure you’ve got the wing laid out right behind you and Alex whose voice is now so familiar over the radio shouting “keep running, keep running, POWER, POWER POWER!!!”

And then also a thanks to Rob, whose constant supply of food and wine fuelled the human engine, his biatch, Hubie (who was there on gap-year work) who also was hard at work helping Rob in the kitchen and helping Kester and Alex (and more importantly, me) by running around the field towing us newbies and generally helping out even though he probably wasn’t getting paid!

FIRST FLIGHT

On the last day of the first course (I’d paid for the beginners and intermediates courses back to back) we managed to get our first flights in, but only after waiting ALL DAY for the wind to die down enough for it to be safe. The instructors abandoned hope of the wind settling down on the airfield so we’d gone down to Empuria Brava on the coast to have some lunch, while Alex went for an impromptu skydive. (A side note here was the amusing bit where, when he landed, he ground-handled the parachute as if it was a Wing whereas every other skydiver just collapsed theirs!)

We arrived at a beach just down the coast from Empuria Brava and “the Dropzone” and began flying the mini-wings on the beach whilst the wing was still quite strong. And here, I must leave the flying story for the tangent about the French models…

You may have seen the photo I posted on a thread here which shows a beautiful model (called Camille) standing in front of a Paramotor…well yes…that was very nice on the eyes and most amusing. We’d basically been ground-handling the mini-wings and wings and these girls had been taking photos of each other.

I’d really got a feel for the mini-wings by now and was quite content flying it above my head whilst waking around the beach, practicing launching, turning around and running and then turning back and handling the wing, keeping it flying all the time. The wind was perfect for that. I distinctly remember watching one of the other students being told by Alex to turn round and run (as if launching) and keep running….and keep running…and keep running until he was right next to the hot French girls! (I laughed!)

The next thing we knew, they were asking to pose on the school’s Landrover and with Melly, (Rob the Instructor’s dog) and then with the Paramotor. It was a most…enjoyable…time. :) Sun, sea and babes! This is what Paramotoring should be about!!

parababewaacsm.jpg

I should also mention the sheer numbers of Kite-Surfers who were out on the water too. It made the beach seem like an adventure-sports Mecca, with the Kite Surfers on the water and us on the beach. But eventually, Alex got bored of the beautiful women (MADNESS – No really…I have him on video saying “Ok, can we chivvy them on, I want to go flying!” – Crazy man!)

He went for a flight along the beach and then back around, talking us through what we were going to be doing over the radio whilst he flew and then came in to land…and then it was my turn! I had come geekily-equipped with a Superman T-shirt just so that I could look like a complete nonce and with shorts on and the helmet, headset and shades, I must have looked so uncool! (No change there, I guess!)

We’d had “Keep Running!!!” drilled into our heads for days, and now it was time to put that into practice. What we had not been prepared for was running slightly uphill (the beach had a big lump in it) and on sand, so when the moment came, I knew it was going to be more of a challenge. But I am a very determined, single minded kinda guy, so I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

Freeze-frame then and imagine me standing there, all tied into a big kite with a lawnmower on my back and a superman emblem on my front, while a guy who has just told a beautiful model to get lost gives me radio instructions for running towards the sea in hopes that I fly. Sounds really crazy if you ask me….

Kester, the instructor who’d spent the most time with us was with me, making sure I was all setup and giving me last minute nuggets of information and preparing me…then after a nod from Alex, it was “One, Two, Three – GO!” and I ran…and I ran…on sand…it’s not fun, but I ran, and the motor pushed me faster and I ran faster than I should ever be…and then I wasn’t running, because my feet had left the beach and I was in the air…

WOW…this was it…but no time to relax. I had to keep thinking as we had to turn across the wind quickly because Alex didn’t want us flying over the water (understandable). So I had to put in a turn, getting the feel of how much input was needed and also doing that long stomach crunch that you have to do when you aren’t in your seat.

The plan was to get enough height and come back round over the instructors when we would then be talked-through the process of getting into the seat (which we had already practiced during the hangpoint-test). Fair enough, but that first loop was damn painful and even then I didn’t properly get into the seat as my hang points were set for easily getting in, but not for great comfort. (These changed on subsequent flights, and were not wrong, but were just set like that so it was easy to actually get into the seat.)

BUT I WAS FLYING, and when, over the radio (when I was over the group) I heard the request to “Give us a whoop if you are happy!” I gave a big Homer Simpson style “WOOOHOOOO!” :D

It had been too long since I’d been in the air on my own and this was awesome…and what a view over the coastline and the low sun behind over the land, shining off of a nearby river. WOW. The adventure has truly begun! 8)

Edited by Guest
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Presenting DORK-Man! :lol:

supersteve.jpg

But I think you should all wear Wing And A Chair t-shirts in future!! (my website goes live tonight and they will be on the PMC shop soon.

*cough* Shameless self-promotion!!!! :oops::lol:

heheheh

Psymon...I'm going to Mere at the end of July (Alex's first week training back in the UK) I'll be reviewing the UK training in Steve's Blog after that. More importantly, that'll be the day I get my paramotor!!! :D

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Hi Steve.

I think you should use the Superman t-shirt as your forum photo :D . your blog was a good read.

I'm not far behind you, just waiting for the right weather at the flagpole and away, fingers crossed, did my taining in France with Whitters and the rest of the "Fodder Five"

Dave

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