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uglybob up up and away..


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conversation at Christmas party with bloke i hadn't seen for yrs.

him: what do you do?

me: race motocross, what do you do?

him: i raced road bikes, but i fly paramotors now, ducati is in the back of the shed.

me: I was looking to at microlights, have been up a couple of times, but i'd rather have a 2st

strapped to my back.

Later in January..

get a copy of "from the ground up" for my birthday, and call Paul Haxby. knowing the weather is pants for training leave it at that.

Early March.

Happen to be about 5 mins from Paul's by accident, so go and meet him. Pointless trying to learn with somebody if you don't get on. Arrange to commence operation " up up and away" last week of march ( I've got some holidays to use before April)

Monday day 1

Arrive and meet Paul and my new training buddy Martin. ( He's already got his own kit, I best start saving...)

Paul gets us in a harness and gets out this bloody big wing. The wind seems OK to me, (there is some??) but i know nothing. Paul gets the wing in the air for a bit, before putting it gently back on the ground, declaring it too windy. We unload a couple of small (10m ish) training wings. Strapped in and ready to go, Up.. crash. Up...crash and so on.

A quick stop for a coffee, and were back at it. Up.. crash. Up.. Crash. Luckily Paul is quite fit, and is able to straighten out the crumpled heap of wing as quickly as the pair of us can fly them into the ground.

The wind is slowly picking up, unlike our skill level. By lunchtime its too windy for even the small wing. I can tell this as get lofted into the air. My first uncontrolled flight. about 1 1/2 foot.

We are then offered the chance to call it a day, or pile in the back of the van for a little theory.

Theory it is then..

We are guided through a brief out line of the syllabus, with Paul being patient enough to deal with our many stupid questions. At this point I would like to recommend "from the ground up" again, as it really does seem to cover everything we were discussing.

So time to pack the wings up and go home, having had a mildly successful day running around.

But no, as we leave the van the wind has dropped, its now 5pm and its light for at least another hour. Back into our harnesses and off we go.

Having had a break it seems we are starting to understand a bit about what to do and how to avoid sending the wing into ground, but the wind really has dropped. I notice Paul is messing about by the van and assume he is packing stuff up, but no. He getting the full size wing back out, and 10mins later I'm sat underneath it as it flutters about, with me in control :-) Martin has his wing up and is looking good. I practice turning to face forwards and then back, Turn forwards then back, dreaming of my first flight. Paul's voice then chirps up from behind me, Keep running, left hand down a bit, keep going, he then grabs the bottom of my harness, "put a bit of brake on " and proceeds to launch me skyward... My second "flight" probably about 3 ft, but it may as well been a mile, I had flown, left the ground, was airborne.... briefly. Now the light had gone, passing cars had their headlights on. By the time we left the field it was 7pm, and i was ready for bed....


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Thanks for the positive responses...

I shall continue.

Tuesday wind..

Wednesday wind...

but late afternoon a text: "training window early Thursday for a couple of hours if interested?"


Alarm set for 6am, awake at 5am just in case. Its about an hours drive. Arrive at site for 8am as instructed. Martin, my buddy is already here. Wind nice and light, but will be getting stronger by 11am. Harness on, quick pull on the A's and up we go. Straight away it feels different, I'm in control of the wing not the other way around. Get the wing stable, and turn, remember brakes off.. check.. and run forward. Several paces later the wing slopes off to one side and crumples to the floor, but i don't care. This is way better than I expected. Something that was actually impossible 2 days ago feels natural, and not forced. Paul is quite hands off, and lets us play around for a while just to get a feel for what is going on.

After half an hour we try a forward launch, while the wind is still light. Risers over arms, a's in hand and off we go, running forward eyes firmly fixed on the wing.

"don't look at the wing, look where your going" OK, I glance down, then straight back up, just in case. Having reached the end of the field, I bundle the wing over my shoulder and make my way back to the wind sock and start again.

We are given some more tasks to perform, "see if you can steer across the field from side to side, it will help you to learn a bit more control. And stop looking at the wing all the time"

As a beginner not looking is really hard, but as the morning progresses I start to become aware of what the wing is doing through the feel on the harness. We try some more exercises: Standing still, keeping the wing above us (without running backwards like headless chickens). We try and fly the wing back downwind to the far end of the field. Then more practice turning,

wing up, stable, and turn. Take a few paces, then turn back as if to abort.

The wind has been gradually increasing, and as predicted by 11am its starting to get gusty, one minute its OK, then my over weight 9st nothing gets taken for a run down wind. Its time to call it a day.

I'm amazed how much progress can be made in a short 3 hr burst. My buddy arranges to go again on Sunday, but its my first motocross race of the season so I'll have to give it a miss...

The clocks go back this w'end, so i'm hoping to get some evenings in next week if we get any good weather.

Another successful lesson, and I'm home in time for lunch and an afternoon nap :-)

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Packing it in, Bob at the beginning is the way to do it . 3hr stints as frequently as possible, stops brain fatigue but stops you having to re-learn from too long a gaps. A couple more days like that and they'll have you on your first flight. I did my first lesson on a Sunday for 2hrs, took off every flyable day of the next week and got my first flight on day 5 of training, I think. Welcome to the addiction.

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