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Phil's training 2011


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Yesterday I finally took my first proper steps into the world of Paramotoring.

I have no idea where it came from but I was always into aircraft & flying when I was a kid, but as I grew up that fell by the wayside.

I saw a magazine article about paramotoring around 10 years ago & casually thought that at some point that could be a fun way into the air. That desire to fly never really went away & I visited a few local schools around 4 years ago but I just never had enough money to afford the kit & I never really felt comfortable with the instructors that I met at the time.

I recently started working in Surrey & started seeing Paramotors buzzing around the area & now that the loans are all paid off & I know I have a bit of job security I thought sod it, it's now or never.

I chose to train with Steve Haze as he is local & when I visited he seemed a genuine bloke.

I started yesterday & as the weather has been a bit blowy over the last couple of days we have made a start on the theory side of things. Although I realise this is important the prospect of getting hands on with some of the equipment is what I'm really looking forwards to. The weather looks promising tomorrow so fingers crossed...

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Well week 1 is now at an end & my head is swimming following the navigation & air law lessons. I never realised that there would be so much involved in reading a map (which i THOUGHT I was OK at) & planning a route, especially if we need to start getting involved with crosswind components. Maths was never my strong point, but I suppose now is as good a time as any to start learning - mind you the wind components iPhone app is looking pretty good right now!

The weather has behaved itself, allowing us out for a whole day of ground handling. We even came away with a suntan!

Everything I thought I knew about ground handling seemed to be wrong. The problem with trying to use a 15 year old porous wing to practice with is that it is as responsive & fun to handle as my bedsheet. Still I'm impressed that I managed to occasionally manage to get it overhead & appear to be in control of it. I even got a little bit of airtime, with Steve pushing me across the field, which was a massive buzz.

As we get further into the course I'm increasingly looking forwards to actually getting to the point of doing some flying, although there's still quite a bit to do before I actually get to that point. Still lots to look forwards to over the next few weeks (fingers crossed on the weather). It will also be good to have a look at Steve's new Bulldog Spirit (school machine) as it is on my shortlist so I will have a good chance to see it up close & hopefully fly it.

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The Bulldog will definitely be in the Para-Wagon (my van) along with the hang-test rig so that people can try it on to see how comfortable it is. (the answer = very!) 8)

Weather outlook for this week looks better.

It'd be really great to get some flyable days and get you in the air, Phil.

All the best

Steve

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Well now the crappy winds of yesterday have settled down a bit it was time to get out into the field again today.

We started the day by meeting up & watching Luke take off & do a quick circuit before landing again. The winds were still a bit lively for him to stay up for long. However it was good to see a Paramotor in action from close up & also to have a chat to a new pilot & pick up more information & opinions. Although we were not training as such it was still a useful couple of hours. I'm starting to feel a bit like a sponge sucking up info & opinions whenever I can.

As the winds were still a bit lively Steve made the decision to move to a more sheltered field, which turned out to be the right move. The field we ended up in was fantastic & the mini wings soon came out. I love the way they are so lively & need reasonably fast, precise inputs on the controls & the fact that they react instantly. I managed to reverse launch, stabilize the wing overhead, turn & run down the field controlling the wing (after a fashion), then turning back & bringing the wing back down again. All whilst trying to look as cool as possible for the few people who stopped to have a look.

After watching Steve demonstrate his skills I even managed a couple of reverse launches with my hands off the controls, however the expected hoards of female admirers failed to appear! Oh well I'll keep trying.

After the low of yesterday today was just what we needed & we all left the field on a high. If a good day ground handling puts us in such a good mood I can't wait to get up into the air. Fingers crossed that day will come soon!

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Well we've only had one more day where we could get anything done, due to the continuing winds & even then we were pushing things a bit.

Thursday morning was a touch blustery but it looked do-able so out with the mini wings. As soon as they were out of the bags the wind typically disappeared. Change of plan & the Go Fly was bought out then the fun began. I spent about 15 minutes ground handling before the wind picked up & started gusting again, just enough to start picking me up so we stopped again. As the wind wasn't dropping we switched back to the mini wings. The wind progressively picked up throughout the day ending up in Steve & I having a really fun session of mini wing wars in some really gnarly thermic wind gusts. I would like to day that I kicked Steves butt, but I really didn't. I'm really starting to enjoy handling the wings now & am starting to really feel relaxed & at one with them, although I realise I have a long way to go before I am genuinely any good at GH.

For a number of reasons I now cannot train until next Thursday morning, which coincides with the start of the calmer weather. Hopefully I will be able to get my feet off the floor sometime over the next 4 days, but for now I have put in my order for a Dudek Synthesis so I am slowly getting there!

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Possibly see you Thursday Phil?

Went over to Epson Racecourse last week with Sid (from Brighton), and that masochist Mr. Haze had us running UPHILL into wind...........with miniwings and the Dudek 29!!

His relaxed position whilst reclining on the balled wings, and shouting into the radio at me to run faster, makes me want to return to the lazy days of instructing......

I'll make him earn his money, just you see!! :wink::wink:

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Well it's finally happened. Arrived at Barry's field at 7am & the weather was perfect. We quickly got ourselves sorted, put the motor on & practised a bit of ground handling, ran the motor up to feel the power & then it was time to do it for real. Take off was good. The flight was a bit of a sensory overload & the landing is best forgotton - however I can vouch that Bulldogs have got strong cages.

Hopefully Steve will get his go this evening.

Amazing experience, I want more

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Well done Phil, welcome to the band of paramotor pilots :!::D

'The flight was a bit of a sensory overload & the landing is best forgotton' - similar for a lot of us but bl**dy great ehh?

You can't beat it, keep up the amusingly written blog Phil,

Cheers,

Alan

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Thanks for the positive comments guys!

I'll just add a bit to what I've already written earlier today. It was fantastic & I just wanted to tell the world (or at least anyone who will listen).

Steve also had his first flight today & like me arrived back on Terra Firma a bit overawed - although his landing went a lot better than mine (git).

We then both went up for our second flights. This time my landing could almost be described as a landing (The word crash might be a bit harsh for the first attempt, but not too far from the truth - although no serious damage was done).

The second landing was preceded by a lovely smooth glide in from around 500 feet & I could almost sense where I would end up. It just felt so controlled & comfortable, I even managed to take in a bit of the view - it's funny what you notice from the air that you just don't see from ground level.

The whole experience was a lot more enjoyable in that we had some idea of how things would feel, so the whole adrenaline thing was a lot more controlled.

I'm now grinning like a fool & feeling very relaxed & at ease with the world - I hope every flight makes me feel like this. Time to crack open a beer!

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- I hope every flight makes me feel like this.

Apart from the scary ones :shock: I've not had any fortunately.

The trick is to avoid those, stay within your personal comfort zone.

I'm now grinning like a fool & feeling very relaxed & at ease with the world . Time to crack open a beer!

This is of course why we keep doing it.

Enjoy your beer cheers.gif

Alan

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Done a bit more today, however the air was a bit lively so no flying. However good to keep working at the GH.

TBH today was probably one of my worst days of training so far - my fault entirely. I'll get the excuses out of the way first so you have something to take the mick out of! I think the main problems were I was tired (physically & mentally), a bit dehydrated & suffering from being out in yesterdays sun - yeah I know MTFU!

My brain was just not computing simple things that I have been doing easily on previous days like when Steve is shouting "turn back into wind" & I blatantly turned the wrong way. Not good & I was starting to become annoyed at myself.

I was also struggling to come to grips with my new wing, which requires different inputs to get it to do what I want. I'm starting to see how different wings have totally different handling characteristics. I guess this also holds true with the motors.

However I was feeling stubborn (& pi**ed off with myself) so I kept struggling &, with some help from Steve, finally started to get a grip of myself & the wing. It turned out I wasn't doing anything drastically wrong & a couple of small tweeks were all that was needed to make things come good, I just don't yet have the experience to be able to adjust to the wing on my own yet , but once I was shown what to do it became easy & you start to question why you couldn't have sussed it out for yourself.

I decided to end the day on a (moderate) high & quit whilst I was ahead.

Time to get a good long sleep before going again tomorrow, I am struggling to stay awake so it's time to go & get my head down.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well I can honestly say that today has been the best day yet!

Luckily the workload I was expecting didn't materialise & I managed to get a couple of days off work to coincide with the good weather that was forecast.

On the way to Barry's field I could see a baloon up, which seemed like a good omen & immediately put me into a good mood.

Had 2 good flights this morning & with the help of a nice steady breeze managed to land on my feet both times (it had to happen eventually). I think Steve was a bit relieved as I'm sure he had visions of taking his Bulldog home in component parts.

The wind picked up around half past nine, so flying stopped for the day, which allowed a couple of other lads to start practising their ground handling. It was good to be able to watch them & give them a few pointers now & then - it's amazing how you have to think about what's going on before explaining it to somebody else, but it really helps to know that I'm starting to get my head around things.

Towards the end of the day, once the weather had calmed back down, it was time to go up again. It was great to see some other pilots turn up, although the pressure to perform also insreased a bit with a much more critical audience, still at least I was mentally focused.

I had a total of 4 flights in the evening. I managed my customary bit of damage to the Bulldog by kicking a great lump of (freshly cut) grass into the cage, which then pushed it into the exhaust & melted a couple of the strings - I promise to try not to hurt it any more from now on!

The high point was a really nice controlled landing ending up on my feet & then discovering it had been video'd too & a bit of a longer flight to end the day. I'm starting to look around & really enjoy the view now, including the surreal experience of looking down onto another Paramotor, 3 baloons in the distance, watching a footie game from the best seat possible, the beautiful sunset etc etc

Once everyone was back down it was great to be able to say hello & to see what a friendly, helpful group of people Paramotor pilots appear to be. I could not have asked for a better day, however I hope Steve manages to get his, somewhat troublesome, motor working. I could see he was itching to have a fly but things just didn't work out as he would have wanted, fingers crossed it will be sorted soon.

Hope tomowwow allows another couple of flights, but for now I more than happy with today.

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Today was the second day we spent down Barry's field, however the perfect conditions of yesterday were not quite so perfect today. I still managed a couple of flights this morning. My total number of flights is now just into double figures, so a little milestone reached. I'm now also over 50% successful at landing on my feet, but to be honest I think Steve's being a bit generous here, however I'll take it (one today was a bit of a stumble).

Today's first mission was a mid air engine restart which went without a hitch & actually didn't scare me as much as I thought it might, my trust in the equipment is increasing more & more every time I fly.

Flight 2 & Steve told me that I was to try to plan my own approach, which is actually a lot easier said than done:

Attempt 1 & I erred on the side of caution & had a nice high altitude pass of the field.

Attempt 2 was too short & was a nice low level pass of the field (a foot drag was tempting).

Attempt 3 & I think Steve was getting worried that I might run out of fuel soon (I started with plenty), & that the thermals were starting to kick off so he talked me downas he could see that one getting ballsed up too. Still at least I landed on my feet!

Both today's take offs were reverse launches, my first flights taking off like that & both went fairly well. So overall a lot of good experience gained. It was also more lively in the air than I had felt before but this was actually really enjoyable & added to the whole flying experience for me.

The rest of the day was spent ground handling the Synth & having a play on the mini wings (such good fun!) & working on my tan.

The weather isn't looking too good for a while now so it looks like I'll be grounded for a bit, so I'll take the opportunity to get lots more ground handling practice in until the weather becomes flyable again, fingers crossed that happens soon.

I'll see if I've got any decent photo's & bung then on here too.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I couldn't believe that it's almost been a month since I last managed to get off the ground. At last the run of bad weather has let up so I quickly managed to haggle another couple of days off work so that I could get back under a wing.

It was also good to catch up with some recognizable faces that are now starting to become a bit more familiar.

My first flight this morning felt like my first ever flight & was a great lesson in how not to do it - it was a major step backwards & not a great start to the day. Steve kept going with me though & put me back up straight away & after a few more flights things were starting to gradually click again. At least by the time I'd finished I had managed to stop landing on the motor, my knees & anywhere else I wouldn't recommend & was no longer using my face as a brake.

I'm now being left to my own devices a bit more when it comes to taking off & planning my landings. Take offs are something I seem able to do reasonably well, it's just the landings that I've really got to get nailed down, so I know where I have to concentrate the hardest.

Paramotoring, more than anything else I've ever done, is definitely something you have to keep doing as much as possible to keep at a proficient level.

The afternoon was spent on Epsom Downs, where the wind conditions were perfect. It was a real confidence booster to be able to really get a grip of the wings & prove to myself that I could still control it.

Now that my brain is in the right place I'm looking forwards to another good day flying tomorrow.

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Phil puts himself down a lot here folks. He's doing really well! :D

He only had one not-so-great landing where he used the cage as feet. Operation "Kill Steve's Bulldog Paramotor" is so far unsuccessful and Phil is really progressing well!

The other time he didn't quite manage a great landing was just because he drifted off the wind-line ever-so-slightly at the last minute - and this is all part of the learning process.

And folks...he didn't use his face as a brake....not that it couldn't do with a bit of rubbing along on the ground to improve his looks! :lol::wink:

The wind at Epsom Downs was just perfect this afternoon. Such a laminar flow. No gusts (aside from that one which caught us all by surprise a little!) and great conditions for really feeling what was going on with the wing.

It was a good day!

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Well the day has finally come when I managed every landing on my feet!!! ( all 6 of em - might have been 7, I was enjoying myself too much to care really!!). The Bulldog lives on.

This morning was a bit too gusty for me to go up & judging by how much Steve was getting hit by the gusts when he went up to test the air I was more than happy to stay on the ground.

The sun was out, so as I slowly started to burn myself to a deep lobster red, I was treated to some classy entertainment involving 2 of the other trainees running down the field, one under a wing & the other discovering he could run backwards at speed, trying to have a race to a soundtrack of "run Forrest RUN' & "oh look I can run backwards as well".

As the wind slowly started to die down I started to get set up for some more practice flights. I honestly can't remember how many I did (think it was 4 but could have been 5), but I did manage to land every one of them on my feet - so at last I seem to be getting the idea. About bloody time - I could almost hear Steve sigh with relief each time. I also managed to land on a variety of spots on the field, none of which were quite where I had aimed to be, but again I was starting to get closer - apparently landing at the bottom of the field, running to the correct spot & then dropping the wing doesn't count?

There were some balloons starting to appear in the distance so Steve let me go for a bit of a potter around with my GoPro on which was just fantastic & one of the things that I have always wanted to do since I first decided to take up paramotoring. I also managed to let the trims out, zoom around at high speed for a bit, bring the trims in & come in for my best effort at hitting the correct landing spot yet. I'm really chuffed with that video!

My final flight was a stab at the navigation task which taught me that I really need to learn to program my GPS, however I wasn't upset as I should be that I made a complete cock up because I had a completely awesome 20-30 minutes of pottering around a beautiful piece of calm,sunny sky counting the hot air balloons (8 of them!!) & just taking in the view. I will have a better attempt next time though.

Overall I managed to achieve everything that I had hoped to & then some, in absolutely beautiful conditions. The beer is now cracked open & I am listening to my face slowly sucking in vast amounts of after sun cream. I will be going to sleep tonight a happy man.

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Sounds like you have really cracked it, congrat's :wink: Landings was the thing I most struggled on and still am as I packed it in about a year and a bit. I think this will be the year that I either make or break as it seems a waste to have the kit sitting in storage. When I was doing it I did not get up as many times as you did but when i did here are the couple of things that threw me a bit.

Take off's not too bad but when I got up a decent height and leveled off I found it very hard to let go of the brakes and park them as I always felt like the wing wanted to turn right. Even though it was probably only ever slightly turning I had a feeling I needed to keep the brakes in my hand to correct it. Then there was those moments when you look down at your feet and think wow I pretty high and then up at the wing/harness and think this is what is holding me on :shock: . I can only presume this feeling passes and is probably made a little bit easier if you are wearing a reserve.

Landings for me were always nearly's. The first was thankfully into a freshly ploughed field(nice and soft) and the second I nearly made it on my feet before landing on my arse.

But each time I always found that I got pendulem(spelling) swing coming in. IT would usually happen just after I turn off the motor and was out of the seat making final approach. IT would seem in most cases I would panic being so close to landing and over do it on the opposite brake making the pendulem even worse. Did this ever happen to you?

Again mega kudo's and keep it up.

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