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Bob Bites the Bullet


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Had my first proper lesson today with Mike at SabreAce near Braintree; I never imagined for one minute I'd be ground handling the 12m training wing (reverse) AND a 29m wing (forward) in my first two hour session!

The wind varied from the lightest puff of air to a stiff breeze, swinging through 120 degrees, but I had such a blast! Struggled a bit with the reverse launch - not instictive at all yet - but the forward felt better and on two runs was comfortably up, central and felt (relatively) under control. It felt just amazing. Also had a wander across the field with their Bailey 2-stroke, getting a feel for squeezing on/off the power and anticipating the thrust. Giggled a bit.

Really glad I've been reading the Paramotor Bible over the past few months; I know it's no alternative to proper hands-on training, but it made a huge difference today knowing what the different bits & pieces are called, and at least some of the theory... even if I couldn't put it into practice! Had just one drag across the field on my arse, but as I happily bumped along, still the smile never left my face...

I cannot wait until I'm there again - hope this Training Blog will encourage anyone who's not sure just to get stuck in, they won't regret it for one minute. Not quite sure how I'll communicate the constant demonic grin though! :twisted: There, that'll do!

Love it, love it, love it - why has it taken me so long to bite the bullet??? Not sure when the next session will be (especially with the current weather pattern...) but I'll update accordingly.

On a personal note, Mike was brilliant; clear instructions and a very friendly welcome. I very much look forward to working more with him soon.

Bob

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  • 3 weeks later...

FINALLY, a break in the weather...

Second session at Rayne on Saturday, this time with Alex. Tea first, then strapped into the training wing for reverse ground handling. It was variable breezy, ideal conditions for lots of positive input.

And something clicked. At first it was all too conscious and deliberate; I was thinking waaaay too much, and the wing swung and flipped and spat around as a result. But after a while, and some more encouraging advice from Alex, the feel developed and the wing started to behave. I stopped thinking and started to rely on instinct, on feel - and it worked. Until I started thinking again, when it all came apart in an instant!

Really encouraged - ok, I know it's just the first step of a long journey, but I left Saturday brimming with confidence and eager to unpack my recently acquired ground handling wing and start playing.

Biggest thanks to Alex - I reckon his attitude & approach are spot on. It's quite a holistic approach; not too much information, just gently nudging in the right direction and always encouraging - building layers of understanding. (He & Mike also sorted the harness on my Bailey too - thank you gentlemen).

Now it's practice practice practice at home. Oh look, Monday morning and it's pissing down again... :roll:

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  • 2 months later...

Well it’s been a while, time to update the training blog. It goes without saying that the weather has been less than kind since my last post; in fact – let’s face it – the weather this summer has been pretty crumby! Add a two week holiday (no room for wing & harness, apparently...) plus family time – there’s always something isn’t there?

However, I have snatched an odd hour here & there getting to grips with the all-important ground handling. So glad I invested in an old wing; the tired old Apco I play with has turned distinctly dirt coloured – a combination of less than ideal conditions underfoot and slightly over-enthusiastic input from yours truly! Fellow-newbies take note – it’ll be the best £100 you ever spend on eBay.

The focus for now is reverse launching; get it up and keep it up. Long gone is the back-to-front confusion – that has become second nature – the main issue now is keeping it up once I’m turned around. I’m still relying on looking at the wing rather than feeling what it’s doing; easy enough when I’m reversed and looking up into the sky, rather more of an issue when I turn around and it’s all happening behind me! Even though it’s still mainly visual I’m definitely anticipating what it’s going to do much more, so it stays up much longer and is much more stable. Really focussed on minor inputs, on pressure through the brakes, and it’s amazing how quickly one climbs up the learning curve.

Anyway, the planets aligned this weekend and I had a couple of two hour sessions; just me, my long-suffering wing and a 50 acre stubble field. Saturday was breezy but pretty steady, and I soon got back into the swing of things. Sunday was a little more gusty at times; I got picked-up and swung around a couple of times, but not enough to wipe the smile off my face... loved every minute! Maybe I should’ve worn long sleeves & trousers instead of shorts & t-shirt though – all limbs scratched to hell on the stubble :shock:

So it’ll be more of the same for now, before another trip to Rayne for more invaluable advice from Alex at Sabreace. In other news, there’s a birthday coming up soon – the wishlist includes an anemometer, some lightweight gloves and a Gin Flightdeck..... beats more new pants!

Fly safe x

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Anenometer?

You already have one: If you can pee into the wind without getting your feet wet - it's OK to fly :lol:

I found some excellent light gloves in a govt. surplus shop - I believe they are intended as driving gloves - thin leather, I can feel everything through them and they kept my fingers warm through training in January and February.

Good to hear you're making progress. I look forwrd to reports of your first flights.

Pete.

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:D

Pete, I can just imagine the conversation on my local rec: "Sorry officer, I was just testing the wind strength..."

Pleased to confirm another training session has been booked for this Saturday - I look forward to reporting tales of daring, masterly skill and heroic bravery... or frustration, desperation and hospitalisation!

Hope you get a chance to fly this weekend - thank you for recent updates to Petes Progress, it's an inspiring and motivating read. Please keep it going!

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“Summertime, and the weather is...” ....too bloody hot, truth be told.

A three hour session with the infinitely patient Alex at SaberAce, Rayne on Saturday morning; within half an hour I could’ve wrung my tee-shirt out, it was relentlessly hot and humid. BUT, we’re not complaining about the weather are we? S’just an observation, you understand... :wink:

We started with a brief chat to bring him up to speed with my progress, practice & problems, and to settle me into the training frame of mind. Within ten minutes it was out with the trusty old Apco, on with my harness & a helmet and away we went.

The reverse handling was relatively straightforward, in that the breeze was steady (and just about strong enough) and the gusts were few & far between. So we jumped straight on to my next learning curve: “I’m running forwards, what the chuff is my wing doing!?!?”

I don’t know whether it was the quality of Alex’s training, or whether I’ve been blessed with an inordinate amount of natural talent (ok, it’s Alex, I know it’s Alex...) – but again, something clicked.

It’s the holistic approach; everything I do has an effect on my wing, so I’m only ever going to master that wing if I control those inputs, however caused. But perhaps more than that; rather than identify a list of separate actions that affect the wing, I’m thinking in terms of maintaining pressure, and what can happen when that pressure isn’t maintained. I’m searching for, and increasingly recognising, equilibrium; every action has an equal and opposite reaction and I can increasingly predict what will happen when I do something (or, perhaps more importantly, when I don’t do something...)

So I’m learning how to fail, so that in the future I might not.

We had perhaps a dozen forward launches and half a dozen reverse launches, and by the end I was sensing the wing movement (sliding left or right, falling back or pushing too far forward) and generally getting it back under control & straight. Equally importantly Alex was using these repetitions to introduce a pre-flight checklist, starting to build a script, the all important routine. So far, so good...

Next up, after taking on another gallon or two of orange squash, we repeated the exercise with a cage on my back; just getting a feel for the bulk without the weight. Rather than the “back to the beginning” I once feared, it felt like the natural progression. Until Alex pulled the cage, caused the wing to slide off to the right and gleefully declared I’d just lost £200 for a new prop cos I turned the wrong way!

Learning how to fail, so that in the future I might not... :D

I was, without putting too fine a point on it, knackered. At least this sport was already fulfilling one objective: losing weight! In the last half hour I tried on a paramotor again and took it for a walk around the field, getting used to the weight but also the thrust. Learning to squeeze on the power, to brace myself against it and also to squeeze off the power afterwards; again, maintaining equilibrium.

It was an entertaining, encouraging and exhausting morning – HUGE thanks again to Alex at SaberAce for all his hard work. Now comes more stubble-field practice, more reading and more dreams of flying..... a dream that is slowly inching towards reality!

Enjoy your flying,

Bob

(PS – birthday update: flying goggles, a windsock and the Flights for Hero’s DVD! Oh, and a watering can and bird-box for the garden... :roll: )

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I did most of my training in the winter months. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the stable weather. The added bonus was the absence of heat. I'ts easy to add warm clothing.

I actually passed up the opportunity to fly this weekend, just because it was too hot :(

Good to hear you're pushing on through the heat and getting closer to flying :D

Pete.

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  • 4 weeks later...

After a breezy, blustery week the forecast looked promising for Saturday. A quick text to Alex to check his availability, and within 30 mins it was Mike who called back and invited me back to Rayne for my fourth 3 hour session.

I arrived at the field having first collected six paramotor magazines from an eBayer in Braintree: £6.50 well spent! Especially as three of them had dedicated articles on photography from paramotors, one of the main reasons I want to get up in the air. I've played with kite photography for years, and always appreciated the major difference a small change in perspective can make. But kite photography is, by its very nature, rather a hit or miss affair - what I needed was a platform to get the photographer up where the action is....

After a quick chat to bring Mike up to speed with progress made to date, we grabbed a wing and wandered off across the field. A few minutes reverse handling quickly illustrated how changeable the wind actually was, switching from a stiff breeze to nothing in the blink of an eye. Although it was only 9.30am the sun was out and clearly the mass of air moving over the field was very variable.

But that's what I really wanted; perfect active air, comfortably within safe boundaries but hugely changeable and requiring a lot of input :D:D

Next up came some forward runs - we stuck with reverse launching, then turned & walked the width of the field. I'm really trying to focus on feeling what the wing is doing behind/above me, rather than looking up at the wing or down at its shadow. Hopefully this will pay dividends in the future.

I have developed a tendency to brake the wing a little too much, so that it's hanging back a touch. Not much, not enough to hinder forward movement, just a little further back than perhaps it should be. Thinking about this, perhaps by doing this I'm subconsciously giving myself a little more time in the event of a surge forward; I have just that split-second longer to recognise when everything goes light. However, it's something that I know will improve with practice, especially now that I'm aware of it. Again, something that became apparent because of the variable conditions.

The closest analogy I can think of is pulling wheelies on a motorbike. I was never very good at them because I had a terminal fear of going over backwards. So rather than reach equilibrium with the front wheel, say, two feet off the ground, I fought hard with the wheel only one foot up; never truly in control and always short-lived. Of course, on a bike the cost of going over backwards was huge, both financially and painfully. At least a wing just flops down in front!

Next Mike strapped a (non-running) motor onto my back, and I attempted exactly the same ground handling process that had become second nature a mere 15 minutes before.... what a difference 30kgs on your back makes! :shock::shock: I got the wing up, tried to turn.... and couldn't! Then, once I did turn, couldn't stop!! I was completely surprised by the inertia followed by momentum the weight of a motor introduced, and how immediately ground handling a wing was rendered nigh on impossible.

After untangling the resultant mess, and seriously recalibrating my capability, we soon got going again. Before long (and in an ever-strengthening wind) I was back in control and retrieving that all-important feel. What became apparent was the vital foundation of ground-handling the wing; once I'd overcome the shock and allowed for the inertia the motor introduces, the wing handling was still there. Huge credit to Mike & Alex, always building feel, building knowledge, building confidence... evolving towards capability and safety.

This was the big lesson of the session: adding the weight of a paramotor and distraction of a throttle, even with the motor not running, completely changes the dynamic of ground-handling. And this without any torque or gyroscopic effect! I vowed to get back into the stubble field, strap on my motor and practice!

As the gusts were getting a little too strong & frequent we finished with a good long chat about wings - I've got my eye on a nearly new Revo2, which subject to a satisfactory service report has my name on it. Mike was (as always) very encouraging, and for the first time I realised the progress I've made and how there is genuine first flight light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not there yet, but with more focussed practice on the stubble, and more expert tuition from Mike & Alex at SaberAce, it should just be a matter of time :D

Enjoy your flying,

Bob

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After a breezy, blustery week the forecast looked promising for Saturday. A quick text to Alex to check his availability, and within 30 mins it was Mike who called back and invited me back to Rayne for my fourth 3 hour session.

I arrived at the field having first collected six paramotor magazines from an eBayer in Braintree: £6.50 well spent! Especially as three of them had dedicated articles on photography from paramotors, one of the main reasons I want to get up in the air. I've played with kite photography for years, and always appreciated the major difference a small change in perspective can make. But kite photography is, by its very nature, rather a hit or miss affair - what I needed was a platform to get the photographer up where the action is....

After a quick chat to bring Mike up to speed with progress made to date, we grabbed a wing and wandered off across the field. A few minutes reverse handling quickly illustrated how changeable the wind actually was, switching from a stiff breeze to nothing in the blink of an eye. Although it was only 9.30am the sun was out and clearly the mass of air moving over the field was very variable.

But that's what I really wanted; perfect active air, comfortably within safe boundaries but hugely changeable and requiring a lot of input :D:D

Next up came some forward runs - we stuck with reverse launching, then turned & walked the width of the field. I'm really trying to focus on feeling what the wing is doing behind/above me, rather than looking up at the wing or down at its shadow. Hopefully this will pay dividends in the future.

I have developed a tendency to brake the wing a little too much, so that it's hanging back a touch. Not much, not enough to hinder forward movement, just a little further back than perhaps it should be. Thinking about this, perhaps by doing this I'm subconsciously giving myself a little more time in the event of a surge forward; I have just that split-second longer to recognise when everything goes light. However, it's something that I know will improve with practice, especially now that I'm aware of it. Again, something that became apparent because of the variable conditions.

The closest analogy I can think of is pulling wheelies on a motorbike. I was never very good at them because I had a terminal fear of going over backwards. So rather than reach equilibrium with the front wheel, say, two feet off the ground, I fought hard with the wheel only one foot up; never truly in control and always short-lived. Of course, on a bike the cost of going over backwards was huge, both financially and painfully. At least a wing just flops down in front!

Next Mike strapped a (non-running) motor onto my back, and I attempted exactly the same ground handling process that had become second nature a mere 15 minutes before.... what a difference 30kgs on your back makes! :shock::shock: I got the wing up, tried to turn.... and couldn't! Then, once I did turn, couldn't stop!! I was completely surprised by the inertia followed by momentum the weight of a motor introduced, and how immediately ground handling a wing was rendered nigh on impossible.

After untangling the resultant mess, and seriously recalibrating my capability, we soon got going again. Before long (and in an ever-strengthening wind) I was back in control and retrieving that all-important feel. What became apparent was the vital foundation of ground-handling the wing; once I'd overcome the shock and allowed for the inertia the motor introduces, the wing handling was still there. Huge credit to Mike & Alex, always building feel, building knowledge, building confidence... evolving towards capability and safety.

This was the big lesson of the session: adding the weight of a paramotor and distraction of a throttle, even with the motor not running, completely changes the dynamic of ground-handling. And this without any torque or gyroscopic effect! I vowed to get back into the stubble field, strap on my motor and practice!

As the gusts were getting a little too strong & frequent we finished with a good long chat about wings - I've got my eye on a nearly new Revo2, which subject to a satisfactory service report has my name on it. Mike was (as always) very encouraging, and for the first time I realised the progress I've made and how there is genuine first flight light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not there yet, but with more focussed practice on the stubble, and more expert tuition from Mike & Alex at SaberAce, it should just be a matter of time :D

Enjoy your flying,

Bob

Loving this Blog Bob, keep up the good work, sounds like you are coming on fine, Revo2 is a good beginners wing, will look after you nicely, but dont do what i did and go too small as the fuel burn rate was terrible.

Were you there when four of us flew in from canewdoin some time back?

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Were you there when four of us flew in from canewdoin some time back?

No Sir, it wasn't me. My time at Rayne tends to be restricted to Saturday mornings, and I can honestly say I haven't seen anyone fly into the field while I've been there on a lesson. Just a few of us newbies falling over in the field & getting all hot & bothered.

I look forward to catching up with other like-minded folk though - even having read the Lemmings forum from begining to end! :lol:

Thank you for your kind & encouraging words - when I was deciding whether to really commit to paramotoring I read several training blogs, including "Pete's Progress" which I found hugely motivational. I figure if my blog can, in turn, encourage someone else to follow their dream, then it's time well spent. Plus, it gives me a very stark reminder of the progress I've made (and the mistakes that happened along the way!)

Regarding the Revo2, your comment is particularly relevant. Mike and I were discussing the size issue on Saturday; I'm (ahem) 95kgs, so plus my kit, Bailey 175, reserve, sandwiches etc etc I'll be pushing 140kg. The nearly-new wing I've found is the 29m - Mike has promised to come back to me to confirm which size would be optimal in his opinion.

Look forward to meeting soon,

Bob

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  • 4 weeks later...

Cheers Dave - it's a nearly new wing I bought from a chap called Tom on here, so there weren't many colour options! Having said that, it would probably have been my first choice; wanted to minimise the black from a UV absorbtion point of view.

Not sure whether this is an issue in the real world, but the standard Revo2 colour scheme has more black, particularly at the leading edge where I guess any wing is taking a bit of a battering. Just strikes me as not the ideal choice - plus bright orange maximises my visibility in profile... who knows, one day it might make the difference between being seen or not...

I arranged with Tom to send it to Aerofix for a service report before committing, and it came back with a clean "as new" report. (Aerofix were brilliant btw, no hesitation in heartily recommending them; excellent service & communication).

Having cut my teeth on an old £100 ground handling wing, the Revo2 was a breath of fresh air! It did take a few minutes at first to get used to, not helped by the fact that the brakes are setup for high hang-points, whereas on my ground handling harness they are low; lots of brake travel! Taking a simple wrap helped, but my Bailey has the high hang-points so I won't be adjusting them for now.

IMG_3236crop_zpsf67ba7bc.jpg

It wasn't too gusty on Saturday, so once it was overhead it generally stayed there. I was slightly surprised how important it proved to get the initial set-up correct; on a couple of occasions the wing-tips failed to inflate and the wing soon slid sideways (again, not helped by the long brake travel). It paid to fully lay the wing out, or at least take the time to build the wall. I guess in my excitement I just wanted to get it up!

IMG_3264crop_zps3a11b924.jpg

Lots of support from my "Ground Crew"...

In my book this is what learning is all about; I play and fail and faff about and cut corners and struggle and then work it out and do it properly and everything comes together. I know the right way to do it, but can still learn a lot (and learn the hard way) by doing it wrong...

So an hour of reverse launches & kiting, turning & walking forwards down the slope then reversing back up it. And the smile never left my face...

IMG_3238crop_zps34786710.jpg

The forward runs really highlighted the shortfalls of my old ground handling wing. For the first time (and, literally, from the first time...) I could walk forwards and feeeeel what was happening above and behind me. No oscillations, no panic, not even trying to look up, just steady forward progress with minimal and increasingly anticipatory brake input. The wing, my wing, was planted and sure; I just wanted to hit the start button and run until I was freeeeeee........

God I love this sport - and my feet haven't left the ground yet! If you're a newbie reading this and you're still undecided, do yourself a favour & go for it! I might just be the most rewarding decision of your life...

I'll be back to Alex & Mike at SaberAce as soon as the weather allows.

Fly Safe,

Bob

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I can resist everything except temptation... :wink:

After a few glasses of wine on Friday evening my head again hit the pillow swimming with thoughts of pre-flight checks, new wings & freshly serviced machines... and increasingly my first flight. I allowed myself a cheeky thought: what if I could go for my first flight tomorrow? What if Mike or Alex at SaberAce are available? What if I'm ready...? What if, what if, what ifzzzzzzzzzzzz......

Luckily Saturday started misty & damp - thank goodness for that, sigh of relief, it'll have to wait until another day. I haven't even attached my new wing to my freshly serviced machine yet, never mind run across a field with it. What was I thinking about, silly boy, just be patient.

And then the mist started to clear, and the sun started to make an appearance, and the leaves in the trees were momentarily stirred by the slightest breeze. I knew what I had to do.

Unfortunately neither Mike or Alex were available. However, my itch was getting worse and needed scratching; I can't just sit here, I gotta do something!

At around 2pm I packed the kit in the car (I'll just try a bit of ground handling), I spoke with my Uncle the farmer (I can't do much harm if it's just ticking over?), I drove the car to my favourite stubble field (maybe just a few forward runs under power), I unpacked my kit & assembled the cage (I could just see what it feels like when the wing lifts the weight of the motor...) and finally moved everything into position, setup the wing and in one final act of defiance strapped my helmet on (Well, I've gone to all this trouble, I'll regret it if I don't... and I'm sure Mike & Alex won't be tooooo cross with me...).

Unfortunately, there was one rather significant issue: zero wind. Not zero as in "ooh, it's a bit lighter than I expected" but zero as in, well, zero. Nil. Nothing. Not even the faintest whiff, not so much as a suggestion of air movement. Bugger. In 5-8mph last weekend the wing had handled like a dream, with reverse launches stable & repeatable. What to do, what to do???

I had to give it a go. And I did give it a go and, while I didn't get off the ground on Saturday, I did learn a great deal.

With a perfectly arranged wing facing slightly down hill (and into the direction any breeze should come from), trimmers pulled mostly in (position 2/5), carefully centred on the wing, A's in hand with slight, even pressure, motor happily ticking over I picked my spot on the horizon, took a deep breath and went for it.

Information overload! Remember, forward movement is your friend; keep striving forwards. The wing is up and central - good so far. A quick look up, excellent, now squeeeeeze the power and build momentum. Look at the horizon, don't worry about puddles in tramlines, more power, more speed, keep your hands UP stoopid, God I'm knackered but we're still going..... bloody hell this is getting fast, don't fall, it'll hurt if you fall, going left a bit, I can feel the harness getting lighter, KEEP YOUR LEGS RUNNING...... MUST.... KEEP.... GOING..... DON'T GIVE UP NOW, YOU'RE NEARLY THERE..... Hells teeth this is uncomfortably fast, not sure I can do it.... I'm losing confidence, still going a little leftish, you need to abort NOW but stay upright...... slowing down now, KILL THE MOTOR, stay upright, GOD THIS IS HEAVY! Stopping now, mind that puddle, where's the wing? Floating down in front, that's ok, I'm still upright, we're all in one piece..... BREATHE!!!! You can breathe now, it's all over and everything is going to be ok....

I don't think I've laughed so hard in my life; just me, on my own in the middle of a field, accompanied only by the tink tink tink of a cooling engine. A combination of knowing how ridiculous I must've looked, how knackered & out of breath I had become but mostly how relieved I was to still own four straight cage quarters, one unsplintered prop and one unmashed wing! Oh, and no broken bones or face-plants.

I was not yet a pilot, but I was now something I hadn't been 10 minutes ago: I was a survivor. :D

With hindsight it was probably (no, not probably, definitely) a tall order to successfully get my first flight in those conditions. Sure, it would've been lovely up there, but getting up there was beyond me, in practice if not in theory. If there had been a light breeze, maybe even 3-5mph.... who knows? But there wasn't and I didn't.

I learnt that to succeed in those conditions required 110% commitment; in all honesty I suspect my throttle was perhaps 80% open. I also learnt the importance of running upright, pushing back against the thrust of the motor; I'm sure I was leaning forwards too much, too intent on avoiding falling over. And there's no doubt I would've maximized my chances by pulling a little brake at maximum velocity!

While in some ways this little adventure was a complete failure, in that I didn't get airborne, I have no regrets and learnt a great deal. Maybe I was lucky not to fall flat on my face or trash my cage/prop/wing. Maybe I would've panicked at the reality of my first flight, or crashed heavily on landing. Maybe a thousand different things........

But despite all this, there is no "maybe I should've given it a go". I did give it a go, and I enjoyed every single minute of it.

(Maybe this should be a learning blog, not a training blog! :lol: )

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Hi Bob, excellent post :!:

That was no failure, you learnt a lot and got the feel for it - if nothing else the difficulty of nil wind launches.

On my first flight the instructor had me do a practice run with full power but with some brake on so I didn't take off. Then on the second run I was off. I thought it was a good training technique :fail:

Cheers, Alan

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is slowly becoming a "don't make the same mistakes as me" blog...

The forecast for last Sunday morning looked promising, so I set my alarm for 06:00. After what felt like a matter of moments it went off - I leapt out of bed and, within an hour or so, I was in my favourite stubble field going through my pre-flight checks.

The weather was indeed favourable, if you call brilliant blue skies, -2 degrees and a very light breeze ideal. Forty-five minutes and two failed forward launches later the adrenalin was starting to fade; but the conditions look so good, I've got to keep trying!

After an inquisitive visit from my father-in-law (“You don’t want me standing here watching, do you…?” before standing there and watching…) I noticed the breeze has stiffened slightly; a quick session ground-handling established a reverse launch was just about possible…

By the time I was back in the harness (tight squeeze), balaclava, helmet & gloves on and clipped in, it was definitely stronger than before. Newly buoyed, I switched the GoPro on and went for it:

[youtubevideo]

[/youtubevideo]

(Apologies for the Adobe watermark… and poor quality)

I guess the wing came up well enough, I turned & moved forward well enough and squeezed some power on. The only problem was a slight oscillation…

Fortunately (?) the stubble lines clearly show the changing trajectory. After a minor deviation left & right & left again, it’s clear that the ground-handling practice is paying off; just light brake inputs and I was staying central to the wing. But the trees to the left were getting uncomfortably close, plus there are some boggy bits where the combine left deep ruts. Even though the harness was getting nice & light, I took the decision to abort.

Which was fine and correct. I was happy to let the wing float down in front – however, as it did so it caught the breeze and blew back into wannabe pilot and his still spinning prop.

DISASTER!!! As I stood there newly gift-wrapped I feared the very worst; even having extracted myself (and after a great deal of swearing) I still knew it was going to be bad… I noticed Father-in-Law had disappeared sharpish too.

After unwrapping & dismantling & packing away and sulking and cursing a while I bit the bullet and laid the wing out in the shed. A minor miracle followed; the wing itself was undamaged – no loose stitching, no tears or strains, not even a mark. The prop was untouched too. The only damage was a single brake line, the stitching neatly pulled away from the wing, a quick and easy fix.

I’ve checked every inch of that brake line, from handle to wing – it feels and looks undamaged. I’ve even measured and compared it to the other one; identical in every respect. LUCKY BOY :shock::D:D:D

As always there are lessons to be learnt: switch the motor OFF at the earliest opportunity, pick your take-off spot carefully and USE 100% THROTTLE!!! As before, this mini-adventure has taught me a great deal – sometimes lessons are best learnt the hard way. I still enjoyed every moment of Sunday morning (well, until I tried to feed the wing to the prop) and will try to avoid these schoolboy errors next time.

Speaking of which, this next Sunday morning looks promising…. :wink:

Fly SAFE xx

(NB – please understand Alex & Mike at SaberAce remain blissfully unaware of this tomfoolery. Stay safe in the knowledge that, should I post my next missive from a hospital bed, IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT!!!)

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Playing on my own in the stubble field has taught me a great deal. For example, I know I have it all clear in my mind, but ask me to strap a motor on my back, pull a wing overhead and run across that field and all Hell breaks loose, such is the avalanche of information: sensory overload :shock:

The time & effort invested recently has certainly improved the ground handling, but once the motor is on I’m zoning into “I’m definitely going to fly this time” mode, and the wing-handling takes a back seat with inevitable consequences.

I realised I need more focussed practice, to get some powered runs under my belt under the watchful eye of my instructor. And so back to Rayne on a glorious Sunday morning for a consolidating session with Alex.

Glorious it might’ve been, but breezy it wasn’t – certainly not breezy enough for my favoured reverse launch. Still, after clearing an area of dew and laying out the wing I strapped on my ground-handling harness and enjoyed several forward launches. With the wind varying from light to very little, it really paid to hold onto the A’s until the wing was comfortably overhead.

After previously braking the wing a little too far back, I slightly over-compensated on a couple of occasions, making the forward run a rather stop-start affair. The light & variable wind wasn’t helping either... but it will rarely be “ideal” conditions when I’m actually flying either, so it’s important to learn in these varying conditions. If it was too easy everyone would be doing it!

Happy that the Revo2 was consistently doing what I wanted above me, I took a break and watched with green eyes as various club members took off into the wild blue yonder. Envious though I was I recognise the skills they demonstrated, and could learn a great deal from their successes and occasional failures. You could see those who had been trained and those brave souls who were self-taught! It reignited the fire within, and provided its own sensory overload; mmmm, the unmistakable sound & smell of 2-stroke engines! In a moment I was back watching the bike racing at Olivers Mount in Scarborough in the early Nineties :D

One bottle of water and two Go Ahead low-cal snack bars later (I need to lose more weight!) Alex asked me to set-up for some powered runs. We talked through the exercise, including some pre-flight checks, then cranked the trusty 175 into life.

Oh no we didn’t! :oops: It would run, but only just and only at first; soon it wouldn’t start at all. The diagnosis was “flooded”. Back on the ground, Alex started the remedial action, but with fuel pissing out from the carb something clearly wasn’t right so he decided we’d whip it off and check it out. Half an hour later we discovered a little corrosion was preventing some little brass thingmy from sliding where it needed to; a further half-hour cleaning & reassembling and it was running like a dream. Nice one Alex, it would’ve taken me five times as long to sort that one out!

It’s mid-afternoon and I’m back at the wing – radio & helmet on, strapped in, clipped in and we’re away: first run was short-lived as the wing slipped off to the left. Second went much better, but I’m leaning too far forwards. Third was probably the best – leaning further back, gaining more forward momentum, staying more central under the wing.... but still all very rushed with my feet looking more like Fred Flintstones. After a quick harness adjustment the fourth run was okaaay, but the wing went very light (not braked enough – again!) and just floated down. For the fifth run the wind moved and we slid off sideways again.... the sixth run we moved round a bit, but in my excitement I grabbed a handful of throttle and experienced a torque-induced zig-zag across the field.

Alex was ready to go again, but I called time – I was absolutely knackered! The wind was almost non-existent now, and I was getting very little lift, taking the full weight of the motor all the time.

The shadows were getting longer and, as various pilots returned home, I took the opportunity to chat with some of them about their experiences. They were largely very welcoming and only too keen to chat about wings, motors, the weather.... the usual nonsense with the expected dose of piss-taking. All good fun & grist to the mill.

Alex delivered, as always, the perfect combination of encouragement & instruction. He had a busy day at Rayne with many people taking his time, but somehow he remains completely unflustered and enthused; thank you again Sir. He appeared happy with the progress we have made, and suggested with a slightly stronger & more consistent wind I’d be asking to take off within a handful of powered runs... that’s very encouraging and a nice thing to hear.

Perhaps an impatient part of me went to Rayne yesterday just wanting to fly; well, I didn’t... but I will. There’s no hurry, and in my book no substitute to progressive learning through experience. The key now through the darkest winter months is to keep my knowledge and technique fresh – I don’t want to come out of hibernation in April to find myself relearning. When I “bit the bullet” I proudly declared “I will fly this year”; maybe, maybe – but if I don’t it’s for very good reasons, and that perhaps is the biggest lesson of all.

Fly safe & warm, good people xx

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