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Every part of me aches? - Monday 12th September 2005 - View the entire paragliding news archive
At weekends I work at powered paragliding ontario. This weekend was the annual fly in.

This year's fly in was a huge success. We had somewhere between forty and fifty participants throughout the course of the weekend, old faces and new. A great spread was laid on by Dan and Natalie who really made the event much more comfortable for us all, with an endless supply of coffee and treats. What follows is just some of what happened, since, otherwise I would be writing pages and pages?


Andre and I arrived at Dora's at around 5:15pm on Friday. Bruce was there already. We pitched our tents unloaded some stuff and headed out to the field. Conditions were perfect. In fact, the whole weekend had a great forecast. Mete and Matt soon joined us and before long there were about eight of us. We got some beautiful evening flying in. The helium balloon chase never really took off, so to speak and we all pretty much took off and did some smooth evening flying, with the chance to get some foot drags in. The wind really died off, so I made a series off take offs and landings in the tricky conditions. It is always good to brush up on your low wind technique. We packed up as the light was fading and headed out to Dora's. By now the numbers had swollen to around twelve and the beers were flowing. Not long after that, Andre was dishing out the Monkey Butlers. Surprisingly most people had the technique down (secret practicing?). I say most people, because Andre did a pretty good job of tipping the whole lot down his t-shirt. After all this excitement I was ready for my bed. I took an early night and the rest partied on into the night.


Mete woke up nice and early and was keen that everyone else should be up too. He had brought his megaphone and was not shy to use it. We all crawled out of our tents at around 7:15am. Mete headed off for Tim Horton's and met us at the field, with a coffee for everyone. Thanks Mete! At the field, conditions were extremely challenging. The ground was wet with dew. Gliders soon became saturated. Coupled with that was the complete lack of any wind. The early morning mist was laying thick on the ground and everyone was struggling to inflate. Naturally, I was first in the air! Within half an hour there were four or five pilots buzzing around. The grass began to dry out as more pilots turned up. Dan and Natalie set up a makeshift shelter that would soon be home to a fine spread of home baked treats, coffee and water. Everyone was having a lot of fun and the coffee was greatly appreciated by everyone, after the late night on Friday.

Dan also brought his tiny mini-bike, which looks hilarious but is a lot of fun. The suspension combined with the lumps and bumps at Sodom Road field meant that the rider was in for a shaky ride, but you could get a fair bit of speed out of it if you found a smooth run.

That wasn't the only toy we had to play with. Jerry brought his remote controlled powered paraglider. It flew superbly and was really resilient to hard landings. The thing was agile enough to perform wingovers, spiral dives and barrel rolls?.a lot of fun. If it didn't have such a hefty price tag attached I would be tempted to get one for myself.

As the day progressed, more and more pilots turned up. It was time for a little cross country fun. Everyone who was able to launched, and we headed off over the falls. There were ten of us in the air. I was in the RR, a heavy, but powerful machine, we a great climb rate. Andre leant me his altimeter and camcorder, so I made sure to get some nice shots of Nigara Falls. I was much higher than the required 3500 feet, so everyone looked really low to me. After getting some good shots of Niagara Falls and the other pilots below me, I continued to climb on about 70% power reaching 9300. At 9300 feet the engine stopped running, so I decided to go for a glide into landing. I saw Sean pulling some really tight 360s below me, so at eight thousand feet I put it into a spiral dive. This was the first one I had really pulled in tight (with a paramotor), getting the wing aligned with the horizon (an over the nose spiral dive). I pulled out at 3000 feet. What a rush! 5000 feet (in little over a minute?) That is the furthest I have descended in a single spiral dive and I was really fighting those g's. I glided on towards the landing field and arrived at two thousand feet. I decided to burn off some more height, and came in low at around 400 feet. I really wish I knew how to do some proper acro moves. It is on my 'to do list'. I should do an SIV course first I think, but I'm not sure how a paramotor would affect the dynamics. Anyway, back to the fly in, Saturday evening proved even busier at Dora's. Less beer flowed and no Monkey Butlers were in sight. At least not while I was still awake. I turned in for an early night. The previous day and night had taken it out of me and I needed to recuperate.


I was rudely awoken, in the small hours of the morning, by the sound of Mete and Matt arriving back from the Casino. Matt was singing some random country song and there was lots of slamming of car doors. Evidently the partying had continued late into the night.

Despite the late night, Mete was first up. I heard him drive off in his truck. I got up and walked to the field. When I got there I found Mete struggling to start his machine in the cold morning air. He was attempting to hand start it, alone. This is pretty dangerous, in my opinion, so I assisted him and held the frame. We got it turning over a couple of times, but it still wouldn't run. Jerry and his wife were next to arrive. Jerry is an expert on small engines and soon had Mete in the air. The grass was wet and the wind was non-existent, as it had been the previous morning. Mete's launch was very exciting! He almost bust his prop, when he lifted off, as the canopy was turning. His prop whacked the weeds sending up a nice little spray of morning dew. He was lucky to get away with that one. Gerry was a little less fortunate. After a couple of aborted take offs, his wing was looking more like a sponge. We moved his gear further up the field to give him more space. He made a great inflation and was really commiting to the run. His wet wing was not lifting at this point and he continued running?.straight into the only obstacle for miles around! The air strip is lined by a series of equally spaced yellow metal cones. Jerry managed to hit one. This cost him some speed and put him skidding on his cage throught the rough grass. His prop was still good at this point. He skidded like this for about 20 feet, almost making it back onto his feet, but not before that familiar THWACK sound of a broken prop cut the air. That was it for Jerry's take off. He was fine, so we walked back his equipment. He fitted a new prop and was good to go in no time.

Next in the air was Sean. He got up on the second attempt and disappeared into the distance. Mete was still flying at this point and decided to buzz Dora's restaurant and wake up all the guys. From where we were, he seemed pretty low. The wing was just poking up above tree level. It seemed to do the trick anyway, because half an hour later the field was full of pilots.

Ike and his trike were ready to go in the air by mid morning, but Ike wanted Andre to give it a test flight before going himself. Andre asked if it was all rigged and ready to go.

'Are all the nuts tight Ike?'

'Yes Andre.'

Andre launched without a problem, being careful to hold the A's out wide (Ike's frame pinches under tension). He had a two minute flight and set it back down, whereby the wheels fell off! As you can imagine Andre was not impressed. Not only were nuts and bolts not tight, one was completely missing! We set about tightening everything up, but

Ike was still not happy to fly and asked me to test it out. I was only too happy to help. I messed up the first inflation. I was too slow on the brake input. The second one was fine. The first thing that I noticed was that the way the hang points are set up, the harness really constricts your chest, making breathing laboured. This freaked me out a little at first, because it felt so different to the Walker jets. I flew around for a couple of minutes. The wing and machine were working perfectly. Ike was not convinced and put off flying until later.

Around midday I was called upon to replac all Sean's A and B lines on his canopy. Sean has been flying for about a year now and had been trying out some spiral dives. He thought it might be a good idea to change his lines, since he already had a complete set of As and Bs. He very generously bought me for lunch, afterwards. Eggs, bacon, potatoes, sausages and toast. It really hit the spot and set me up for the afternoon, thanks Sean.

Back at the field I went for a thermal flight with Andre. He wind was picking up, but there was some useable thermic activity. Once at about 2000 feet I wasn't penetrating much so I spiraled down and we sat it out waiting for the wind to drop.

For the next three hours Andre was tied up doing tandem flights. Helena (from Poland) was first up. She had turned up for a flight before and waited around 4 hours. Unfortunately, she had gone home disappointed as the conditions were just not safe for a flight. This time she was not disappointed and she was in the air for what seemed like ages. She flew most of the flight, taking control of the brake lines.

After Helena, were a series of Andre's close friends, who had turned up late in the afternoon. Amongst them was Suzanne, Chris's girlfriend. She had already flown tandem in Annecy, but without an engine. This was to be her first tandem motorised flight.

By late afternoon the number of people at the field was dwindling. There were quite a few interested bystanders who had not seen the sport before and the whole atmosphere was very friendly.

It was soon getting dark. I was looking forward to the comforts of my bed and a good shower. Three days without a shower was beginning to show. The weekend had been a resounding success. Everyone packed up and went home their separate ways?.

Very tired, but very happy

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