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Michael's Training Blog


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As there are only a couple of other Blogs starting in 2012 I thought I’d add mine into the mix...

Although I've just started with Simon at Membury I actually started the process of learning the theory and practice of paramotoring about a year ago with a rather good chap called Stephen Hemsley. However, before I'd got to far trying to master wing handling (does one ever actually master it?) my training was curtailed by an (stupid) accident while gardening of all things. I like to perform all my own stunts and this includes falling from trees while coppicing them..doh!

So a year on, and with a back that I can bend without crying like a girl, I decided to get back into the saddle. Stephen's work schedule and the distance between us was a bit of a mental barrier for me getting on with things so I decided to find someone a bit more local and who operated full time training...this will give me the opportunity to make the most of the good weather which is, let’s face it, in short supply at this time of the year. I'd been lurking on this forum for a year and seen the comments regarding Simon and with Membury almost on the door step thought I'd take the plunge. Two phone calls and about 48 hours later I arrived at Membury Airstrip for my first session...

Day 1: My weather app tells me it's -3C and it is mighty parky out but that doesn't deter half a dozen of us turning up on what is actually quite a nice, sunny day. I'm wearing about ten layers of thermal clothing but my prior experience tells me that this will start peeling off soon enough. I'm the novice in the group (from the point of view of training with Simon) and some time after 9am we all head into the Bermuda Triangle that is the training area at the centre of the three airstrips and I commence with some Kiting.

Up to now I've never actually done any ground handling without the wing being clipped into a harness so simple kiting by holding the A and D lines is a new experience. Colin gets me started by explaining how to do it properly and then leaves me to bugger it up over and over again to see if I can learn that doing the same thing every time will result in the same outcome (normally my wing laying upside down on the ground). I'm stubborn and after a battle of wills with the wing Simon eventually comes and reminds me of everything Colin already told me...the wing comes up perfectly and I dart about under it and keep it there. Lesson one, if you do 'x' and it doesn't work, next time try 'y'...don't keep doing 'x'. I've been at it for about an hour but am feeling remarkably energetic still which surprises me from previous experience...then I realise that this is because the wing has spent most of the last hour on the ground. Once I get it in the air and start actually working it I'm sweating in under ten minutes and stripping down to a long sleeved T-Shirt.

Next we move straight on to some forward launches. These aren't new to me but it's been almost a year since I tried one. Layout is how I remember it although the methodology of clipping in is a little different so I practice this a bit to reinforce the knowledge. The wind is light but moving around a bit some of the launches need a bit of immediate correction. On the whole the forward launches go well although my brake, turn and land the wing sequence basically sucked.

The wind picks up a bit so we can try some reverse launches. Again, not my first time doing this so the exercise is more about remembering how to do it than learning from scratch. Colin doesn't let that stand in his way though when it comes to taking the piss as my kiting control while facing the wing is pretty poor. Colin works on this with me and as we wrap up for the day I've learned a bit more about controlling the wing. It's about 3pm...my legs are like lead and I can't physically run backwards any longer...I've learned loads, remembered quite a bit and, most importantly, reinforced some good practices with regards wing handling and safety.

...24 hours later I feel like I've been in accident. I literally didn't know it was possible to strain that many individual muscles simultaneously. There is nothing I've done today where I haven't thought 'Oooo, that hurts'...even blinking.

Sweet...I can't wait for session 2.


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Excellent blog and very amusing, particularly the 24 hours after part.

Stephen Hemsley was the chap that got me into the air on my first solo, far too many years ago to contemplate now.

Do you have any contact details for him?

If you like send me a PM, thanks,



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I’ve nearly recovered after my second session so here goes…

Day 2: A tad over a week after my first training day I manage to co-ordinate physical strength with weather and a cheeky day off work to go for a second session. It’s bloomin’ cold and there are even a few flakes of snow in the air. The forecast suggested it would be under 0C but it feels colder. I’m the first to arrive (super keen you see) but Simon is already set up in the field. Two other victims brave the cold for their training, Dave (who’s at a similar level to me…Hi tophatter) and Mike who’s ready for his first flight.

The wind is light so it’s going to be forward launches today but to make it more exciting the wind is swinging around almost 180 degrees in a typically unpredictable fashion. The order of the day is ‘more haste, less speed’. If you dawdle getting set up then the wind has swung around and you either have to unclip and reposition or wait a random amount of time to get the wind back. If you rush and miss a step when you launch something will be wrong and the wing will crash and burn! So, it’s a matter of position the wing, then promptly lay it out, untangle lines, run through clipping in procedure then grab brakes and lines whilst checking everything is as it should be…then, with a final feel of the wind on your face, run. Given the shifting wind we have plenty of chance to practice adapting to being slightly off line and feeling the asymmetric pull in the harness so much is learned.

When we arrived at Membury first thing the cloud cover was low and dense with vertical visibility at about 500’…by late morning there are patches of blue showing through so it’s time for Mike’s first flight. The prop on the engine is replaced following an impact at my last session and Mike is briefed. Mike, if you’re reading this then you’re a brave man for going up in such lightweight clothing…even with my gloves on you must have been freezing! Dave and I take time out to watch Mike either soar like a bird or ignobly face-plant in the dirt. He wow’s us by taking, pretty gracefully, to the air and climbs for his lap of the airfield. He doesn’t manage to get into the seat (and is a big lad) so after a lap I think he was getting cut of by the knabbers…lol. A short second lap and he comes in for the landing, descending over the cars (I actually ducked like a girl!) before making a pretty impressive first landing. Good effort…with the exception of hanging by my nuts I hope my first flight goes so well.

A Simon has already pointed out that we’re paying him to watch us loafing about chatting, Dave and I pull our fingers out and move on to a bit of launching practice with the motor strapped on. By-feck it’s heavy! I know what a tortoise feels like now; it’s like trying to stand up with a fat bird on your back…or is that just me that tried that? Anyway, we learn the rolling onto your knees technique and take it in turns trying to bend to pick up the risers then trying to get throttle, brakes and A lines into ones hand. The practice launches actually go very well but I struggle to manage more than two in a row and three is my absolute limit. Running with the weight of the motor, the pull of the wing and the leg-straps hanging around your thighs was both funny and difficult. I found the leg straps made getting a good leg swing a bit of a challenge and ended up mincing across the field like Quentin Crisp.

By mid-afternoon I’m done for and thankfully it’s time to wrap up for the day. The feedback from Simon is good and, if I can reproduce what I’ve done today, a flight may be in the offing at the next session.

As you can imagine…I’m now back home sacrificing the cats to the god of wind… :twisted:

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