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Pete's Progress


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My first two days of training with Andy and Rick at Airways Airsports:

Day 1 - started with a frost on the ground but a warm welcome from the staff, followed by the expected paperwork. A surprisingly short session in the classroom, going over the basics of the wing and airfield practise was followed by some PLF practise and before I knew it I was walking onto the field with a harness and wing.

Rick took me through the procedure for checking the wing, lines and harness before strapping in and a few forward launches.

I was surprised at how easily the wing (Ozone Element 2) came up time after time. It's either a very easy wing to launch, or (less likely) I have some talent.

Within 2 1/2 hours of arriving on my first day, I found myself attached to the winch line, checking above and behind before calling "all out, all out, all out" and lifting off for my first flight.

My best attempt at describing the experience can only be by comparison to the first time I rode my own motorcycle. When I touched down, still on the winch line after a straight and level flight at 10 - 20 ft. altitude, I didn't know if I'd been in the air for 5 seconds or 5 minutes.

The direction of the (very slight) wind allowed for flights diagonally across the field; about 60 seconds in the air without releasing.

By the end of day 1 I was up to 50 ft. I must say I felt much happier higher up and further away from the big round rock, which was still white with frost. Govt. surplus tank suit liner and vehicle gloves kept me comfortably warm all day.

Day 2 started with a thicker layer of frost. Wind had swung round to Easterly, meaning we had to winch across the width of the field, so flights were a bit shorter.

After checking the kit, we were soon racking up flights. After a couple of 50ft straight and level flights on the tow line, I was ready for a release. At 60ft on the winch, everything was nice and straight and steady. I took both brakes in my left hand and grappled for a moment to find the release with my right. Once off the line, it was a gentle glide back to earth with only minor corrections to keep the wing square on to the wind. The excercise was repeated a couple of times as the wind picked up to 5-6kt.

The next two flights were at 80ft, releasing the line and making a couple of turns, 45° off line and then back into the wind before landing.

The sun was sinking below the horizon as we packed up at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying weekend.

Flying the school wing in very good conditions was considerably easier than I had wound myself up to believe. The whole experience was very sedate and I came away with a great deal more confidence in my ability than I previously had.

The most challenging part of the whole procedure for me was getting the wing down neatly after landing. Once I worked out that I should turn to face the wing immediately I had touched down and stopped, things became easier and I spent less time untangling lines between launches.

Now I can't wait to get back up and start doing some higher launches and circuits.

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Sounds excellent, its a shame its a bit far for me to travel. I am looking at a couple of training schools closer but still a bit of a treck away. If anyone can recomend somewhere in the south lincs area that would be great, thanks.

Look forward to the next installment


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Right on cue, as soon as I have a relatively uncommitted weekend, perfect flying weather!

Saturday morning was another frosty start, but a cuppa and some PLF practise soon had me warmed up.

Starting where I had left off 2 weeks ago, I did a couple of 80ft tows with gentle turns.

I fluffed the first launch with tangled lines - Note to self - check lines again if I've moved!

Moving on to 150ft tows gave me enough height to make some more aggressive turns. At this height I also had to start thinking about staying in the airfield and where I was going to land. My first taste of navigation!

On that subject, another student misjudged his turn into approach and landed in the next field - his first cross country.

By the end of Saturday, I had several more flights under my belt and I was beginning to relax into the routine of checks, keeping off the brakes and letting the wing fly.

Sunday saw me progress rapidly on to high launches (500ft +) and circuits. There had been very little wind on Saturday, and there was virtually nil on Sunday. This gave me freedom to explore some aspects of flying without having to worry about running out of airfield. The very stable school wing responded well to weight shift and the combination of brake and weight shift gave me some more manouverability. I got 8 circuits in during the course of the day, some playing with turns to and fro, and some with spot landings within a few yards of the launch gate. No more long walks with a bundle of wing over my shoulder!

4 days training so far and I find it hard to believe how far I've come. If the weather hadn't been so good, I'd have sat the Elementary Pilot exam, but why waste good flying weather - there'll be plenty of non flyable days for the paperwork.

At the end of the day, one of the instructors (Rick) had a short flight with his paramotor. This was the first time I'd been close to one running in anger. I've never liked 2-strokes that much and the racket from Rick's motor has me set on a Bailey 4 stroke. It will mean a slight budget adjustment, but I'm not planning on replacing my motor regularly, so may as well start with what I want.

The staff at Airways again provided a friendly welcome, all ready to share their expertise without making the novice student feel like an idiot.

If my luck with the weather holds out, I could have my CP by the end of next month. Fortunately, I'm old enough and cynical enough to accept that it won't be that quick.

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Am I reading this right?

You are doing winch tow releases @ 60ft alt?

Even in benign conditions that reads like a scenario for disaster.

An experienced tow operator can bring the risk down with an unloaded tow line at release, but it leaves no altitude for error at all. A pilot (yourself) without the benefit of automatic response to surge and experience to use limited altitude for a safe recovery and flare is ill equipped for such tasks.

I'm not bashing the learning potential for "low and slow" tows, but there is a cutoff point where the tow leaves the twisted ankle range and requires altitude to become safe again. One handed flying at release is not for pilots that have no time to react before they reach earth again. Here's hoping you (and your school) gets away with it until they change that practice and that they decide to before an avoidable accident forces them to. If they dismiss this avoidable danger, do reconsider their expertise.

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I may be wrong, but I think my first release was at 60ft. Wind was light and I was instucted not to release until the tow operator let off tension and I was in stable flight. On previous flights at lower altitudes, the tow operator was gently letting off tension, but still winding to take up slack as I descended. The only difference on my first release was actually releasing the line. Other than that, it was a straight and level flight.

I'm at the bottom end of the school wing's weight range and my descents were slow enough that I felt comfortable I had plenty of time before I had to get straight again for landing.

I appreciate that the tow operator has a degree of control while there is tension in the line.

All the above is, of course, the opinion of a novice pilot (me).

I have every confidence that the staff at Airways are competent and have no interst in putting their pupils at unneccesary risk.


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Keep it coming Pete, I am very interested in using this school, so will keep a close eye on your blog.

PS: bring the previous posters comments to Airways attention let them defend themselves. I for one would be interested to hear what they have to say in return?

What prices are you looking at for the Bailey? Have you heard one running yet?

Any snippets you may have on improving your experience - gratefully appreciated.


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Hi Pete

Great to read your little training blog keep it up! :)

Hi T-andrews

over at airways we are using a static winch with the 3 ring circus release mechanism. Our first release flights are at 60- 80 ft depending on pilot ability and conditions. When releasing theres no tension on the line as the winch is powered down therefore no surging of the wing. Up to and past this height the climb rate is pretty slow until the pilot is above the danger zone of a sudden weak link break ect. As you rightly said a sudden loss of tension if the pilot is been pulled at a good rate can end in tears down low.

Also the low and slow tows for the first flights means students aren't chucked into the deep end on there first flight and they only increase in height(and therefore tow speed) if they can show good control over the wing.

feel free to pm me if you have any queries on the process :)


Ric Womersley

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am now the proud owner of a Bailey 175 :D

Everything about the machine appears well put together. It's had the crankshaft upgrade, new camchain, oil pump chain, oil pump, seals and gaskets, since when it's done 0 hours.

The engine is considerably quieter than any of the 2 strokes I've heard, but of course the prop noise is still there.

The cage has a dent where the previous owner had a stumble and the prop contacted metal. The prop has since been replaced, and the cage still fits together properly.

Despite the weight, it feels quite comfortable on my back. A lot more so than the 30kg of workshop detritus I tried in my rucksack!

I will take it with me on my next trip to Airways and ask the experts to check it over.

I've not been flying again since my last post, due to a combination of poor weather and domestic commitments, but the shelf is up now, and I'll be keeping an eye on the forecasts for next weekend.



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Did you by any chance buy Tom clowes 175???

Bernoulli I think you will find that Bailey paramotors hold there price well. Those of us who fly them love them.

If you do want to buy one make sure you get one that has been well looked after... Don't go for one just because it is cheap. As they say buy cheap buy twice.

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I'm new to the sport, still researching.

I have a short list of suitable motors and would appreciate peoples comments please:

Freshbreeze Sportix with the Simonini engine. £4400 inc.

PAP Top 80/1400. £4400.

Parajet Volution 2 Macro. £4300 [What are the rotron's like?].

And my favourite: Baileys V5 (£5300 ouch!).

I am attracted to the 4 stroke for various reasons:

Robustness / power to weight ratio / sound output / resale value?

[is the V4 any good?].

I am 75Kg in my birthday suit! 5'8" tall.

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I am also 75kg's and take of on half throttle with my V5.

I would say the V4 is a great motor but for you, you would be better off with a V3 as the weight of the V4 is a killer... if you can afford it then V5 all the way due to the power to weight difference.

I can not comment on what motor to buy as i am totally biased towards the V5 as i sell them.

I have only ever had Bailey's but i have flown other makes.

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I travel to Derbyshire on Friday evening, book into a B&B for 2 nights, get in 2 days training and travel back on Sunday evening. The journey takes about 3 hours each way. I have tried 3 different routes, best is via M1, worst via A17 and A52.


I bought the Bailey from Ben Clowes. I assume he is Tom's brother, as he mentioned his brother also flies.


I don't think the Bailey wins any prizes for power / weight ratio.

Build quality, sophistication and sound are the qualities that did it for me.

It may be just me, but tuned 2 strokes remind me of the RD250s and GT250s which used to screech around when I had my first bike, a Triumph Tiger Cub. They make my teeth hurt.


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Hi PTwizz

No the older 175 does not have the power to weight ratio, its nothing close to a V5, The V5 is about 20hp and gives out around 65kg. The old 175 is more around 55kg thrust and is about 7kg heavier...

Like chalk and cheese...

I know ben and tom very nice guy's...

I hope you enjoy the 175

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Things have moved on somewhat to be fair ;-) The odd bit of carb adjusting every blue moon and they are pretty much maintenance free these days.

Also, check the 4 stroke history on cranks, not a dig just a point ;-)


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