Educational by Chapter of the Powered Paragliding Bible

I: First Flight

01 Training Process

02 Gearing Up

03 Handling the Wing

04 Prep For 1st Flight

05 The Flight

06 Flying With Wheels 

II: Spreading Wings

07 Weather Basics

08 The Law

09 Airspace   

10 Flying Anywhere

11 Controlled Airports

12 Setup & Mx

13 Flying Cross Country

14 Flying With Others

III: Mastery

15 Adv Ground Handling

16 Precision Flying

17 Challenging Sites

18 Advanced Maneuvers

19 Risk Management

20 Competition

21 Free Flight Transition

IV: Theory

22 Aerodynamics

23 Motor & Propeller

24 Weather & Wind

25 Roots: Our History

V: Choosing Gear

26 The Wing

27 The Motor Unit

28 Accessories

29 Home Building

VI: Getting the Most

30 Other Uses

31 Traveling With Gear

32 Photography

--- Not in book ---

33 Organizing Fly-Ins

34 Places To Fly

35 Preserving the Sport

36 Tandem

Chapter 5: The Flight

Nailing Every Touchdown

Jan 15, 2007 | Section I

Crosswind launch  Analyzing the Forward Launch  Analyzing the Reverse Launch  The Bump Scale

After posting a spot landing picture I got a question about sometimes running out of brakes on landing and touching down firmly.

That's common, especially in the beginning, but there are techniques to improve your odds.

Big caveat: done aggressively or with bad timing you can break a leg employing this technique! Build slowly. Practice up high as directed before risking your bones down low.

Before Breaking Legs, Try This

While at least 300 feet above ground level (AGL) get into a power-off glide while holding brakes at about position 2 (about 25%). Release them smoothly and watch what happens. You dive a bit then shallow out. Do this a few times down lower where you can see the effect but without risking touchdown. When using it for landing, you'll be using the natural round out after that initial dive.

Don't exaggerate it yet by starting with more brakes and don't just let up immediately on the brakes. Take about one second to go hands up. Letting them up quickly makes the wing surge forward -- momentarily making it more susceptible to a frontal collapse.

Now for the Landing

Once you've mastered this in practice all you're doing is planning it so as to reach the ground just as you naturally start to level off from the dive. Then come in with enough brake to swing your body forward which increases the wing's angle of attack. Then, as you slide in just above the ground, feed in brake as it slows down.

Here's the sequence from figure 1 at right using the numbered paramotor guys.

1. Start by gliding with brakes 2 (about 25%).

2. At 20 to 40 feet above the ground ease off the brakes. It should take about 1 second to go from brakes 2 to none.

3. You'll dive slightly, building a bit of speed (energy).

4. Apply just a bit of brakes to get you swinging forward. Done properly you'll arrest you descent possibly completely, leaving you skimming just above the ground.

5. Come in with final brakes as necessary to finesse the touchdown.

6. Viola! If all goes well you'll come sliding in for a smooth, cool-looking arrival with style.

In figure 2 you can see that I'm adding more brake to hold myself off the ground until I get to the target for a spot landing.

If you're landing power off this technique is very helpful because it improves your chances of making a good landing, especially in turbulence. Just make sure to build up to it slowly because if you time it wrong you'll land harder.

Generally speaking, if it's turbulent, landing with power is preferable since you can use thrust to arrest sudden sink. Of course that comes at higher risk of falling and breaking gear. But if you're reasonably attune to managing turbulence, consider landing power on.

Be careful and good luck!

Figure 1. Diagram showing brake positions. Text at left gives details.

Figure 2. An actual landing using the technique. You can see increasing brake as I use up the energy. Photo by Tim Kaiser.

© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!