2012-06-10 Learning To Fly Paramotor is Risky, even WITH good
instruction. By Jeff Goin
See also "Free Training In 50
States: Kurt Fister"
It's well established that skimping on training is a bad trade,
especially the "Free
Training" offers. Some may succeed but many more fail afterwards due
to frustration, equipment damage or injury. But any training involves
extra risk as evidenced by the
fatal accident data. Several accidents bear this out including one
just happened in Canada (a
better report) although we don't know much yet. The accident
presumably happened just before medical help was called at 0930 and
sunrise is 0444AM. He was apparently in radio contact with his
instructor who was on the ground.
1. The number one cause of calamity is loss of control, where
the student flies a perfectly good craft into an unforgiving something.
A fundamental reason for this may be the nature of our craft: if you
pull right brake, your body initially moves a bit left since the roll
axis is above your head. An experienced pilot may not even realize it,
and the effect is fleeting, but for new pilots, it's terribly confusing.
It's why oscillations on takeoff or landing are such common causes of
crashes for newer pilots even after they've left training. The effect is
exaggerated on more responsive wings. This is why I strongly suggest
that new students and instructors choose very benign handling wings!
One easy way to mitigate this risk New entrants should ask for
"school" wings--models that are very benign handling. An even better way
to mitigate it is intense ground handling where the student masters wing
handling before leaving the ground. This is a good place for stronger
wind practice where the pilot can face forward and get to the point
where he controls the wing accurately. In a cart this can be done on the
ground before lifting off. But all this takes time which is why trying
to cram training into too little time (3 days is woefully inadequate) is
a bad idea.
Newbies *CAN* learn these things on their own if they have the
discipline but history has shown that, once a student leaves the
instructor, they're far more likely to just go flying.
2. Towing. This seems so benign but, in reality, it can
go fatally bad in seconds. Any tow more than about 5 feet high carries a
lot of risk. The Turn Around pulley is particularly dangerous since the
pilot is moving away from the tow operator, the line is getting shorter
and, in an emergency, it's possible that the instructor may cut the line
but it then fouls in the pulley.
3. Getting into the seat. Any procedure that requires the student to
reach down with his hands to get into the seat leaves open the
possibility that he will hold the brakes while doing so and stall or
spin the wing. On these machines it's imperative that the student
rehearse the action even in the face of distraction. Early flights are
nothing but fire hose blasts of distraction speckled with fleeting
moments of lucid reaction. If the action is not ingrained, count on
doing it wrong.
In many cases these things come from not listening to the instructor
who is likely saying "reduce brakes" on the radio. So one thing to
rehears is reacting to radio commands. Hopefully your instructor is
USPPA tandem rated and can provide you with an initial flight
experience. Doing free flight first helps enormously as long as you
learn appropriate respect for what the motor adds.
Don't skimp, listen intently, rehearse until you're blue in the brain
and live to come fly with me sometime.