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slim
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Yeeee ha.

I've finally started my training! Thanks Simon. A beautiful day, just a shame it was too blustery to get a wing over my head :-(

I felt a bit of a wally hanging from two bits of rope in the barn with the harness and motor but it was a lot more comfortable than I was expecting.

Here's to gentle winds and a total absence of work emergencies on Friday ;-)

Stuart

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Ok, so the day started a little late. It was raining when I left Reading but by the time I got to Lambourn it was sunny, a little "thermic" as Simon puts it but a nice steady 8mph breeze blowing from the North. Training started at midday and ended at about 4pm because I had to be home in time to get number 3 son off to camp for the weekend.

After day one when it was far too gusty to try and get a wing over my head today was much better. I fell over quite a bit. It isn't like flying my stunt kite at all! I keep having to try and remember that the brakes are generally to be used sparingly but I did get a few hops down the hill including one at 20 feet altitude and 20 yards in length. What a feeling and not a motor in sight yet!

Now I'm exhausted, I've got aches in places I didn't know I had places and several bumps and bruises but a big smile on my face. I suspect I'll sleep like a log tonight.

I took a couple of pictures of Simon practicing with his new Dudek Synthesis. Click here for my album. He let me try it out at the end of the day. A truly fantastic piece of kit. My brand new one arrives at the weekend and I can't wait. I suspect the stunt kite will be languishing in the back of the car for a while whilst I practice with 31 square meters of nice crispy wing every lunchtime in the field near my office.

More next time.

Stuart.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today truly was father's day! My lovely new crispy Dudek wing arrived so Simon and I took it up the hill (thanks Clive). It was a pretty low wind day so lots of practice forward launches but I did manage to get a few reverses in and some time just ground handling. I don't ache as much tonight as last week. What wind there was came from the South so we were using the gentle grassy slope.

It really does get easier with practice!

Clive Bunce (he of Dudek fame) flew overhead in his microlight but couldn't land at the time so he went home. I managed one towed launch thanks to Rob and Simon running like maniacs (well done and thank you guys) followed by a reasonable landing.

Now to put lots of ground handling practice in before my next day at Lambourn. It was a bit tricky to practice before with a lack of a wing and harness but now that deficit has been fixed I can make some progress (i hope).

And the lesson of the day? When to give up. If the takeoff isn't happening then abort earlier rather than later. When you're physically tired stop and rest. There's no point in getting tired. The wing seems to know and chooses that moment to turn around and bite you ;-)

We saw a couple of buzzards pretty closely today together with a kestrel and various other wild life. Altogether another great day.

I think I'll sleep well tonight

Stuart

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On Friday night I managed to get 45 minutes of ground handling practice in the field near my office. The wind was steady at about 5mph. Lots of forward launches were the order of the day. Unfortunately I didn't have a windsock with me so I was relying on watching the trees and feeling to gauge the wind. Getting the wind direction wrong means the wing just wants to go off to one side and no amount of running and brakes seems to get it back. I also noticed that because of the higher speed nature of the reflex wing it is much harder to do useful ground handling in low winds.

This morning Number 2 son begged me to show him the wing so off we went to the the field. After a few forward launches that were not very successful because of the low wind, Josh asked if he could try. It didn't take a Ph.D in Aerodynamics to work out that this was going to be tough - how to get a 3 stone child off the ground on a reflex wing with almost no wind and limited ability to control the brakes (remote control by yelling ;-) ) It took three attempts but we did manage a 10 yard flight at 5 feet off the ground and actually it taught me a lot about things I've been doing wrong. The good news is that harness, wing, father and son survived to tell the tale to mom :lol:

Having not learned my lesson, this evening Number 3 son was livid that his elder brother had got his feet off the ground and he hadn't been invited. Off we went to the nearby park and after a lot of effort he flew too. The quote of the weekend was "Dad, you have to help me become the youngest paramotor pilot in the world!" It's going to be interesting!

The question I'll have to ask Simon is how do you get this blasted wing to launch reliably in no wind? Am I just being a weakling or is there a knack to it?

So, after about 2 hours of practice and another hour of kiting children around I think I'm beginning to get a better feel for this stuff. I'm beginning to be able to tell which way the wing is going without looking at it. Now to get praying for some better weather.

'Till next time.

Stuart

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"The question I'll have to ask Simon is how do you get this blasted wing to launch reliably in no wind? Am I just being a weakling or is there a knack to it?"

A bit of both,

You need to make a full comitment to the launch... (this tends to tail off the more you do 'as with most people' )

Get the wing layed out well and into wind, dont PULL on the risers just guide the wing up.

The main thing to remember with the Reflex wings is thet they are FASTER so eveything needs to happen with a little more speed.

Dont worry you WILL get it sussed, do keep at the practicing.

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Today I decided that my colleagues needed a laugh so at lunch time I went out onto the field and spent a happy hour ground handling. They watched from the windows of the office.

So, what did I achieve? Well, I managed to get it to stay over my head for 35 seconds at one point and for between 20 and 25 seconds a number of times. Although the weather web sites are all saying that the wind here in Reading was 10 to 15mph the reality on the ground was much lower and a bit gusty at times so one minute I'd be nice and stable, just on my tippy toes, and the next everything was coming out of the sky on my head.

I did get a bit close to some trees that were on the upwind side of the field at one point and got a great demonstration of the turbulence on their leeward side. The leading edge collapsed and then the wing folded in half turning into a big pile on the floor. An interesting lesson to learn in benign circumstances.

I'm getting pretty good at building the wall now even from a complete mess which is encouraging.

So, time to go do some work.

Stuart

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Stuart

Sound like the training is going well - well done. Also good fun for the spectators. :)

I have just enrolled in the course with Simon – so let’s hope the weather changes and we can both get up there together.

Just a thought Simon – Maybe you should create a new section for all us newbie’s to log our ‘Diary Events’ and then we can all have a laugh and of course learn from each other. It might attract some fresh blood too.

Tony

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My wife thinks she's turning into a "wing widow" now. Under the pretense of offering to go and collect one of the kids from their evening activity I managed to sneak off and get another half hour of practice in on the way last night!

An excellent session with some nice even evening breeze from the North. My record was 60 or so seconds above my head with a couple of moments of air beneath my feet. It is amazing to suddenly realise that everything is stable and that just a little pull on the brakes gives enough lift to be off the ground.

The fun of the evening was the face of the Sargent Major with his group of Army Cadets. He was wondering why they weren't managing to keep in line during their square bashing, until he turned around and saw what they were all looking at. I'm enjoying this sport just for the reactions of the spectators!

Maybe we should start a Forum for training blogs. Simon, can you move a thread from one section to another?

'Till next time,

Stuart

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  • 2 weeks later...

Training day 4 was very challenging but after almost two weeks without a flyable day it was good to be getting my wing out again. A good crowd turned up at Lambourn including David and Rachael(?) H. who demonstrated how it should be done despite some gusty conditions and a less than ideal take off site. We were in a borrowed field and had to wait for the horses to be moved. Unfortunately there was rather a lot of horse manure left in the field which made the whole day rather smelly :-(

When the gusts died down the wind was pretty smooth and we all got some good ground handling done. Tony started his first lesson with that wonderful task - getting out your brand new wing - a nice crispy Dudek Synthesis.

After lunch (which included rounding up 3 escaped horses) I strapped on my Rad motor for the first time. Everything changes! The hang points move slightly so launching is harder. The weight of the motor makes it much more difficult to maneuver around the field. I found that I could only do one or two launches before having to stop for a breather. The motor is quite uncomfortable and hard work to carry around. Obviously, once I'm flying the wing will be carrying it rather than me but right now, whilst practicing, it's all on my back and really hard work.

After a couple of hours of struggling with the motor I took it off and enjoyed some simple ground handling - for a while - until a particularly large gust arrived just as I was turning from reverse to forward pose. It hit me exactly as I was side on and I completely lost my balance. I hit the ground hard on my shoulder and started to be dragged across the field using my shoulder as a shock absorber. The real problem was the barbed wire fence that was coming up fast. Remembering my instruction I grabbed one break and just kept pulling on the string but although the wing wasn't flying any longer it was still dragging me across the field and it was getting perilously close to the wing shredder of a fence. Fortunately at that point the rest of the guys realised the problem and came and jumped on the wing. Thanks guys, I suspect I owe a round of beers!

Not surprisingly at that point and given the increasingly unfriendly looking sky we all decided that discretion was the better part of valour and started to pack up. It took me 10 minutes just to untangle all my lines. The wing had a complete twist in it and when everything had stopped moving I was well and truly enmeshed in string. The bruises are beginning to come out and the grazing looks far worse than it is. My shoulder isn't working particularly well but I don't think there is any serious damage. Mrs M. has enjoyed rubbing arnica into it if only to watch me squirm. I doubt there will be any sympathy from that quarter ;-)

The main treat of the day was Simon taking his new Parajet for a quick spin. An awesome piece of kit with an awesome price tag. I only had my phone camera with me so the picture is pretty crap but I've added the best one to my album.

The final lesson for the day was sun cream. I clearly didn't use enough on my neck and face - ouch.

Enough for now. I need something to eat and some paracetamol.

'till next time.

Stuart

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  • 2 weeks later...

The grotty weather has really slowed my training down. My usual ground handling field is flooded and the wind and rain are really not what any of us needed. This evening though, the clouds cleared and the wind dropped so I went up to one of the local playing fields to see what I could find.

The answer was a couple with a radio controlled glider and a bloke with a boomerang. I went to the other side of the field and took a look at the wind. Nothing, not a glimmer. This was going to be tough but hey, I'd got an hour before the kids needed to be put to bed and this was my last opportunity for some peace and quiet for a while so I may as well get some exercise.

On my first attempt I got a perfect forward launch followed by five more! If only I'd had a motor I'd have been away :lol: The lack of wind meant I had to keep running in order to keep the wing above my head but I managed 200 meters in a straight line a couple of times. Blinkin' exhausted now though.

There is definitely a point where exhaustion sets in and you just can't do it any more. My last few attempts were rubbish so I gave up and came home.

'Till next time, happy and tired,

Stuart

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Perhaps it was a little too much to hope for. Friday evening looked promising earlier in the day but turned horrible in the end so I left the car on the drive and spent the evening with the kids hoping for better weather on Saturday.

Saturday looked good to begin with but as the day wore on it looked like the rain was coming East faster than originally thought. A bunch of us went to the new (temporary) field today any way. What a site! Mostly flat with a gentle East facing slope at the far end. Easy access from the road too. I arrived to find a collection of new and potential trainees all bemoaning the high winds and looking at Francis' new tandem invention. It looks pretty cool, especially if he can make it work.

Several people had a go with Simon's new practice wing - a Marlin from Dudek (who else? :wink: ) It's a very interesting fly. Not big enough to cause problems in high winds but enough like a real wing to make ground handling feel almost real. The downside is that it is very twitchy. When it goes wrong it goes wrong fast but lots of fun when the wind is too high for my ReAction :lol:

Francis managed to get off the ground. The wind was so high that with his engine at full power he wasn't moving forwards at all. It was a very cool demonstration of precision flying. He went from ground level to about 500 feet without moving much from his takeoff point. Vertical takeoff paramotor!

A few of us hung around until about 18:30 hoping that the wind would drop but it started raining so we all packed up to go home. Two days hoping for my first flight and two days of disappointment. At least I got some extreme ground handling practice in. I guess patience is a real virtue in this game.

The weather looks like it is gently getting better for a few days but I have to spend at least Monday in the office this week and my car is in the garage on Tuesday. Maybe it looks like I'll cancel that and leave the office early on Monday. :P

'Till next time.

Stuart

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You'll have noticed that several people have been getting their first flights in over the last couple of days. I've been sitting in my office gazing out at the perfect conditions wishing I could be there but such is the life of the entrepreneur!

But all this is about to change! I have three days off and I plan to spend almost every waking hour in Lambourn ;-) If I don't make my first flight on Wednesday then something serious has gone wrong.

Last night I spent half an hour in the park ground handling and proved to myself a couple of things that have been troubling me. I think I mentioned a couple of posts ago then when the wing starts to drop down on one side the natural tendency is to turn towards the high side and pull against the low side. I'd wanted to try it in very low wind conditions so that I could prove to myself that the solution is actually to turn towards the low side. It still feels wrong but yes indeed, with the left side of the wing almost touching the ground all it took was a couple of steps towards the left and a slight change in running direction towards the left and the whole thing snapped back over my head (really surprisingly fast).

Of course all you experienced people will be saying "why is he having trouble with that? It's basic" and the answer is I don't know. When I get a forward or reverse launch directly into the wind it works great and I can kite the wing for ages above my head but in low wind conditions I just couldn't get it to work reliably until I'd made this mental leap.

Of course, tomorrow will be the real test.

I hope at least one person finds that little revelation useful :-)

Stuart

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Slim,

Reading your notes helps me breath a little easier. I drove down the A303 to Heathrow on Monday evening during a glorious evening knowing that almost perfect flying conditions were here for a few days at least. I was so peed off I did consider going sick and grabbing my wing.... well, just for a moment or two. ;)

Like you (and probably every other newbie here) I have been kiting whenever possible. Your experiences certainly echo mine and probably everyone else's as well.

I managed to glean the the following, experts - please step in to correct me if I am wrong here, your input is highly valued.

1/ The wing needs to be properly laid out as prescribed to give a clean launch.

2/ The wind needs to be at 90 degrees to the wing if you want to avoid crab like skitters to make it so after the canopy has left the ground.

3/ In light winds, setting the trimmers to the 'high lift' takeoff range must help. Perhaps those skilled in these things could comment?

4/ Sometimes the wind is either so light or 'flukey' that virtually anyone would have major problems getting the wing off the ground and keeping it over their head. Give up and try another day - admitting defeat in the face of impossible conditions is no defeat at all imho.

I found Mike Kungs DVD 'Playground' which deals with ground handling to be really useful and informative. He is an acknowledged master of the art and makes it look easy. He demonstrates the fundamentals extremely clearly and makes this DVD a must for me. I have watched it through about ten times, almost as many veiwings as the 'Never Ending Thermal' which is inspirational.

Good luck on the 'big day'.

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Thanks for the encouragement Norman. Last year I sat in computerised missiles behind professional pilots for 70,000 miles. Today's target was to fly 1 mile controlled by my own hands.

I missed that target. :(

Five attempts at a launch and not one off the ground by more than a foot. The last one was a bit of a pileup resulting in a bruised hand. There comes a point when you have to admit that fatigue is getting the better of you. On the other hand I learned loads today. Ground handling with a motor on is a massively different feeling. Trying to hold the brake, "A"s and the throttle in your hand all at the same time is kinda tricky. One of my aborts was because I got the brake handle stuck between the throttle handle and the post so I couldn't get full throttle!

Sally Anne got her first air under her feet thanks to Simon and a couple of the guys running like mad across the field holding on to the rope.

Alison, my dearly beloved, watched and took some photos that I'll upload later.

I also had the chance to meet Martin, proprietor of RAD. A fine example of Great British engineering entrepreneurship. Of course I'm biased, I've got a RAD Javelin :wink:

Tomorrow is another day and I'll be back out on the field.

Stuart

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Slim,

Jeez, sounds like you were enjoying yourself! Not much of a breeze then by the sound of it... I admire your tenacity and hope that today you will soar with the eagles though I have to say the forecast for today or tomorrow doesn't look that promising. Saturday morning may be a little better though (forecast). Still, I am far away at the moment and looking forward to my share of bruises and swallowed earth on the 10th.

"Per ardua ad astra!"

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I arrived at the field just as Simon was packing up at about 09:45. Conditions were great but there was rain on the way. We got my kit out, Simon warmed up the motor whilst I demonstrated building a wall to a bus load of walkers who were getting out of their coach just as we heard the first few raindrops land on the wing. :cry:

We packed up (much to everyone's disappointment) and sat on the back of my car gazing out at the rain with Colin, Patty and Mia. After chatting for a while I decided to go in search of a petrol siphon, some gloves and food. Somebody had a fantastic petrol pump the other day - it was white plastic tubing with an orange bellows arrangement at the top. Does anybody know what it was and where it came from?

Several hours later the rain eased up enough and I did a bit of ground handling but the thermals were far too bumpy for a first flight so I gave up and came home. Tomorrow is my last day of leave so it has to happen.

I'm off to bed early tonight so I can be on the field as early as possible tomorrow. Downhearted but determined.

On a lighter note, I've posted a couple of pictures of Sally Ann's first experience of air under her feet yesterday here and here. The first shows how hard it is to pull a girl in Wiltshire and the second one shows a lovely flare (Sally Ann, if you want the hi-res originals just let me know).

Night all.

Stuart

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Slim,

Fortune favors the brave matey, good luck with tomorrow.

The first rule of aeronautics - 'hurry up and wait!'

Tomorrow morning looks good on the forecast if the wind is a little light - failing that Saturday doesn't look to bad AM....

The exhilaration of making it up and around by yourself will wash away the disappointment. It should take at least a week to get the grin off your face.

"Hals und bein brukke!" :lol:

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Somebody had a fantastic petrol pump the other day - it was white plastic tubing with an orange bellows arrangement at the top. Does anybody know what it was and where it came from?

That would be me :lol: got it from ebay for about £2.50 delivered

CPC also sell them in pairs for £1.41 but you need a quantity to get free delivery.....

nice pics by the way

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Thanks for the kick Norman.

I have to admit I've been in a bit of a sulk today. I tried really hard yesterday but I just couldn't make it work. I think there is a combination of things going on but the biggest part is my own frame of mind. I think I'd put so much pressure on myself to get it cracked in the last three days that I couldn't perform when required.

In the end I had to give up because the wind was just too high for safety and the thermals were kicking off.

I think I'm getting really quite proficient with ground handling (Simon will correct me I'm sure ;-) ). I can reliably perform forward and reverse launches without the motor on my back but as soon I start squeezing the throttle it all goes pear shaped. I think that I'm misinterpreting the torque steer from the motor as the wing veering off which it isn't doing. The answer is to ignore the twist and carry on running with the engine at full power rather than stopping to correct a problem with the wing that isn't there.

Ah well, I'll just have to keep on trying, but keep on trying I will.

Anything worth doing is worth persevering for.

Yours,

Stuart.

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You hit the nail on the head,

To much pressure mate! you just need to chill out and not rush yourslef.

Frame of mind is (in my opinion) 80% of a sucessfull launch with a Paramotor. Spend between now and your next visit Re-jigging your mind set and you will have a great flight, your not fighting your kit mate, your trying to become one with it. :wink:

You know how to do it, so next time just get it done.

Keep your chin up... :D (makes it easyer for someone to hit LOLOL)

SW :D

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Hey Stuart,

Listen to Simon, he has seen it all before.

Learning to fly anything is full of hurdles, hills and dips. As you so rightly say, the effort and perseverance is worth it - the result as you crest the wave is fabulous.

I have seen a tendency in myself when fighting a problem to focus on my internalized solution when what I needed to do is listen and think about what those teaching or mentoring me are saying. When I have cracked whatever it was that was causing me grief, most often the solution was exactly what those voices were advocating.

Obvious perhaps; but it is very easy to keep doing the thing that your muscle and brain memory have been doing to that point, not the new and correct moves that will defeat your challenge.

Chill Stuart, remember that you are treading a pathway well worn. You will make it very soon.

As an aside, here is a link to a site that can make for interesting reading. I don't say reading and research is the whole answer by any means, but just occasionally a different perspective or form of words can set off a lightbulb. 'Launch psychology' might be a good starting point. ;) Oh, and if you want a real laugh, wait until I start my training!

Again - "Per Ardua, ad Astra" - "Through difficulty to the stars" - if it was too easy, everyone would be doing it! :lol:

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