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Patrick's Progression


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  • 2 weeks later...

Last flight now receding into the mist of time (and Autumn), with no prospect of getting a fly able day to coincide with when I can make it to Membury at the same time as an instructor

I was very tempted to take the plunge and go it alone yesterday evening from the local field.

But I still have to meet with the landowner for final negotiations and think I still need a couple more supervised flights.

The conditions were obviously good just to the west of Reading as my daughter said she saw 3 over Pangbourne on the way home last night.

Last Saturday, in the vain hope the wind would die down for Sunday, I scoped out a friends field in Aldworth, with the plan of flying from Membury to there , which my flight planning showed would be no more than a half hour flight with the likely prevailing wind.

But it wasn't to be on two or three counts

1 the wind was still too strong

2 the field although a similar size to the triangle at Membury was hemmed in on all sides by high trees and with a small copse in the middle. In time I'm sure it would be fine but not as a first landing out experience.

3 I didn't know whether SW would give the nod.

So that plan is shelved for another day.

Fingers crossed for some fly able weekend weather so I can finish up at Membury and get out on my own and make use of any fine Winter windows, otherwise I can see myself forgetting it all by the time next Spring comes along.

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Hey Pat.....you will not forget it, trust me.

If you don't fly from now until next spring.....all you need is a few inflations of ground handling, and the adrenalin will kick in, and it will all come back to you.

Never lose the passion....well we can't really, it's like a drug.....but a good drug.

Safe flying.



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Dude, do call if you fancy a fly in the evening. :-) I can take a blat up on the bike and spot you or fly from here and meet up in the air :-)


Thanks for that, Simon and I will certainly take the opportunity if it arises , but I think weekday evenings may already be lost, but a nice glass off on a weekend afternoon/ evening is still a chance if the days been too windy.

OK to 2 more flights :D

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DAYS 21 September 14th. Flight 8


Took up Simons offer for an evening flight, when I spotted a calm evening following today's rain. Got there around 5pm, very overcast, even looking like it might rain again. There was about an 8mph breeze from the North, so a reverse looked good.

Met James ( RAF pilot) down to try out a new wing and we both set up and did a bit of GH while we waited for Simon to arrive, which he did on the new toy, an old but very tidy Exup, unfortunately, though it had developed a fuel pump leak on the way over.

While S got the bike stored in the iFly hanger I preflighted and warmed the engine and set up for a reverse, but all the time the wind was dropping and I realised I need to change to forward.

A lack of commitment on the first attempt had me aborting before I got going. A quick talking to from Simon, the gist of which was " you've got to use the motor right from the start in nil wind"

So reset , centred and gave it about 1/4 throttle even before my stride forward.

Oh. I see! That really did the trick! Combined with a good centred rise on the wing I was soon skipping across the field. With no wind and even with full throttle I wasn't feeling that slight tug from the wing that said" brakes to unstick" so I kept going. But with the motor pushing and the wing taking most of the load, not much efforts required.

I was nearly at the windsock now, and I could just feel a bit more lift, so in went a bit of brake and away we went but not with quite the usual punch I'm used to with a bit of wind.

The climb out was right over the services and my audience really wasn't that far below me as headed out over the motorway, I must say I did think, the motor better not quit now!

My plan with 5litres on board was to head into what wind there was North to the White Horse, as soon as I had som height, I thought it was time to try full trim. So brakes parked I let both out simultaneously to full. All very easy and without drama, just put in a bit more throttle.

I then had a great flight on a lovely clearing evening with a spectacular sunset appearing in the gap between cloud and horizon.

The mirror came I handy for monitoring the fuel and I reached the White Horse with about half gone. I figured that was still plenty for the downwind leg. (I landed with 1lt as it turned out)

My landing was too long, combination of too much starting height and no wind, and another seated landing!

My first proper flight away, a "near perfect forward launch:SW", 16 miles, 36 mins, great views along the Ridgeway and a perfect sunset.

This is what it's all been about :lol::lol:

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Hi Pat

Sounds like your at the same stage I was a year ago and reminds me of my first longest flight to the whitehorse 10 months ago, I failed 12 launches on that flight and all my previous flights I was landing on my arse 50% of the time and I really struggled with my forward launches!


This year I have really improved and done many XC flights, cracked the forward launch and now landing on my feet every time! :-)

At the end of last year to beginning of this year, I had about 3 months break from flying because of the weather, but you don't forget, so stay focussed and you will crack it!

Good Luck!


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Thanks, Andy. So there is hope! I actually did a really good forward launch last night, the thing I got last night was to use a decent amount of power even before you start moving, so you are really resisting it before you take your first strides. Made all the difference.

The landing standing is yet to come!

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It took me ages to get the forward launch technique, I cracked it after I had someone film the failed attempts on video, this made me realise I was hesitating far too long before bringing on the power! So if its totally nil wind the key is to build up the power as you are pulling up the wing, which sounds like you are now doing!

Tips for landing which I found helped me land on my feet:-

Don't flare too early! To prevent this I look to the horizon (never down at your feet!), then put one foot forward and the other foot back waiting to feel the ground with the back foot (the back foot should be hanging slightly lower than the front foot assuming you are hanging out of the seat!). As soon as you feel the slightest touch of the ground with the back foot it's a signal to flare and your already in the right position to run off the landing on your front foot.

My landings are still not perfect, I come in fast on trims out to +2 reflex and my wing usually over flys me slightly and sometimes crashes down in front of me (not very elegant or good for the wing), something I'm trying to improve on!

Also, I'm trying to crack the spot landings, I lay a blanket down in the middle of the field and I haven't managed to land on it yet, but inching closer each time!

Great training blog!


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That landing advice sounds spot on and definitely chimes with what Simon is saying that I'm flaring too early. It's that the ground rush just makes you think you have to start, so, I like the idea of looking ahead rather than down.

I find that because I've started to flare too early, I've have bled too much speed and lost the brake authority I would have had , if I carried more speed into the final flare, so I just cant get that nice skimming final flare that allows you just to gracefully step down.

Still, all things to try next time!

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DAY 22 20th September Flight 9


The weather now looked good for flying for the next week "Dan Sarf". But I was away for the weekend so needed to make the best of Friday being the only day I would see any of it.

Predicted 6mph breeze was blowing when I got to Membury so looked promising for an easy forward launch. And that was confirmed on a few practice ground handles for each direction.

Simon and Colin turned up and after quick coffee I started my checks and preparation. Both studiously left me alone through the whole process , reasoning I needed to be able to launch completely unsupervised if I was going to go flying alone from my own field.

I had decided I had enough experience to risk being able to handle the distraction of a videocam, so on went the Go Pro on the chest mount.

Having had no photographic record of any of my training up to now I really thought I better get some before people started thinking this blog was no more than the ramblings of some wannabe fantasist paramotor pilot and I hadn't ever been near 30 square meters of nylon and a big 2 stroke fan!

Luckily I chose a day when everything went very well for my first effort!

Spielberg, it ain't , but its a record of a milestone.


I had a plan for a triangular XC , taking in Liddington Hill and Ashdown House, which I had run through Runway HD and got the nod from Simon before fuelling with 6lts for the predicted 4lts. I was also given the task on return of landing in a 100ft circle from 500ft engine off. A bit more on that later!

My forward launch went very nearly perfectly, Simons only comment in the debrief being I held onto the As a tad too long. This is Ok in a little breeze but in true nil wind could collapse the leading edge. I really think the technique finally grasped last time of the application of a good dose of power before you even move has transformed forward launches for me. So I can definitely tick the launch with any assistance box.

So off I went West into wind heading for Liddington Hill. But not before i realised I had forgotten my mirror fuel guage, still i decided that a 50% surplus on the planned fuel should see me alright. As it happened i landed still with 3 lts.

It was interesting to get my first experience of what I guess was a bit of hill lift off some of the steep slopes, the surprise was how high the effect could be felt.

At Liddington I turned back towards the airfield via Ashdown House and came speeding back now I was downwind

My task was to get over the triangle at 500ft cut the engine and hit a 100ft circle . I didn't cut the engine early enough but I did hit my chosen spot in the middle AND I LANDED ON MY FEET!!!!

I held my nerve and kept my hands off the brakes until the last minute and then gave it a good handful, a little too much, so it started to balloon , released a little then back on the brakes as it levelled and then played them to give me a two step upright landing. A great feeling when you get it right! It only took me 9 goes

A great morning was rounded off when Simon signed me off to fly from elsewhere but on the promise to return to finish the spot landing tasks on some visits to Membury in the near future.

That won't be any sort of hardship as it will be a nice little XC to Membury from Pangbourne and they don't get rid of me that easily, as I intend to make sure, I hone my skills and keep learning. :acro:

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DAY 22 20th September Flight 9

the technique finally grasped last time of the application of a good dose of power before you even move has transformed forward launches for me.

Do you keep the power on or just a quick blast to aid inflation then off again?

Well done on the foot landing thing - i seem to be getting worse in that respect!

9 out of 11 flights while training were good landings (on my feet), three out of five since going solo and i`ve stumbled/fell over...

Just need to fine-tune the technique on the Synth.

I know what you mean about the flare - it seems to me if you apply a bit of brake/very light flare on the Synth to get a `feel` for the wing (biting point)you don`t have much left to play with on proper flare. Think i`ll just hold off and go for one big f-off flare next time (today hopefully).

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Here I am having managed a couple of decent forwards, and trying to give advice like an expert!!

But I have found, that after you have sorted yourself out, centred up, and all that, take two steps back, apply power gently but progressively until you are leaning back into it. Difficult to say how much, but you are standing holding a definite resistance against the thrust, then do your two steps forward holding that power level , pushing on the As, if all feels good, feed the power in to full throttle smartly and progressively.

I get you completely on the flaring too early. I think you just need to hold off, but flare decisively at the end, like that you retain momentum, maintaining brake authority through the speed you have carried. It seems counter intuitive, but its obviously right, because it works!

Now wait for the real experts to tell us we're talking bollox!!!

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apply power gently but progressively until you are leaning back into it. Difficult to say how much, but you are standing holding a definite resistance against the thrust, then do your two steps forward holding that power level , pushing on the As, if all feels good, feed the power in to full throttle

Sounds good, but i just feel a bit nervous of a propeller/line/wing interface if it all goes wrong!

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Well done Pat, I must have just missed you yesterday, I had 1 one duff take off, then managed to get up but couldn't get in the seat, so 1 circuit then, a very dodgy landing in the nettles.


Sorry to have missed you, but congrats for getting up. I had a flight where I didn't get in the seat, a very unpleasant experience and can't have been good landing in the nettles. I got a bit obsessive about making sure the harness adjustments were right after that, when flying the club machine, because it can change each time you get back to it. But with your own machine, once it's right, it's right.

I always do a couple of trial squats before take off to check the seat flips up, now.

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