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September 21st 04 - September 21st 04 - View the entire paragliding news archive
Saturday's forecast had been completely wrong in terms of wind strength. The morning had been too windy to fly, but by 4pm the wind strength was down to 7 km/h. Sunday was looking good. Andre and I headed out for the Sodom Road field and messages were left for anyone that was interested. We were at the field by 11:30am to find Dennis had already had the same idea. The wind was a bit strong at this point in the day and Dennis decided to wait until conditions dropped off a bit. Andre and I got all the kit out and fueled up. Andre was all set to launch. We intended to get a flight over the Falls before training kicked off when everyone else arrived. With the wind coming from a northerly direction this was a good opportunity for me to finally make the flight over Niagara Falls. Andre's glider came up well enough and everything seemed ok, a large correction needed on the brake lines to maintain direction. He applied power and was off....briefly. His wing lurched violently to the left swinging him around to meet the floor, with the now familiar 'thwack' of a busted prop! With the weight of the tandem unit behind him this looked like a nasty 'landing', but Andre was fine, little confused though. What the hell was that? Fortunately I was ready with an instant replay to capture the incident. I had been wearing the helmet mounted camera that I fly with, to film the flight over the Falls. Reviewing the tape we could see no obvious collapse of the wing. After a bit of investigation it turned out that one of the tiny karabiners that connect the speed system to the harness (which was disconnected) was open and had snagged a line rerouting it and shortening its length by about six inches. It just goes to show there are always new ways to screw up! Pre-flight checks.....It is easy to become complacent when flying regularly. Had it been anyone less experienced it is doubtful they would have taken off in the first place. See video here. A few minutes later and replacement prop blades had been fitted and we were all set to go again. Andre launched first. This time there were no problems. I followed and we headed off for the Falls. Climbing as quickly as possible to get to the required 3500 ft I saw Andre turning back. He radioed me to say that the new blades were not well balanced and that the paramotor was shaking enough to make him turn back. I continued alone. Progress was painfully slow into the headwind and I soon realized if I was going to make it, it would be in an hour or so! I could see the Falls but I wasn't really over them. I turned back and turned the engine off to make a quiet decent. I quickly lost my height and was back on the ground to start training. Csaba (aka Csebo, Cabo etc!!), Dennis, Bob and Matt turned up with Imad making frequent calls updating us on his slow progress in traffic (never actually arriving). Bob spent the whole day working really hard on his inflation technique. This was pure hard work as he just continued to refine his technique. By the end of the afternoon he was ready to for his first launch. Andre talked him through it and he was ready to go. Bob it was a great first effort! He ran with determination and was soon airborne. There was no sign off 'sitting down' on take off which is fairly common for beginners. He was loving it exploring past the boundaries of the field at considerable height until it was time to land. The landing was even better! This is someone who learns fast. Dennis made two flights throughout the course of the day. They were both good take offs and landings. Another two flights to add to the log book. Matt launched several times throughout the day and was also looking very controlled and skillful. Towards 6pm the wind began to subside. The trip over the Falls was back on. Csaba, Matt and I were all up for it. We refueled and got ready. Matt was airborn first, then me, then Csaba. Since they did not have altimeters they were to follow me and make sure they were higher. Halfway there I saw Matt turning back to the field. Csaba and I carried on. I forgot that Csaba did not have a flight suit and thick gloves (just thin 'dollar store' gloves). I climbed to 5000ft just to get a good view. It was a bit 'nippy'. Csaba was staying even higher. When we landed he was freezing his tits off! Eventually the cold was too much and he too turned back. I made it to the Falls...SPECTACULAR!!!! I saw the helicopter tours directly below me, and the whole scene from a totally new perspective. It was superb. I too was a tad on the chilly side. I headed back at altitude for another silent, engineless descent. On landing I found out that Matt had only returned because he had accidentally turned his engine off whilst doing his jacket up! He was calm enough just to turn around and glide back to the field to land. Time to pack up. We headed over to Dora's, just the remaining four of us. Wings, pizza and beer for all. What a great way to spend a Sunday. Csaba paid for the food too. Thanks mate (I promise to spell your name right from now on) .....Oh yeah one other thing I've been meaning to write since 'The fly in (Aug 22)'....... Mete used to be a make up artist!!!! Ha ha ha ha. More on that next time. Safe flying.

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The content of this site is Mark Andrews 2005-12, mandrews1973@gmail.com

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