poz Posted July 15, 2010 Share Posted July 15, 2010 (edited) It would be very easy not to write this post, because I feel really really stupid and embarrassed. But, I feel that if my horrible experience prevents just one other pilot from a similar fate then my ego can take the hit. I'm getting set up on my own (mistake 1) in a big field near to my home, I've laid out my wing had a couple of nice practice forward launches and feel a little more confident. The wind is almost non-existant, but the best it's been for a while. I get my motor out of the car and run through the safety checks, before I attempt to start it. This is a clutched, pull start engine which requires me to firmly hold it in place with throttle in hand (I believe mistake 2) whilst I pull with the other hand. I had primed the engine and slowly pulled through once as I had been shown. Then I went to start the engine. It caught first time. In hindsight, the problem for me was that with my left hand. the one holding the throttle, which needs an extremely delicate touch, this hand also needs to strongly hold the frame because otherwise the pulling action pulls the paramotor round. Delicate and firm with the same hand. As the engine started I was unaware that I was inadvertantly squeezing the throttle. It took me completely unaware as the engine reved so quickly. The ground under the paramotor (mistake 3) was not completely flat although not uneven enough for me to notice before starting the engine. I was knocked off balance slightly enough for me to not be able to hold back the 35kg of thrust that it kicked out at that point and the paramotor came round on me from the left. This was all happening in a split second, but my instict was to grip the frame even more firmly to try and stop the paramotor moving but at the same time whilst trying to grip I was obviously gripping the throttle as well. Fortunately I figured out what was happening and just let go of the throttle just as the top of my shoulder met the propellor through the cage. Unfortunately the throttle hit the ground lever first and re-reved the engine just at the point of contact. This all happened in about half a second. I felt a tremendous bang to my shoulder and instictively pushed back and moved away. The paramotor fell over, cage down smashing the prop. I killed the engine and forced myself to look down at my shoulder. It wasn't pretty. My tshirt was completely shredded and there was blood gushing out of a deep wound. I was almost fascinated at how fast your situation can change. One minute I'm having a really pleasant time in a very nice, peaceful spot, then suddenly in a second everything has turned around. A million thoughts are running through my head. First and foremost I knew that I had to stabilise my injury and stem the bleeding. I did this with kitchen roll and pressure. Then I had to figure out whether or not I was going to loose consciousness anytime soon, which I decided I wasn't. Then I decided that I would need help, quickly. Lots and lots of pain now. There was no way I was going to call Nikki, my wife, I just couldn't. So I called my friend and very briefly explained my predicament. He shot out of the house and went to completely the wrong place (he's Spanish). In the meantime I'm trying to multi-task. There was no way I was going to leave my gear in that field, so whilst desperately trying not to loose too much blood, I somehow managed to gather up my wing and get it in the stuff bag, without covering it in blood, which was gushing. This really took it out of me, so I sat down and concentrated on the wound. I couldn't remove the pressure to have a look, so didn't really know the extent of the injury, but to be honest, at that moment I didn't want to. So I just sat there and drank water. The next task was to calm my friend when he eventually turned up and saw me. I guess I was not a pretty sight with my shredded t-shirt and covered in blood. He was pretty shuck up. Anyway, when we got to the hospital I saw what I had done. Basically the propellor, THROUGH THE NETTING had removed all the skin and flesh down to the bone from the top of my shoulder. Although the injury is pretty severe, I think I was really lucky that it wasn't a few inches higher up my neck. Damage to the paramotor was minimal. 2 netting cable ties and a prop. What have I learned? The netting doesn't offer much protection as it's flexible. Starting technique: I have been back to Pap assuming my starting technique was incorrect, but amazingly it was pretty spot on and works fine providing the engine doesn't suddenly rev up. As the starter pulley is on the lower right you tend to support the machine more on the right, so when it unexpectedly reved, it span round anti clockwise, meeting my left shoulder. Unfortunately this type of injury takes a long time to heal and might require some skin graft surgery. The position of it, just where the harness sits on my shoulder, is also unfortunate because it's going to stop me getting back in the saddle for the summer I know I've had a bad start and my confidence has taken a battering, but I am still excited about getting airbourne and will not accept these couple of incidents as 'a warning' that this is not for me, as some (especially loved ones) are suggesting. I just wish I had some support here to help me with my learning curve. Sorry about the long post, but I guarentee it was harder to write it than it was for you to read it Cheers Dan Edited July 15, 2010 by Guest Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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