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Terry Luke's story - 22nd September 2005 - View the entire paragliding news archive
A story of woe, by Terry Luke:

'I like to consider myself an inventor, mostly frustrated, but still an inventor. Not long ago I decided to reinvent the PPG harness fromthe ground up. I've always hated the confinement of all the straps and buckles, and I knew there had to be a better way. I tested all kinds of hooks, clevis', and zipper arrangements, but none were really working for me. This is the frustrating part for inventors..It can be darn depressing looking at a pile failed prototypes day after day. Out of the blue one day, I came up with a new idea. I simply lined the whole inside of the harness with Velcro; in turn, I sewed huge swatches of Velcro onto the back and butt sections of my Flymike suit. 'Why didn't I think of this before'..I'm sure you know the feeling.

The launch was real easy with no straps; I think yelped with joy as ran out the forward launch.. with no leg straps to slow me down, I ran like deer. Getting into the seat was a lot trickier then I'd imagined..I quickly realized a hang test to check out the harness idea would've been a good idea. I finally wiggled, yanked, and pulled myself into the seat; it was pretty scary to think that the comfort bars and a little back Velcro were the only things that kept me from slipping out of the harness. However once in the seat, the huge advantage of Velcro in-lieu straps and buckles was clear. The freedom of movement made the PPG feel brand new again..it's hard to explain the feeling, it was awesome. I knew I had a winner on my hands. As I flew I even tried to think up clever product names for the seat and suit combo; names like 'stick n fly', 'stick n rip', 'gone strapless'...there were more names too, but none were very memorable. I was just enjoying the moment I guess. Foolishly I had launched with a partly filled fuel tank; this meant that the flight was going to end far too soon. I circled high above my field, allowing my engine to suck the last drop of fuel from the tank. The engine finally coughed and quit; the slow float down to meadow from 3000' was like a great desert after a steak dinner. I had plenty of time to lazily spiral and play, all the while enjoying the new-found feeling of freedom in light.

I noticed a few spectators had arrived at the field; this was usually the case due my field being close to a fairly busy road. Stopper's-by enjoy watching the PPG's, and I often like to give them a low flyby or two. Not today, all they were going to see was a power off landing right next to my truck. As I lined up on final, I had my first indication of a problem; normally at about tree-top level, I like to begin working my butt out of the rear of the harness, and move sightly forward in the seat. This sets me up to quickly push out of the harness just before my feet touch the ground. It a technique that works good, and looks cool too. Nobody in a ppg looks too cool landing, while dangling like a wwll paratrooper below his chute.. Anyway I could not move my butt forward like I was used to; in fact I could not move at all. The weight and pressure had fused the Velco beyond belief; I was 100% immobilized from my neck all the way down to my upper legs. My brain flooded with worthless options as the ground began to rush beneath my shoes.

The spectators probably never knew that I was having a problem..the more experienced on-lookers likely were expecting me to cleverly pop out of my harness at the last split second, and show them a 3 step landing. As I continued to struggle with the Velcro, I forgot to flare until my shoes were brushing the grass; then I was on the ground. I didn't face plant, but the entire PPG somehow began to roll like a wobbly wheel, with me still velcro'd in the seat. Around and around I went; as I rolled I'd get glimpse of the wing winding up behind me, and then a glimpse of my truck...then a face or two of the gawking on lookers. Finally the motor stopped rolling and simply plopped over on it's cage; I found I was completely unhurt, but in a full turtle. Gradually some of the braver spectators came closer, probably expecting to see a lot of blood and some broken bones. About then I could see a camera flash out of the corner of my eye..oh great! I've discovered there is no turtle that can compare to a Velcro turtle..After some flapping and cursing, a couple of guys got the PPG into an up-right position; try as they might they could not yank me out of the seat. The big hunks of Velcro held me tight to the seat, as if they had somehow become fused into one piece. By this time the few spectators, had grown into small giggling mob. Cameras were flashing, and several stupid extraction ideas were glibly discussed.

I knew had to end this before the local FD showed up..geez they would likely pose for pictures before cutting me out of the harness..It was time to end this mess. I simply unzipped the Flymike and climbed out of the suit; first one arm then the other..now for my legs. It was a very warm outside when I had slipped into the Flymike, and skivvies semed like the flying undergarment of choice; you know, the old swiss cheese skivvies I should'a tossed out 6 mos ago..

That's when I woke up..worst PPG dream I ever had.

Terry Luke!'

Thanks for allowing me to post this to my site Terry! It had me laughing at the thought of coming into land and realising I was velcroed fast to the seat.

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

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