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Dugald's Training Blog


dugald
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I guess all PPG enthusiasts can remember the moment that they decided that they just had to get into the sport. For me it was being on holiday at the sunny Baltic coast in Poland and seeing a guy floating around above the waves in a t-shirt and sandals with this huge motor attached to his back. I was with my father in law and as we dug another cold can of Tyskie out of the sand I told him in my finest Polish that "I am going to do that". He obviously understood what I was trying to say as I got a "yes, of course you are... :roll: " look in return.

The next day I had a look at the prices of kit and training. My heart sank. There was no way I could spend £6000 on training and kit. My wife just laughed when I told her, and pointed out that our car cost less than that. I had to put the idea aside which was a painful after a few days of delerious excitement.

A few months later I got a pay rise (from a boss who flies microlights and knew about my paramotoring ambitions) which would give me enough capital to get started with my training, if I also sold my motorbike. The wife wasn't happy and pointed out that we are supposed to be saving and the wage increase should go straight into the mortgage. I told her that my boss gave me the payrise specifically so that I could get a paramotor, which wasn't actually that far from the truth, and finally got my way.

I started my paraglider training with Cloubusters (Scotland) in October. I am signed up to get to CP level at paragliding, as I just love the feeling of gliding around silently and riding the air currents. I also like the idea of being able to take a flying setup with you when you go on a holiday abroad, even if you are going on a plane. Training with Peter and Dan has been great - we only get out one weekend in three but that's life. When we have been out the conditions haven't been soarable but good fun nonetheless and there is a great club atmosphere. I have been dragged through a bog and got a few scrapes and bruises, but nothing major. Here's me taking off on a rather still day at Abington:

[youtubevideo]

[/youtubevideo]

I have had around 6 days so far but some of them were like half days as the conditions weren't great - I think that's normal. Its always great to get out on the hill though. Recently Stuart joined and is also aiming to get to CP level and then convert to motoring (his blog is also on the forum).

I managed to scrape a bit of extra money together and have been watching for a good deal on a paramotor for quite a while. I decided on a Fresh Breeze Simonini a while back having heard good things about it and recently managed to get one in good condition with harness, helmet, headset, strobe and silex wing (which I am sending off for inspection) for £2800. The motor and wing were advertised as having 10 hrs flying time, and on close inspection this seems believable.

So now I am just shaking my fist at the weather and waiting (very impatiently) for the next flying day available! Can't wait for the day I finally get to take the motor out on the field. :D

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  • 3 weeks later...

At last was back out on the hill this weekend, and got a couple of steps closer to gettin my CP rating. Saturday was fantastic, and we were all soaring on a series of 20 minute flights at Abington West. This was the first day that I have been out in soarable conditions so it was quite an experience. The wind was fairly steady at around 11mph and when the sun came out the air became very buoyant, allowing us to get well up above the top of the hill.

Some of the stronger bits of lift were a bit scary at first - the compression at the top of the hill made it rather undesirable to get pushed back so I was doing a fair bit of into wind flying with hands up to stay forward. Flying amongst 8 other pilots on a small hill was also a new challenge, and on the first couple of flights I was nervous about hitting other gliders and got pushed out of the lift band. I thought I was doing fantastically well to stay aloft for so long, but when I switched to trying to descend I actually ended up climbing even higher.. so I obviously wasn't due to any skill on my part! In the end I managed to do a top landing. It was a fantastic day and I still can't get the smile off my face. The view once above the hill was an amazing 360 degree panorama, and the feeling of freedom, mild terror, and flying with a group of other pilots was just awesome.

Sunday was darker and colder and gustier, so we went up Abington East and I did lots of ground handling practice - how to kill the wing when getting dragged standing up (grabbing rear risers) , how to get the wing under control when getting dragged on the deck (pull one riser all the way in and just roll the wing up), how to engage big ears for descent, how to ground handle without looking up all the time, and how to ground handle using weight shift. It was interesting, but freezing!

Once I have got my CP sorted I will move on to gaining the required skills with the motor, which I can't wait for. I have almost all of my kit sorted (sending my Silex off for inspection today) - just a flying suit and a reserve to get - so I am desperate to get out on it! :P

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Very nice description of one of your first 'milestones' (staying up) - it sounds exactly how I remember it, and you covered quite a few tasks in one day. Don't worry about being pushed out of the lift band - I would much rather fly with people prepared to give way than those who want to hog the lift band no matter how dangerously close they are.

Wait till you hook your first proper thermal - if you feel the same mix of euphoria & terror that I did you will be writing a good few columns .... :lol:

I've been doing a fair bit of free flying this past week - there is nothing like sharing the spring thermals with buzzards, hawks and red kites. Hope you keep it up, as in some ways it is more rewarding tha motoring - although the motor can give you more freedom and just as much fun.

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  • 2 months later...

I finally got up under power a few weeks back after an initial failed first attempt (thanks to Stuart for recording this):

[youtubevideo]

[/youtubevideo]

On the first run I just didn't have the guts to go to full throttle as the wing seemed unsettled above me and I was worried that the throttle would just knock me over. On the second run I felt the same but I just had to force the fingers on the throttle to start squeezing and was surprised how quickly this resulted in takeoff!

The engine behaved well, as did the wing. I'd had concerns about the wing being too responsive but found it easy to ground handle and predictable when steering if applying right brake on the opposite side. I was too nervous to let go of the brakes and clip them in, so I wasn't able to get my mirror out to check fuel levels. I had 5 litres in when I took off so I decided to fly for about an hour around the LZ and then come in. After an hour I started to panic that I might already have been up too long. Had I been up an hour and a quarter already? Maybe an hour and a half? I quickly went in for landing, nervous that the engine would start spluttering.

Total flight time: 12 minutes

Total Fuel use: 1L

I blame the time distortion on the massive amounts of adrenaline pumping through my system!

Been grounded the last few weeks due to bad weather but can't wait to get out again.

Dug

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Nah, that's just the estimation I made when I got back down and looked at my watch (which I had cleverly taken off and put in my pocket before the flight). I also took the fuel burn into consideration - it was exaclty 1L and given that I was using a fair bit of throttle a lot of the time I thought if I'd been up for more than 15 minutes I would have used more than that? Mind you it was a calm day and I was flying without trims on, so who knows.

It felt like a lifetime though due to the nerves etc and was really exhausting - when I landed I felt like crawling off on my hands and knees and lying down for a while. I'm not complaining though - it was quite a rush :)

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