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PPG Trike - 7th May 2005 - View the entire paragliding news archive
The weather was looking good after an overcast start to the day, a light breeze ? warm and sunny. Andre and I arrived at the field just before 2pm. After testing the trike out during the week, Andre was confident that this would be a great progression step for students; he was keen to get our first triking student airborne. The trike allows you to make many launches without getting tired. Barney would have the honor of being the first PPO trike student through the school. He worked on his inflation and kiting skills while Andre set up the trike.

Without the wing the trike is still a whole lot of fun. Andre hopped in and was soon pootling about the field in his own blow cart . My turn next - I was soon whizzing about the field (much faster than Andre who is very easily scared!). The bumps in the field and lack of any brakes mean that how fast you go depends on how brave/reckless you are feeling. I'm sure you could get to some pretty impressive speeds if you were to run it on a smoother surface. Andre decided it was time for me to get the trike in the air so we set it all up and I got ready to launch.

Just as I was getting ready to go a van load of kids turned up to watch; Great! Just what I need?an audience on my first ever trike launch. I messed up the first one as I forgot to lift the A risers at the crucial moment. The wing came up slightly crooked, then caught the prop wash, twisted and dumped back down. No problem I unclipped, laid the wing out again and had another go. This time I was on the A's and it came up nice and smooth. I taxied for a while then applied full throttle and I was off! A few low turns and a bit of showing off for the crowd as well as some low passes gave me my first experience of flying the trike, very little effort. I didn't even break into a sweat.

Barney continued to work on his kiting skills in the reasonably gusty winds that we were now experiencing and Chris showed up at the field. He was keen to see the 'new toy' and was up for a flight later (the wind was picking up and it was getting a little bumpy). Next up Barney strapped in and was soon whizzing up and down the field (minus the wing). I think he likes speed. He was going much faster than Andre and I had dared. The wind was still not ideal for a trike launch and would have been tricky for anyone to launch unassisted, so we waited for the wind to die down a bit before letting Chris have a go. Chris Miller, for those of you that don't know, is the guy who bought a paramotor from ebay and taught himself to fly before hooking up with Andre and getting some of his bad habits ironed out.

While we waited for the wind to die down it seemed a perfect opportunity to hand tow Barney. This just gives people a chance to get their feet off the ground and practice steering in flight before a real launch. I was really struggling to get Barney off the ground, something that didn't go unnoticed by Andre. He likes to throw in the occasional motivating comment every now and then. Just for fun, I clipped in and Barney gave me a tow. He managed to get me about 20 feet in the air. Good job, maybe we need a bigger rope?

After all this messing about the wind seemed to have dropped off slightly, so it was time to send Chris up to test air for Barney . The air was still bumpy, but you just can't feel it so much in the trike. We hooked everything up and Chris strapped in. We gave Chris some assistance as a 'dry run' for assisting Barney's launch later on. After a few attempts we had a synchronized technique that worked well. Chris launched and was buzzing around the field. He was flying low, with little brake pressure; a bad combination in bumpy conditions. His wing suffered an 80% collapse. It recovered very quickly, but there was simply not enough height for the wing to start gliding again and Chris experienced rather harsh landing. This is the first time I have seen a collapse this big so near to the ground. The wing recovered extremely quickly. If Chris had been 20 ft higher he would have continued flying. Chris was fine; the trike was not. The replacement axle that Andre had fitted (soft steel and extra wide) bent on impact, so a little 'back yard' engineering was needed to get it back into shape. This involved Chris jumping on the axle while Andre held it over a ditch?.crude but effective.

The trike was back in action and, despite the exciting show, Barney was still keen to fly. This time we waited until the air had smoothed out a lot more. The overcast morning meant that the thermic part of the day had been shifted a couple of hours. Later thermic activity coupled with the inability to feel all the bumps when flying the trike, had lead to Chris flying with too little brake pressure. All this combined with Chris's low height culminated in the bent trike axle. You have to watch the spring thermals as they are strongest this time of the year.

When were happy that the thermic activity had smoothed right out it was time to get Barney in the air. He was up pretty much straight away and soon enjoying his new found ability to fly. He made a few high circuits above the field. Under instruction from Andre he tried turning off the engine and restarting it. He then performed some slow left and right hand turns before Andre let him do his own thing for a while. When he was ready to come down he made a series of landing approaches under power. Each time he came around he made lower and lower passes, until eventually he did a touch and go. When he was happy with everything he made his final approach and set it down really smoothly. Landing the trike under power is far easier than landing on your feet. The extra speed means that the landing flare is not as crucial. Barney's first ever landing was perfect !

Not wishing to push his luck, Barney decided to soak up the experience and leave his next flight to another day. He made great progress. Powered Paragliding Ontario's first ever trike student. Content to have flown Barney went home (hey that rhymes).

Chris, Andre and I jumped into our machines for an evening flight over Niagara. The air was now almost still and the sunset was spectacular. We headed out from the field towards Niagara Falls, before turning right to follow the river. We flew low over golf courses, skipping over open farmland. We flew between radio masts around a water tower and back down low over grassy fields. Flying with friends, this way, is a great experience. The sense of complete freedom is almost indescribable. The view you get from a powered paraglider is superb. You can fly low and slow and take in the view wherever you go. On our way back to the field it became obvious that a guy was trying to follow us in his car. While we were flying in a straight line, back to the field, he was having to make all sorts of detours to try to keep us in sight.

We landed and started to pack up just as the car pulled up. The driver had been following us pretty well until we flew over the QEW, but he realized we must be heading for the Sodom Road airfield so he drove on by for a chat and to find out more about how to get involved in the sport. He had already looked into what was needed to fly a Cessna, but after seeing the trike up close I think he might be tempted by to give powered paragliding (paramotoring) a try. After all, where else can you get in the air on day one!

Packed up and ready to go, we headed off to Dora's for a few beers and a bit of video footage review. Another great day of flying fun had by all.

It's hard work, but someone has to do it!

Mark Andrews

Summary of video links in this article:
Andre launching Trike , Barney in the Trike , Hand towing Barney , Chris's 80% collapse , Fixing the axle, Barney gets in the air , Andre pootling in the Trike

If you are interested and would like to find out more contact

Andre Zeman at:

(905) 988 5013 Fax: (905) 988 9884
$30.00 off here
(E-mail Andre Zeman )

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The content of this site is Mark Andrews 2005-12,

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