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Lands End to John O'Groats Solo Paramotor 2010


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Ok, so here's the deal. August 2009 John Carver flew from LE to JOG in a flyke and when he finished someone on this forum quipped...

"So who's going to be the first in a paramotor then."

Somewhat foolishly I decided to have a try. Even more foolishly I started to tell as many people as I could to make sure I didn't back out.

So now I am beginning to wonder what I have got myself roped in to.

Firstly I need an answer to a question.

Has anyone done this solo unassisted before? (With proof)

I have thought about doing it unassisted but it sounds bloody hard. And if it has already been done then I may as well take a back up team to help.

If it hasn't been done before then a little bit of me (a very little bit of me) would like to try it unsupported only to do something no-one has ever done yet. ( I am getting to be 50 this year and so I am railing against the darkness.......)

Either way I am going to do it, so I have a plan.

Firstly I need to get more hours in. I started paramotoring in March 2009 and I have done roughly 9 hours only. ( Need more practice at take offs and landings.)

Next I need to try landing out in someone else's field somewhere. Got somewhere in mind.

Next I need to try a two hop stop including one stop for petrol near a petrol station (presumably).

Next I need to try and complete a coast to coast.

Then the big one.

I am naturally doing it for charity. I will be trying to raise as much as possible for the Christie Hospital in Manchester which happens to be the first hospital I ever worked in. I have set up a link on the justgiving website calling my project 'Just Wing It." I will give you all the proper link later when I know it is working.

I have an iPhone with MotionX GPS on it and I have an old version of the FlyMap dedicated GPS as back up.

I have a Skywalk Tornado paramotor with a Corsair Black Devil motor and a 110 wooden aerobat prop. It has a 13 ltr fuel tank. I have a 29m Dudek Synthesis with my logo written all over it.

I have investigated a whole heap of ultralight camping stuff and even found two ten litre 'panniers' to go on either side of the seat to carry the stuff in.

So what else do I need?

A bit of me wants someone to tell me not to be such a prat and forget it, but actually I am really looking forward to it. Mostly I do want to make sure I succeed. A busted prop 400 yards from Land's End would look a bit crap!!

So help me please.

Routes, advice, places to stay, petrol stations with easy to land in fields near by....

Hints suggestions, and yes, eventually, as much money as you can provide. The Christie is a great Cancer hospital and looks after most of the people of the North west so it does a really great job.

There is a long time between now and when the attempt will be made (roughly August depending on the Weather obviously.) And lots of work and preparation to be done.

But I hope this posting serves to light my fuse and get me going.

All assistance gratefully accepted. But first off has anyone done it unassisted before??

:propbreak::propbreak::propbreak:

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I am sure that if you ask Norman nicely he will furnish you with the tip to tip route. :-)

Anything you think the PMC can do to assist (while remaining unassisted of course) please let me know

Good luck and very well done for stepping up!

SW :D

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Hi Flying Doc.

What about doing it with somebody. Still un-supported! It has never been done. John Carver nearly did it unsupported but did have help on only his first leg and did stop at peoples houses en-route. He stayed at my house the night before he set off.

Its something I have been looking at for some time. I have been thinking more along the lines of being at a state of readiness waiting for the best conditions, then going for it at short notice and complete it in 2 or 3 days flying. 10-15mph assisted wind direction, post cold front high pressure...

Michel Carnet has spoken about doing it in a single day but I think the weather window for achieving that, and everything coming together on the day would be impossible/very difficult for anyone who has a proper career to consider!

Thoughts....

The tip to tip route is too long and can be shortened++ by planning a more direct route. I have the route.

Fuel economy, Black Devil and 110 prop = 5 ltrs an hour max unless you weigh nothing. 2 hour endurance? not enough.

Spare prop. Wife at home with courier service details probably best.

You could carry a two part Carb' fibre type prop somewhere.

Detachable fuel tank handy but rare on most models. Ive put a 20 ltr marine tank on my FB sportix in place of the 11 ltr standard tank. Not easy to remove tho. Could be adapted to make easier to remove.

Tools more important than luxary sleeping items. Wing is your home.

Know your engine and carry the obvious spares, ie drive belt, carb membrane replacement, cable ties, etc...

Long flights are hard work, creates complacency and introduces silly mistakes ie taking off with speed bar clip disconected and wrecking prop etc... Therefore plan and stick to rigid protocol for pre flight checks. maintain discipline at all times.

Be determined but don't let the goal force you to make uncharacteristic decisions.

I flew across france in a competition called Le Raid in 2006 and was awarded a trophy at the end. When I think back now I don't know how I managed it with so little planning and prep'. I was very lucky not to come unstuck. Luck is not always your friend.

Richard Whitmarsh (07772276590)

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Whitters is right ref the route of course. The T2T route was generated with specific requirements in mind, we wanted to hit as many PMC clubs as we could Northbound. That sent the guys up the centre of the country.

The 'solo' route would cut a large corner.

Why not try a 'Fighting Pair'?

Two guys co-operating going north with a single vehicle as support. Perhaps two guys to share driving and support tasks. Doing it unsupported relies heavily on luck that nothing breaks - how likely is that across 40 hours of flying?

Carrying spares and a bivi plus max fuel in a solo lift is.... ask the lads. LOL

The 'Pair' unit would be very compact and flexible, you might even pit two 'Fighting Pairs' against each other in a race of sorts launched at at an interval?

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I agree with Whitters. Your motor and prop are not conducive to the goal you want to achieve. Infact I would go so far as to say that although it is fine for pleasure flying It really is one of the worst combos for economy based distance flying. I know from experience. If you are light then I suggest you use a 125cm propped Top80 or if you want more grunt go for a 122cm propped Fresh Breeze prepped Simonini.

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Hi Guys,

Thanks for all the input. Thanks Meds yes I am looking forward to April to get a lot of practice under my belt. Hopefully a bit before then too would be good.

Whilst I understand all the comments about a different set up with a less thirsty motor and a bigger prop I do have only the one set of kit so it will have to do. Means me stopping a bit more often but???

I thought the bit about the 10 ltrs had been settled and we could carry as much as we can get off the floor with. Personally I struggle with anything more than 10 ltrs anyway( I have a 13 ltr tank)

One obvious problem is getting the fuel to the tank. Perhaps a dismountable fuel tank like the baileys would be better but again this is the only one I've got. Any suggestions for simple mod?

Also would a fuel gauge be a simple and reliable addition with little weight penalty?

Helimed I get the idea of a 'Buddy Route' and would certainly be keen for the practice runs but I suppose the point is it has never been done solo before??? Perhaps I am just mad.....

If you have the details of a more direct route Norman then a pm would be much appreciated.

Still lots of preparation to do prior to the main event. I'll be seeing some of you in April so we'll talk some more there I guess.

Cheers.

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Hi Doc,

Perhaps the route should be made by each landing being near a garage with a decent landing field behind. Then its just a few yards to walk with the motor each time.

where would you carry the spare oil (or are you using a 4 stroke engine) If you don't have at least one ground crew and vehicle l hope you don't need spares.

Lastly, good luck in April. The flyke almost made it but then he had more mechanical stuff to deal with.

Last lastly, l hope the weather behaves for you.

All the best Mike :)8)

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Thanks for those links Whitters, makes some good reading.

The more I read the more it seems like the weather and luck will play the biggest part in the success.

Still makes it a good challenge though....

Supported or Unsupported that is the challenge.

Supported has been done. ???????? but does that matter?

In the words of Pooh "Think, think, think."

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Assuming you are not doing it as a timed thing (which would depend 100% on the weather anyway) I can't see any reason why it would not be possible to solo the trip AND BE THE FIRST!! :-)

Just take your time, enjoy the process, and I am sure you will do it.

If you end up needing a spare prop (assuming you can't work out a way of carrying one) you could get it shipped to the a near by address on a next day delivery.

Unassisted as I see it, means you leave on your own, but I am sure you will be helped along the way with things like food and a bed from people that you meet along the way. (I recon that's fair game)

Go for it! :-)

SW :D

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I guess it depends on your view of the task and the experience being brought forward to challenge it. If I tried to climb Snowdon in my undies not knowing one end of a rope from the other, how likely would it be that I might be the first successful free climber to conquer it? (Not a direct comparison and a bit over the top but you take the point).

How much better to do it once supported then do it again sometime afterwards benefiting from the lessons etc? I only offer another perspective, it just flattens the task difficulty gradient going at it with just a few tricks in the bag.

Does it actually make that much difference? When it has been done unsupported someone will come along and do it unsupported North to South.

In actuality that is the best direction if we are looking at lifing/sorability anyway - the bummer is the prevailing winds. Wait for a summer time Northerly? Where do you stop - just enjoy the challenge that you stand a decent chance of meeting.

What looks difficult now will have a perspective and volume after 50 hours of XC flying. Flying when you feel like it or when it looks a fine day to be up there is a very different proposition from being driven by the clock against the weather. Having someone to consult and bounce your ideas off takes away a lot of risk and uncertainty and points toward a higher probability of success.

Just another perspective.... :wink:

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Hi Doc,

The CAA stated its intention to remove the 10 litre rule from Article 155 back in July 2009. The link to the letter on the CAA website is http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/1885/20090703 ... Intent.pdf

The Air Navigation Order which would incorporate the change has recently been reissued as ANO 2009 but the change to the definition of a self-propelled hang glider as indicated by the Letter of Intent was not included. According to CAA Policy makers it is expected that the amendment will be incorporated at the next change to the ANO which is due to be approved in early April 2010. The interpretation section is now Article 255.

So if you are doing the trip in the summer fuel load may not be an issue. :)

Equipment ( motors & wings ) are influenced very much by who teaches you. However if XC is to be your thing its definately worth considering a 4 stroke as fuel usage is so much better than 2 strokes and there's no messing about with oil when landing out to refuel.

Its worth reading the article in this months edition of Paramotor Magazine which gives a balanced view of the pros & cons of reflex wings. XC flying can mean changes in conditions for many reasons and a stable reflex wing has certainly given me confidence to keep flying through turbulent conditions even if the buttock clenches don't seem to get any less.

As for fuel gauges I have found this really frustrating. I couldn't find a fuel guage that satisfied my requirements on any paramotor forums and most don't seem to bother. But it bothers me & I have spent a lot of time researching on the web. Fuel flow sensors would have been the best solution but the relatively low flow rates means they are generaly laboratory type products. I spoke to many manufacturers and all felt the pulsing of the fuel to the carb would create inaccuracy of +/- 5% which is 0.5 litres adrift on just 10 litre fuel. I have finally plumped for a fuel sensor (gauge) which I take delivery at the end of this month. It sences fuel every 2mm so I should be able to see a 1% change in fuel. It has a nice little display which will sit alongside my sat nav. I will get Paul Bailley to produce me a retangle fuel tank rathar the tapered tanks as this will mean a 2mm drop in fuel level is the same at the top as at the bottom. The only downside is the cost and think many would bulk at what I have been prepared to pay.

Hope the attempt goes well. If you are ever near the Wash give me a shout.

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Thanks for those links Whitters, makes some good reading.

The more I read the more it seems like the weather and luck will play the biggest part in the success.

Still makes it a good challenge though....

Supported or Unsupported that is the challenge.

Supported has been done. ???????? but does that matter?

In the words of Pooh "Think, think, think."

Thats exactly why I think the way to improve chances of success is to be at a state of readiness and wait for the weather window rather than hope the weather will be good on a planned date. Three days hard flying is realistic for this task.

I might have a go at it myself this summer.

There are other tasks I really fancy too. Lands End to Dover along the coast for a nice leisurely long weekend task.

I would love to jump the channel, touch down frogside, glass of el-vino and return. (alcohol free of course).

Summer is coming people, what a great sport this is. I am having a life style change this year, less work more play. Looking forward to meeting and flying with you all this year.

Whitters. :wingover:

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