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

Powered Paragliding: Analyzing the Reverse Launch

June 29, 2006, Chapter 3, 4 | See also Crosswind Launches

Crosswind launch  Nailing Every Landing  Analyzing the Forward Launch  Analyzing the Reverse Launch  The Bump Scale

When Tim snapped this series of pictures it went crying for a quick treatment of reverse inflations, where you start by facing the wing. Most pilots prefer these since you can see exactly what's going on. But they present their own difficulties.

The first step is knowing when it's appropriate to do a reverse.

Basically, if you can stand there and kite your wing, it's reversible. Otherwise, it's probably better to do a forward. It's possible to pull it off in very light winds but walking backwards leaves you vulnerable to tripping and falling. Plus, it's hard to generate much speed walking backwards. I've seen pilots struggle for a half hour trying to coax their limp wings upwards in vain during light winds.

Assuming you have at least 6 mph wind, here are some tips that can help. Special high-wind techniques come into play as the wind speed gets over about 12 mph, especially if you're on a smooth surface.

  1. A clean layout is important. While it's possible to bring a wing up from the stuff sack, it's a lot harder. Lay it out like you would for a forward inflation if the wind is light. Layout becomes less important with increasing wind.

  2. The turn-around is critical. You must turn around quickly then move forward immediately lest the wing fall back. Make sure the wing has forward momentum before turning around. In a lighter wind, if it stops or starts moving back down, drop it and try again.

  3. Don't pull the A's much at all during the initial inflation. You need to get the wing to billow and actually holding the A's a brakes together can aid in the process but that's inconvenient. Then once the wing is inflated you can give just enough A pull to help it up.

  4. Make sure the inflation effort is exactly into the wind as much as possible.

  5. Anticipate the direction your wing is going to go and counter that by where you stand. The side of the wing most directly into the wind will want to come up first. Move towards that side before pulling it up.

  6. If the wing is accelerating quickly upwards, be ready to damp it with brakes. Do not turn around unless you can comfortably do so while braking. Once dampened, let off the brakes.

  7. Different wings require variances in techniques, sometimes dramatically.

There is a lot more to it, of course, and a good instructor can save enormous effort and/or equipment damage. Watching someone is revealing. Even professional athletes pay a coach to watch them and offer suggestions.

Hopefully these quick tips can help. Enjoy and be careful!

1) The first part is what's tricky.

2) After that, it's just like a forward launch. This sequence was shot at Galesburg airport. Permission was obtained by Moline Approach control who has jurisdiction and the airport management to bring the motorhome onto the tarmac.

Photos by Tim Kaiser, compositing by Jeff Goin

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