Intro: Flying a Powered Paraglider
My husband has always wanted to fly, but I thought it was far too risky. The opposite was true, flying a powered paraglider can be very safe when you follow the rules. We wanted to put together a tutorial for anyone who has the desire to fly to understand that they really can do it. I will say that these steps are not to replace a real instructor, but that these steps are things to remember, practice, and be familiar with when you are ready to fly.
Step 1: Get Comfortable With Your Machine
The most important thing you need to do is become very familiar with your machine and all the major aspects until you can perform them safely and consistently.
The first 3 parts are:
1- practicing kiting the wing so that you are able to pull it into the air and steer it so that it is straight and level with the ground.
2- Become familiar with the throttle and how to ease into a full throttle and as well as releasing the throttle smoothly. This worked great using tie downs hooked to a soccer goal. It helps you understand the power and feel how a full throttle really feels.
3- And lastly is to wear it on your back and get use to using the throttle while walking around. Since this flying machine is for 'Foot Launching' it is important to really become comfortable with wearing it. Going into details on each of these things would be a long tutorial in itself.
Step 2: Get a Good Lay of the Kite
If there is a breeze you need to figure out the direction and angle of it and lay your kite out on the ground so you will be running into the wind. Make sure the ground and path ahead of you is clear of rocks, branches, trees, ditches, cactus, and so on. You want a clear path for you to run as well as where your kite will touch the ground or may touch the ground. Check all your strings and make sure none of them are twisted.With your back to the wind, pull the handles and bring your kite into the air to find the exact direction of the wind as you steer it in order to have it steady. Then let your kite come back to the ground and as the back edge of the kite touches the ground, take a step forward so all the sails are open and facing up. The sails on this kite are the very front edge of the kite, they are square holes that allow the air to flow into the kite. You may need to hand straighten the very edges of the wing. This may take a few times to get it right. The first picture shows the steering the kite and the second picture shows the lay of the kite. Sometimes the white sails would be on top of the blue back edge which is fine as well.
A good lay of the kite will be very helpful and reduce unsuccessful attempts. It is important enough to redo the lay after every failure to take off, even though it is time consuming. It allows the entire kite to come up at the same times instead of being off balanced and very hard to correct.
Step 3: Inspect and Warm Up Your Machine
It is important to inspect your machine every time you fly making sure the gas is on and that it sounds right when you start it up, and do NOT hold the throttle as you start up the machine. Make sure you brace your machine properly when you check the throttle to keep it from spinning on you and having the propeller turn towards you. Listen and make sure it sounds right. Then shut it off before putting it on and getting into position. This also allows you to make sure all the bubbles in the gas line are taken out before you fly.
Also my husband's machine decided to take a long time to kill the motor so after he realized it he has been able to judge how much sooner he needs to kill the motor in order to land.
Step 4: Prepare for Take Off
Put on the harness and helmet (is recommended) and make sure they are correct and secure. Then put your machine on your back and make sure you attach the kite to you as well. Then start the motor and stand a little bent over so the propeller angled up and not down at the kite. Once everything is in order you are ready for take off.
My husband uses a helmet that attaches to our GPS' and it has been great. He pushes a button on the side of his helmet to talk to me and I can track where he is.
Step 5: Start to Run
Look ahead and pick a point you will run towards a long ways off and then pull the kite up and begin to run. Be sensitive to the kite as your touch will also help you know if it is tipping one direction. My husband would look back at the kite but after a lot of practice and a helmet he could feel it coming up and just look up instead. Sometimes looking back would alter the wing and he had more failures to launch from it, but at the same time he was able to take off more because he knew what was happening.
As soon as that kite is up, look up at it, only glancing at where you are going for split seconds. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE KITE and get the kite straight and level with the ground.
Step 6: DON'T SIT DOWN and Avoid Riser Twist
Once it is level and you are in full control, squeeze the throttle until full throttle (depending on the breeze mph it may pick you up quick, or you may have to run quite a ways.) Once the kite begins to lift, you will have the natural instinct to sit down, DO NOT SIT DOWN! Keep your feet down and be prepared to run again if needed.
The kite will lift and once you are far enough in the air you can sit down. Just like if you stood on a weighing scale and squatted down really quick you will see the numbers jump super high, the movement of sitting down too early will add weight to your body and you can drop altitude and hit your machine back on the ground which can easily break your propeller or more.
We have watched a lot of YouTube videos on Powered Paragliding and there are 2 very common mistakes. The first is to look up at your kite because the kite could be so angled to the side and if your feet come off the ground, your weight will need to swing to center itself under the kite and you will hit the ground. The next thing is to not sit down. We have seen so many videos of people sitting down too early and they break their propellers almost every time.
Once you are in the air you want to avoid riser-twist as well and that is done by letting up on the throttle a bit and turning the natural direction the machine wants to go. With our machine and the direction the propeller turns, he begins to circle to the right. It also keeps you from doing a grandfather clock and sway from side to side. Riser twist is where your kite stays put and you spin around backwards and twist the lines which is very dangerous and you will crash.
Step 7: Flight
Once you are in the air remember to enjoy it. Many people, like I did, believe that if the motor stops you would plummet to the earth. This is not so. This kite has a 6 feet forward 1 foot down ratio so if the motor is idle you will glide down 1 foot for every 6 feet you go forward. The motor can give speed but it is also intended for lift. If you want to go higher you would squeeze the throttle. If the motor were to stop completely you would have time to land. The key factor is to always have a spot to land in sight. Once in the air you can let go of the wing, breaks, and throttle and the kite will glide and you can steer with shifting your weight side to side. So no need to panic if anything comes out of your hand, they will remain in reach to grab again. Although letting go is a hard concept but important to realize.
Keep in mind that there are laws against you flying with in a certain mileage of airports, also watch out for trees, power lines etc. Most importantly you need to fly within your skill level. The very skilled powered paragliders can do awesome tricks and stunts. Those take years of flying to be ready to attempt.
There are rules to always have a safe flight;
1- never fly in wind over 10 mph.
2- never fly with black clouds in the sky.
3- only fly morning and evening since during the day there are thermals.
4- if the air is bumpy that is a sign of thermals and get down.
5- it is better to be on the ground wishing to be in the air than in the air wishing to be on the ground.
An example of thermals is if you took a bucket and put it into water and pulled up, there is a current of water that rushes under the bucket to replace what you took. The air is the same way and the thermals can lift you up and then shove you down. So be smart and don't fly in thermals. Hangliders use thermals, but powered paragliders don't.
Lastly be careful flying by mountains or cliffs, because the wind is very different near them since it follows the contour of the mountain. This means that the air can be going straight up or straight down and both are extremely dangerous. The wind that goes up, must eventually come down. My husband flies very high above cliffs and mountains and has even felt the lift and sudden drop of his machine and he says it is a helpless feeling.
Step 8: Landing
As you decided it is time to land find an open area and keep in mind that you want to land into the wind and not with the wind. If you land with the wind, the kite can overshoot you and you may run into it. Like shown here...
As you near your destination kill your motor, you do not want the propeller to catch your wing after you land.
As you near the ground, slide out of your seat so you are in a standing position (even though you are strapped in still)
As you get to 5 feet from the ground you want to begin to pull both breaks down so your hands are level with your hips. This is how you stall your wing and it nearly stops you so that you can land.
Step 9: Packing Up
When packing up our kite, we start by doing a daisy chain knot up from the handles to the kite to keep them from getting tangled and we also have a side pocket in our kite bag that the handles go into. You don't want the lines to get tangled up, it is a pain to figure out how to undo them.