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Nil wind launch confusion


poz
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I'm a little confused about when to let go of the A's during a nil/low wind launch.

Until now I've understood that as soon as the wing arrives overhead, you let go of the A's to prevent the wing overflying you. However, I've just been reading a 10 point nil wind launch guide by Paul Williams, which as a relative newbie, I found really helpful and well written (if you're reading, thanks Paul :D ).

A 10 point zero / low wind speed launch technique check list

Paul Williams

During a lot of conversions with a lot of different paramotor pilots, it quickly became obvious that the launching phase was the one part that many had trouble with and still do. I think a lot of this has to do with paraglider pilots using paragliding launch techniques. Paragliding and paramotoring really are very different sports done in very different ways.

What I've written below is a ten-point list of does and don'ts when it comes to getting a foot launched microlight off the ground in light to zero wind conditions. This is also the system that we use in our paramotoring school and certainly seems to work well. Note; if there is even the slightest amount of wind, it is imperative that the glider is laid out as close to the wind line as possible. It is easier to get off in a true zero wind than a constantly switching light breeze.

1. Lay out the wing flat and clear ALL lines and tangles; you will not get another chance to do this. Pay special attention to the brake lines, cascades and wing tips.

2. Keep a tent peg in your harness pocket and push this through the attachment loops of your risers into the ground. Angling the peg will prevent it from being pulled out. Use this peg as an anchor to lay the wing out; pull the wing against the peg starting from the centre cells. This will ensure all lines are tensioned equally and inflation is near perfect. Don’t worry about the risers being pegged together at this stage; when the motor is attached, the risers will be around 42cm further apart and will let the centre of the wing inflate fractionally earlier than the tips which is exactly what you want. If you haven’t got a peg, the motor itself can be used as an anchor.

3. Put on the motor unit and start up. Walk over to the wing and attach yourself to the karabiners without pulling on the lines. Walking back a metre first will help here. Hold the risers at 10 to 2 position with the lines tensioned equally in each hand and walk forward to take up the slack. Moving from side to side will alter the forward position of your hands. Find the centre of the wing this way; your hands should be equal as should the riser pressure. Launching with the risers already tight does work for a lot of pilots; others like to step back a metre first and go from there.

4. Hold the quick links in your hands with the lines poking out of the top of your closed fists. This will help to stop the risers slipping out of your hands and the lines can be inserted neatly up the side of the throttle thus avoiding snags.

5. Now you’re ready to go. With the engine ticking over and your best foot forward, apply about 50% power, wait a second or two for the unit to settle and start moving forward. From this point on, it’s all about using some of the thrust to help with the launch, like a giant hand gently pushing you forward. To get the wing above your head you can lean into the pull as with a normal paragliding launch as long as you use no more than 50% power. It is very important that no extra power is applied until the wing is above your head and moving forward. Applying excess power at this phase will create a strong torque reaction that will pull down hard on one riser and push the other side up ensuring that the pilot gets spun around, dumped on their butt and break a propeller. Or you get forced into the ground and face planted instead!

6. Keep the same amount of power applied and keep forward pressure on the risers at all times. This is a balancing act; too much power may pull the risers out of your hands. Prevent this happening as the launch sequence will be ruined. Repeating on point 5, it is vital that no extra power is applied at this point.

7. As the wing arrives over head, the pressure in the risers drops almost to zero. This is the transition phase between the inflation and when the wing arrives overhead and begins to fly. Be aware of this and expect it. You must keep moving forward! This is the point at which paraglider pilots slow down to look up to see what's gone wrong. The tension will return to the risers within a few metres. Keep hold of the risers and keep moving forward. Hesitation here is what you are trying to avoid; you must commit fully to the launch.

8. You are not running off a mountain that could finish you if you happen to get it wrong. You are on a flat field. The worst that can happen is the wing inflates unevenly and veers off to one side. Even this can be corrected within reason by stepping back under the wing. Do not use just the brakes for this, it will ruin the launch; using as little brake input as possible seems to work best. It is now time to straighten your back, let the motor do the work and get the thrust line down.

9. DO NOT check the wing during the inflation and transition phase; it will cause you to hesitate. Also never, ever look over your shoulder or turn to look at the wing. If you want to check it, do this once you are on your final take off run but only ever look STRAIGHT UP. All phases of the paramotor launch are done looking ahead and moving in a straight line. You CANNOT turn to look at the wing at any time with the propeller spinning; this is how you get your lines caught in your propeller and/or end up on your back.

10. Smoothly apply full power and run with long strides. Only at the point of lift off release the risers and feel with the brakes for the lift off point. Once off the ground, gently release the brakes to attain good airspeed and climb out. The rest is up to you!

Main points to recap are:

a) Layout glider correctly

b) Use the same amount of power throughout the inflation stage and keep moving

c) Stay on the risers longer than for a hill launch

d) Never, ever look behind or over your shoulder

e) Lean back and let the motor do the work.

I hope this article saves few litres of sweat in the future! The only part that confused me was

As I said I thought this was a nice guide. The only part that confused me was point 10 where he says to keep hold of the A's until the point of take off.

Personally, I like the sound of that and think I'd find it easier.

Any opinions?

Dan

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when to let go of the A's during a nil/low wind launch......

I depends on which wing you are launching.

What wing do you have?

also

the bit about applying 50% power, depends on the motor, with some motors you can use more power or full power during inflation without too much torque effect.

Paul D

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Hi Dan,

Good guide, I have to agree with pete_b with the necessity for full commitment to launch:

From point 7 - 'You must keep moving forward!......... you must commit fully to the launch.'

I always pull all the lines out taught, this also ensures there are no tangles.

Personally I let go of the As when I can feel that there is good tension in the risers, I guess it is at about 85% of the travel to fully overhead. I don't so much hold on to the risers as have the As just hooked over my outstretched thumbs, then with my arms moving with an upward arc during inflation the risers lift off my thumbs when the wing is almost overhead. This is the moment I also start to apply power.

For low airtime pilots it is difficult to get the feel through the risers whilst there is seemingly so much else going on.

Cheers,

Alan

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2 - Anyone forward launched with a ^ shaped layout? (pull the centre 4/5 cells back about 3 metres.) Works well and always inflates the middle cells first.

I've also forward launched with 'big ears' a few times. (check your wing recovery stats first). This helps delay the inflation of the outer cells and helps in conditions which are marginal on reverse or forward.

Try some 'dry' test runs next time.

7 - "Low airtime" paraglider pilots - agreed. I haven't looked at my wing on any type of a forward launch for years. You know when it's right, you can 'feel it' and you can feel it when it's wrong .....

Richard

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  • 7 years later...

I'm very new to motoring, but came from paragliding, and consider my self pretty proficient at ground handling and forward launching from a flat field as most of my paragliding is doen from a Tow.

When I was learning I was/am pleased to say I think I pretty much had all my forward launches in Very little to no wind successful.  They seemed to get worst not better more I did it, think I might have been rushing the set-up a little as I would normally go out late in the evening trying to get the last 1/2 or  hour of day light if I was lucky.    What I gained from getting in wrong was not being overly anal about laying the wing out to perfection.  More time I spend sorting the lines, getting the wing in that sweet spot, the easier the launch was.

My biggest issues now are not being able o find a comfortable, reliable place to hodl the risers and brakes with the throttle.  I have switched to a chameleon finger throttle and the verdict is out whether I like it or not.   The on/off switch is a little too sensitive and I have inadvertantly stopped the engine in mid run or just after take off, or if I don't do that, I ahve had the A riser catch on the throttle and struggled to release it at the same time as the opposite one. 

wing for me is a 26m Speedster 2.

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Hi, I have been out on the beach in zero wind this week practising with the harness on. I have always struggled with zero wind as I just don't have enough oomph to run well (old and worn out). Got back to perfect launches again now. On Roadster wing, trimmers 3/4 out, wing laid out REALLY well and wait for any breath of wind to be in the direction I laid it out! It is worth a few mins wait just to get it right. I too think I was rushing a little before.

I then strapped the machine on....and away first time, thankfully, was knackered!

 

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Reading my post, from 7 years ago, I would just like to congratulate myself for doing an adequate job of ....still being alive.  

What's more, I'm still upright and more specifically, still foot launching in nil wind at 54yrs old and, like AndyB, a fooked up back. 

Mind you, it must funny watching us two fly together. For anybody watching It must be one of those WTF? scenes.

I can't imagine not being able to take to the skies though. I think when that happens, it'll be my cue to buy myself a tank of Nitrogen and a divers mask.

Dan

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We should organise an 'old farts' cross country charity flight, with the beneficiary being a new charity I will set up tasked with keeping old farts airborne. 

We could fly cross country from Lands End to.....erm  that cafe, you know, the one on the A30, 4 miles from Lands End :)

Ground crew, amongst others would need to consist of:

A Chiropractor, Meals on wheels....a priest, 

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1 hour ago, poz said:

organise an 'old farts' cross country charity flight

That just sounds like a perfect meeting.  

Over 55's Old Farts Fly-in.  What a laugh and some many stories told afterwards.  BUT not talking  para-crap, but para-med.  All about illness and medical complaints or appointments.

 

Should change my name to OldSquaddie - So bloody true

 

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2 hours ago, poz said:

We should organise an 'old farts' cross country charity flight, with the beneficiary being a new charity I will set up tasked with keeping old farts airborne. 

We could fly cross country from Lands End to.....erm  that cafe, you know, the one on the A30, 4 miles from Lands End :)

Ground crew, amongst others would need to consist of:

A Chiropractor, Meals on wheels....a priest, 

Could we have tow assisted launch as well, in case of low wind?

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13 hours ago, poz said:

We should organise an 'old farts' cross country charity flight, with the beneficiary being a new charity I will set up tasked with keeping old farts airborne. 

We could fly cross country from Lands End to.....erm  that cafe, you know, the one on the A30, 4 miles from Lands End :)

Ground crew, amongst others would need to consist of:

A Chiropractor, Meals on wheels....a priest, 

This is the funniest post I've read in a long time!

However I suspect some of you have overlooked the need to fit a commode flap to your seat. Nothing worse than an old timer blowing a piss smell everywhere!

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Tried zero wind launch off Playa Volador this morning. 

At ground level there was zero wind. At 10 feet up, still zero. With wind sock fully up, just a smidgin, but from land to sea, so launch was from the sea....up the beach. It is not steep, but steep enough to feel like a mountain when forward launching! Took 2 trys. :) I will not be doing this again!!!!

 

20171020_083322.jpg

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1 hour ago, AndyB said:

Tried zero wind launch off Playa Volador this morning. 

At ground level there was zero wind. At 10 feet up, still zero. With wind sock fully up, just a smidgin, but from land to sea, so launch was from the sea....up the beach. It is not steep, but steep enough to feel like a mountain when forward launching! Took 2 trys. :) I will not be doing this again!!!!

 

20171020_083322.jpg

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You live and learn, hopefully you learn and live as well. 

You should post that MRI of your back on here, it would make others appreciate just how hard an uphill, nil wind, soft sand launch can get. Well, done you. In awe buddy!

On another (purely constructive) note, you really need to learn the basics of editing a video down to a size that doesn't make you contemplate how short life is. Bit of carefully chosen tunes would also help add a further dimension to it, we all know what a 2 stroke sounds like. Bloody awful!

Must get a flight in before you bugger off back to Blighty.

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Burst disc. In the the cross section the disc is about twice the size it should be.

Both the discs above that have also burst and the 5 above that have lost their core and gone solid - they should have white in the centre of the disc when they are soft. Black is bad. 

The 2 discs below have been fused...but then 10 years got infected (discitis). The bacteria are small enough to live in the lattice structure of the titanium metalwork, so it had to be removed.

The first pic below is the L3/4 disc, the next one the L2/3 disc, which has burst to the left side.

 

Screenshot (25).png

Screenshot (24).png

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Watching Andy launch in nil wind, you have to wonder which is going to collapse first, his wing ... or his spinal column. 

Probably most of us over 50 have got questionable spinal health, but of course Andy has to take it to a whole new level :) 

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5 hours ago, AndyB said:

lol. You do pretty well yourself for a knackered back. Left me standing, well sitting, watching you go! It's since watching you make it look easy that I have been out practising. 

Managed not to do the catherine wheel thing again though!

I'm going to have to grass you up on this one mate, just because it was soooo spectacular.

Andy correctly practices the starting method of putting the motor on his back before firing it up, then bends forward to rev the engine, warming it up pre-flight.

I was watching his procedure, envious of his electric start, when he revved it up to full pelt. suddenly his motor erupts like a firework. The only way to describe it is like this; if you have seen old black and white film footage of when man was trying to achieve flight, one of the dudes straps a rocket to his back and fires himself off, flapping a pair of feather wings before hitting the dirt, haha. In hindsight, funny as fook.

The cause: When Andy changed his prop he managed to get one blade the wrong way round causing it to clash and lock against the gear casing. The clutch wanted everyone to know how pissed off it was, so it lit up the morning sky, as it tried to melt the tank and take us all out. Of course, Andy couldn't see any of this as he was bent forward in his speed skating position, and he couldn't hear me screaming through his ear defenders or see me racing toward him Steve Austin style...

It's funny how in situations like this where you need it to stop, like now, everything goes into slow motion. 

It was so dramatic that I was convinced he'd just written off his posh new super-light engine.

As it happens it turns out that his clutch just so happens to be a bit of a drama queen, and once the whole  thing stopped glowing, it fired up and everything worked perfectly well. Amazing!

 

Edited by poz
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