Document Sample
					                                                 The Improver Issue Paramotoring

                                                I FEEL LIKE
                                            AN F1 DRIVER ON
                                            POLE WAITING
                                            FOR THE LIGHTS
                                            TO GO GREEN...
                                            ...standing with one leg                He makes eye
                                            forward and my arms                  contact.
                                            outstretched like an eagle              Gone is the
                                            ready to soar, I listen for Alex’s   mild mannered
                                            instructions over the headset.       expression that
                                            The propeller on my back             I’d got so used
                                            rumbles and purrs. It makes          to during
                                            my arms shake – or is that the       training.
                                            adrenalin making me quiver?          Instead, he’s
                                               Kes, my usually placid            taken on the
                                            instructor, has three fingers        persona of a
                                            outstretched in front of my          boxing coach,
                                            face; each digit ready to count      willing on his
                                            me down to my first ever             fighter to a
                                            paramotor launch.                    knockout. Alex

                                            later jokes, “It’s as if he’s        up a laminar jetstream of air        I’ll be running straight into wind.    weight on my back and the             amongst all these things
                                            looking into your soul.” He’s        behind me that’ll help the wing      If I fall outside of the wind line,    harness straps across each thigh.     happening at once.
                                            right about that.                    come up more easily in just a        it’s most likely I’ll end up on a      But the wing is up now, I’ve             “Full power now Dan, full
                                               Kes’ body language tells me       few moments time, thoughts           heap on the floor and face the         released the A-lines and I’m          power now,” urges Alex.
                                            it’s show time. I wait to hear       about what I should be doing         embarrassment of breaking the          keeping into wind. Alex directs          Music to my ears. I squeeze
PHOTOS Dean Eldridge

                                            the bell ding for the start of       next come haphazardly and out        carbon fibre prop. I’ll then have      me all the time. The wing stays       my fingers all the way on the
                                            round one but it doesn’t come,       of order. I try to get control of    to sign it and it will go alongside    right above me. That’s a good         trigger. Suddenly it feels like
                                            instead I hear Alex’s voice in       my thinking and OK, so it’s off      the others who have met the            thing. I had been worrying about      someone’s behind me giving me
                                            my headset telling me to             the power. Run forward. Lift the     same fate and are now trophied         it falling to one side and throwing   a huge push forward like a child
                                            throttle up to half power.           wing up. Arms up. Release the        on the hangar wall at Skyschool.       me off the wind line but it’s all     on a swing. It becomes easier to
                                               I’m ready for this now. I         A-lines. Keep directly into wind.       Kes counts me down.                 working out right for now.            run, the pack feels lighter and
                                            gently squeeze the throttle          Hold the direction. Check my            “THREE, TWO, ONE”                      “Trickle the power on now          then I’m off the ground. And it
                                            trigger in my right hand.            wing is straight above me.              “GO!”                               Dan,” Alex calls quickly over the     feels absolutely magic. I keep
                                            Instantly the prop spins up          Trickle the power on. Then give it      I run forward with all I’ve got.    radio. The prop reacts                my legs running following the
                                            behind me and tries to push          full power. And Run, Run, Run…       Kes pulls on my harness and            instantaneously as I manage to        advice and they’re still kicking
                                            me over by I resist with my            I check the windsock one final     ensures I’m tracking into wind. It’s   use a free brain cell to make my      through the air as I climb up
                                            legs. As the propeller shoots        time and make absolutely sure        tricky to run because of the           fingers squeeze the trigger in        overhead Alex…”

                                           From the Publishers of                                                                                                                      January/February 2010 Go Flying! 29
         The Improver Issue Paramotoring
                                               A Parajet paramotor with a single
                                               cylinder engine and carbon fibre
                                               propeller. The fuel tank is at the
                                               bottom of the cage.

MD, Alex

  Skyschool uses paramotor
  equipment made by Parajet in the
  UK. Headed up by Gilo Cardozo –
  the man behind a number of
  engineering feats such as the
  ‘Volution’ range of paramotors, a
  supercharged paramotor that flew
  him and Bear Grylls over Mount
  Everest and more recently, the
  Skycar which is the first, two
  seater, high performance, road
  legal, bio-fuelled flying car;
  capable of providing rally car
  performance on and off road, and
  light aircraft performance after
  just a few minutes of wing
     Once you have the paramotor,
  you can then choose the type of
  wing you want depending on your

  weight, the type of flying you
  want to do and your experience.
  Highly recommended are wings
  designed and manufactured by                    MY FEET DANGLE OVER

  Mike Campbell Jones of Paramania
  Powergliders.                               THE PLOUGHED FIELDS OF THE
                                              CATALAN COUNTRYSIDE
                                                                                                                                                                Alex flies you in a trike first for familiarisation.

   “I’m surprised how high I get so           sunlounger next to a swimming pool. I        sure fire way of keeping you enthusiastic     Finally, I change my hand position, hold     beer, talk about flying, skydiving, skiing –
quickly. All I hear now are words of          could imagine cruising along on a long       about it and already I know a Parajet         the button down long enough and then         you name it – and then spend the rest of
congratulations over the radio as I soar      cross country flight on a summer’s           Volution paramotor will be going on my        everything goes silent. I continue my        the evening surrounded by like-minded
upwards. I’m grinning ear to ear and let      evening back in the UK after a long day      Christmas list.                               approach.                                    souls watching and voting on a
out a whoop of excitement. I climb too        at work.                                        I turn base leg and throw my hips             “OK Dan that’s looking good now,          skydiving competition filmed earlier on
high so I power back off but my finger           For the next 10 minutes, Alex lets me     forward to get out of the harness in          come right slightly, come right slightly.”   in the day with clapping, cheering, loud
throttle control is not quite there yet and   fly circuits around Ordis Aerodrome.         preparation for landing. Just like in a          It’s working out great. The approach      music and laughter. As far as flying days
I dip and climb, dip and climb before         Unlike the first solo in a light aircraft    light aircraft, you land into wind but        feels good. I feel good. In fact, coming     go, it’s well up there as one of the best
Alex directs me left to turn crosswind for    which is one circuit to land and over far,   with a paramotor it is absolutely critical.   in to land wasn’t concerning me half as      I’ve ever had.”
my first ever paramotoring circuit.           far too soon, in the paramotor I got to      There are no medals here for attempting       much as launching was. I remember to
   My field of view is like nothing I’ve      stay up for as long as I wanted.             any kind of crosswind landing. A cross        get my head and chest forward ready to       POWERING UP
seen before; just my feet dangling over          “Let me know when your hands start        wind here will see you kissing the            start running on landing. I flare two        Rewind a few days earlier to when I first
the ploughed fields of the Catalan            to get cold and we’ll bring you down,”       ground. My attention turns to the             metres above the grass, look ahead (not      arrived at Skyschool at Ordis Aerodrome.
countryside. Looking further round the        Alex calls over the radio.                   windsock once more and Alex also              at the ground) and I land with a slight      From April until November, director Alex
horizon I see the coast of the Costa             “They’re fine for the moment,” I call     passes turn corrections over the radio as     stumble, more due to the surprise of         Ledger runs weekly paramotoring
Brava and then further north, the             back, pressing the PTT button on the         I turn final.                                 taking the weight of the 20kg                courses and has taught over 100
mountains on the border with France           side of my headset. I am in fact starting       At about 200ft Alex gives me the call      paramotor on my back again.                  students this year. Flights to Girona
with a dusting of snow – the first of the     to feel the chill on my fingertips (it’s     to cut the engine. What? Cutting the             I am absolutely elated – as the video     Airport with Ryanair are easy to pick up
winter season.                                surprisingly cold even in Spain in           engine? Yes this is absolutely fine to do     footage on GF’s Facebook page shows.         cheaply. Ordis is then just 30 minutes by
   Alex brings me back from my                November) but I want to stay up here as      this, even during flight. This lets you fly   Alex, Kes and Deano have done a great        car. Accommodation is on site in a
daydreaming and asks me to sit down           long as possible and take it all in.         as a paraglider then all you do is power      job in helping me achieve my first ever      converted barn and meals are taken in
properly into the harness. I’d practised      Turning left and right, I begin to get       up the engine again when you need it. I       paramotor flight… and I can’t wait to do     the log cabin base or on trips into the
this on the ground and I was soon             used to controlling the wing and my          press and hold the red (kill) button under    it again.                                    local town of Figueres (birth town of
reclining in a lovely seated position and     throttle control and height keeping          my thumb. The engine keeps running.              That evening we make a drive down         Salvador Dali and has a museum
taking the strain off the leg straps across   improve very quickly. Making fast            I’m not pressing it properly. I try again     to the skydiving mecca of Empurai Brava      dedicated to him). In short everything is
my thighs. It felt like relaxing into a       progress in any sport or new activity is a   and it cuts out briefly then re-starts.       on the coastline. In the Skybar, we drink    in place for you to learn how to

30 Go Flying! January/February 2010                                                                                                                                                      From the Publishers of


                                                                                                                                          Kes helps Dan get the lines set up prior to launch.

                                                                                            Flying solo: Dan paramotors for
                                                                                            the first time in front of
                                                                                            beautiful scenery in Spain.

The view overhead Ordis Aerodrome in Spain.                          Picturesque: Skyschool’s log cabin base at Ordis.

paramotor and make it into a holiday.         However, many go on to the                      too. Paramotoring tends to appeal to
                                                                                                                                          A b urs t o f e ffo rt to ru n f orw a rd a n d li ft u p t he win g .
Alex adds, “It’s a little adventure capital   Intermediate course to learn low level          the more adventurous pilots who may
here, everything you want is within           flying, precision landings, limited fuel        also ride motorcycles and go skiing too.
driving distance whether it’s skiing,         tasks and cross country tasks. All of           As Skyschool instructor Dean Eldridge or
skydiving, or mountain biking.”               these advanced flights are shared with          ‘Deano’ puts it, “Paramotoring is
   Currently there is no formal pilot’s       Skyschool instructors. Later on in your         motorcycling for the sky”, and like
licence for paramotoring although             paramotoring career, if you’re ever stuck       motorcyclists, paramotors often like to
training is well advised. The sport is        with people to fly with they’re more            take to the air with others. It was video
overseen by both the BMAA and the             than happy to go up with you. It’s a big        footage from a flight that Deano made
BHPA but there are also independent           community and friends are quickly               with Danny Weston, a paramotor pilot
instructors and the Paramotor Club            made. Would-be paramotor pilots can             who learnt with Skychool last year,
(legally you do not have to be affiliated     also do a 12 day ‘Addiction’ course             instructor Kester Haynes and Rob
to any of these organisations to fly a        which is a combined Begineers and               Furnival that really opened my eyes to
paramotor). The BMAA stopped its              Intermediate course for £1245. Two-day          the beauty and appeal of this kind of
paramotor training courses in April 2008      tasters are also available in the winter        flying (type ‘flying in Catalunya 2009’
and deferred training responsibilities to     months in the UK at Mere in Wiltshire           into YouTube to see it). A day before my
the BHPA. Alex, however, has built up a       (Parajet’s HQ).                                 arrival, the group had flown along a
great reputation for paramotor training          So what kind of people are learning          valley up to medieval town on a hillside
and his Beginner courses (6 days £745)        to fly paramotors? Alex says most are           called Castello Follite de la Roca. Deano
and Intermediate courses (a further 6         aged 35 to 60 years old with about five         is a video and photography guru (check
day course £745) are proving extremely        percent under 30. “We get a lot of              out and with the
popular. The Beginners course                 airline pilots with thousands of flying         help of a video camera attached to his
culminates with you flying at least one       hours who find paramotoring                     helmet he captured all that’s appealing
solo flight. You can then go and do your      reinvigorates their love for flying again,”     about paramotoring. I’d not even
own flying depending on your level of         he says. Groups of friends or father/sons       stepped near a paramotor wing but
confidence back home in the UK.               tend to book up a week away together            after watching his footage I was            Dan squeezes the throttle in his right hand; instant power.

From the Publishers of                                                                                                                                                  January/February 2010 Go Flying! 31

                                                                                                                                          The legs just starting to break free from the ground.

                                                                                                       Paramotoring over a

 EXPEDITIONS BY PARAMOTOR                                                                              village in India.

  Alex is well aware of the fun you can have paramotoring             communities that desperately need it. The principle has
  but he also has plans to use them for more serious                  already been proven after SkySchool supported John
  reasons. He is keen to push the boundaries and show                 Blashford Snell and the Scientific Exploration Society
  that they can be flown for practical applications such as           (SES) on an expedition in search for a remote meteorite
  pipeline inspections or aerial surveying. Taking this               crater in the middle of the Bolivian rainforest. In July
  further, he wants to fly in areas of Botswana next year             2007, Deano took off from the local village football pitch
  and show how the vantage point from a paramotor can                 to carry out an aerial photo mission of the site. John said
  be used to observe changes in land use, to seek out new             afterwards that it was “one of the SES´s most successful
  water supplies and also land out at remote locations                blends of scientific discovery and community aid under
  delivering support, medicine and supplies to those                  very difficult conditions”.                                         Airborne: keeping the power on full, Dan climbs up and away.

certain that this was going to become a        providing you land somewhere without         within a paramotor course is possibly
new hobby for me. The seed for                 a retrieve problem i.e. you want to land     that bit easier if you already hold a PPL
wanting to become a paramotor pilot is         where someone can drive and pick you         and have flying experience. Airmanship
planted in many ways but like so many          up. It’s perhaps best to fly a circular      principles can be applied to any kind of
sports it’s important to think ahead to        route but you must keep in mind that         aerial activity.
how you are going to keep it up.               stronger than expected headwinds can            In short, if you’re finding the cost of
Perhaps the draw for many is that there        affect a return journey. Wind is key and     light aircraft flying too much, then
is pretty much no regulation; you can          this tends to limit the number of flyable    paramotoring may be the flying fix you
load a paramotor in the back of your car       days, particularly in the UK. Ideally you    need. You can improve very quickly and
and launch from anywhere that’s                want a day with anything from 5 to 12        this keeps the enthusiasm level high.
suitable. You can even land in a field         knots of wind. More than 12 knots            Young or old you needn’t think it’s
next to a petrol station, fill up, then take   and/or bumpy and thermic conditions          too difficult either; paramotoring,
off again and continue on your way.            should mean you make the wise                although it looks like it, it is not an
Landing out in this way is a big step for      decision to stay on the ground.              extreme sport and flights are steady,
any paramotor pilot but the trick is              Planning a route is similar to light      relaxing and cover the ground at around
keeping tabs on your fuel. There isn’t a       aircraft flying and rules say you must not   30 to 40mph. You need to take a 26kg
contents gauge so Deano says fuel              fly below 500ft agl except for landing or    load on your back but all levels of fitness
usage is something you have to time for        takeoff. Generally, most pilots cruise       should be able to cope with the takeoff
yourself. It depends a lot on weight and       around at 800 to 1000ft. GPS can be          and landing runs once correct technique
how you use the throttle but generally         used though as well as normal aviation       has been learnt. And correct technique
speaking you’ll use about four to five         charts for navigation. Of course, you        is vital as I discovered later on in my
litres an hour. Add some two-stroke oil        have to remain clear of controlled           course. They say you don’t become a
into the tank and you’re looking at an         airspace and it can be also good practice    true paramotor pilot until you break a
hour’s airborne time for just under a          to carry a handheld VHF radio to make        propeller. I’ll leave it for you to decide
tenner. It means that long cross country       position calls.                              whether I did or not… GF!
flights are doable for very little cost –         There’s no doubt that everything                           Flying solo: a beginner’s paramotoring course is complete!

From the Publishers of                                                                                                                                          January/February 2010 Go Flying! 33

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