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200 mile XC ends in disaster!!!!!!


hammertime
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This is a long post so I hope it doesn't bore you!

The trip is something I had been wanting to do for a while but time and weather had got in the way until this Saturday. The plan was to fly from my farm on the outskirts of Manchester to a mates farm at Shobdon in Hereford, approx 100 miles away. It would be my longest XC to date.

The forecast for the Saturday was great although the wind was coming from the South. Not wanting to fly all this way in to a head wind I decided I would get the train down to hereford on the Friday night with all my kit, stay at my mates, get up early and take advantage of the tail wind all the way home. This was a great plan until Virgin trains refused to let me board a train with a petrol engine! So it was back to the drawing board!

I decided that if I was to set off early from home, I may have a chance of penetrating the head wind before it got too strong. I therefore got my kit ready the night before and went to bed.

I woke up at 5am and at 5.30 I was performing a forward launch in to a very gentle breeze with my Bailey 175 and Synthesis 34. I was away! I received 2 text messages from friends in my local village saying I had woken them up! I cruised through the low level route between Manchester and Liverpool airspace at 500 ft hoping to avoid any other air traffic through this narrow path but I didn't spot anything, it was far too early! The sun rise was amazing. On exiting the low level route I increased height to 2000ft and carried on. It was silky smooth and I spotted 3 hot air balloons in the distance.

As it was the weekend, I took advantage of cutting straight through the MATZ around Shawbury airbase, saving some valuable time. I was averaging just over 20mph and as I was flying over Shrewsbury I was approaching the 3 hour mark. On previous flights, my average fuel consumption is 3 - 3.5 litres per hour. This difference of 0.5 of a litre can make a huge impact on a long distance with a 10 litre tank. (Work out the maths). I had spotted 2 fuel stations but fortunately I have another farmer friend who lives just south of Shrewsbury, so I decided to land at his place for a refuel.

It was 8.30 and I had already covered 75 miles. After a coffee, refuel and a chat it was now 10am. I took off again and had to gain some good height for the next leg as I was flying over the hills around the Long Mynd. The wind had picked up and my ground speed had dropped to 16mph in places. It was also starting to get bumpy but I pressed on. The last leg took an hour and a half but it was an awesome feeling to see my mate stood in the middle of his field waving at me. Set the trimmers for landing and cruised in. I had made it! I was so chuffed!!!!

We went for lunch and then the wind really picked up.

My idea was to leave my kit at my mates and get the train back. I could collect my kit another day. But at 4pm, the wind dropped, and I decided that I could take off and use the tail wind to my advantage. I could be home in 3 hours without refueling and this would complete a 200 mile journey! I was off!

The GPS said I was doing 55mph in places and I was bombing along! It was a little bumpy but I was comfortable. However, after 40 mins it got really bumpy and I didn't feel comfortable so without hesitating I decided to land. It was 5pm, I had no phone signal where I was, so I sat under a tree listening to the ipod waiting for the wind to drop.

At 7pm, the wind had dropped and I decided to crack on. I had a 2 hour window to get home. I would probably run out of light but I could make it close enough for an acceptable retrieve off the mrs. I strapped on the motor and performed my usual pre flight warm up. This consists of running the engine whilst strapped in but not attached to the wing. I then killed the engine, clipped in to the wing and started it up. I then gave the engine a full power test when suddenly all the C & D lines in my right hand got sucked in through the front of the cage netting and wrapped around the prop!!! Arrrrgghhhhhh! Now I was pissed off.

On inspection, it had shattered the carbon prop, destroyed one of the cage quarters and cut through various lines. Now I was in the sh1t. With no phone signal and being 75 miles from home I started to wonder what I would do. Suddenly a lady from the nearby farm came across the field on a quad bike to see if I was alright. After explaining, I left all the entangled kit in the field and went back to her farm where I had tea and chocolate cake!

I then called for a taxi, but it was Saturday night and nothing was available. My mate from Shrewsbury had gone out for the night and I was well and truely stuck. Fortunatley, the farmers wife took pity on me and gave me a lift to Shrewsbury train station where I managed to get a train to Warrington. I finally got home at midnight!

I then had to go back yesterday by car to retrieve my kit and give the farmers wife a bottle for all her help!

This is the first real incident I have had whilst paramotoring. I only have 40 hours under my belt and have never broken a prop until Saturday when I ended up being 75 miles from home with no phone signal! Would I do a solo trip like this again? Absolutely! I can't wait to get the kit repaired and plan another trip!

And that is my story I would like to share with you. Even though I have caused some expensive damage to my kit, in a strange way, I really really enjoyed this experience. It was a real challenge. Something I had wanted to do for ages. I may have failed on the return leg but it is a trip that I will never forget.

I hope you didn't find it too boring! :lol:

:acro:

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Wow, sounds great up until the end bit mate. But even then I think 'Disaster' is too strong a word really. You came out of it unscathed. So you broke a prop and cuts some lines...you are here to tell the wonderful tale of your muchos biggos XC. Plus, you still seem full of it so couldn't have been that bad when you think about it :)

Reading things like this makes me want to trade everything I own and get a motor on my back pronto :) I want to fly from here (just outside Luton) to Brighton one day, landon the beach - some fishy chippys and train home (or if the wind god turns around, fly back)

Well done matey - inspirational indeed.

Ben

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sounds like a grand day out

but why go alone..?

some of us cheshire set would surely have liked to do it with you

one of the others may have had a phone signal

and what if you had tripped, fallen, hurt yourself/gone on fire etc. in the middle of a field on your own.....

could be lying under the machine for a while waiting for someone to find you i the middle of nowhere

sorry for the downer but we need think of all possibilities, good or bad

Point taken Meds, but there was just something appealing about doing this solo and unassisted. It made it more of a challenge. Having the freedom to go where I wanted to go and make my own decisions was great although may be a little selfish. Someone mentioned on this forum last week about doing an unassisted Lands End to J O G. It's something I'd like to have a go at next year once I have a few more hours.

But if you are up for some long distance flying then I would gladly go with you. May be a trip from Winsford through North Wales when there is a nice easterly breeze! :lol:

Chris

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Sounds like an awesome flight Chris and certainly one I would be happy to fly along with. Still a little short on hours (Only 12 paramotor but 100 total air) I even thought in a mad moment about trying the solo LE to JOG trip too.

Maybe we should do it as flying buddies or something????

Anyway as Meds says some of us from the Cheshire lot would be up for something similar and a flight to Llandudno and back sounds cool.

Keep us all in touch and see when we can get up to give it a try.

:launchdance::launchdance::launchdance:

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Chris, it's a damn shame to hear about the equipment but congrats on an epic xc. In my view that's what this whole paramotoring malarky is all about. ;-) 100 miles is one of the check boxes I've still haven't ticked. Yet again I find myself listening to a story from you with envy (well all except the last bit). Dammit you're always one step ahead of me!

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Nice one mate. As I said equipment can be fixed quickly and easily, but the memory of an epic XC will be with you for some time. It seems to me that sometimes the retrieves can be as epic as the flight itself!

Hopefully will be able to join you soon on an xc. Never know - I might even be able to almost keep up with you on my new wing.

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You can be my wing man any day Doc!!!!! 8)

Well, why don't we try and organise an XC. We can start off with a small one initially. Unfortunatley I'm out of action for a few weeks but that can give us time to put our heads together.

How about we meet up for a pint one evening? Meds, Doc, Arcus and anyone else fancy an internet date??!! :wingover:

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