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Viktor Prochazka visits PPO - 24th September 2005 - View the entire paragliding news archive

Walkerjet owner visits PPO and Arthur flies his own machine

Friday night was the first in a series of 8 hip hop lessons for me and Emma.

That's right - hip hop! I agreed to go, because, she is very good about me going flying all the time. I couldn't imagine what kind of person would sign up to these lessons and didn't know what to expect. When I got there I found out. There were about 25 people signed up for the class...I was the only guy! I was stood at the front of the class so that everyone could see just how much I sucked.

Anyway onto the flying.

Andre called on Saturday morning to see if I wanted to help out at Sodom Road field. The owner of Walkerjet, Viktor Prochazka, was visiting Powered Paragliding Onatario.

Andre, Viktor and I arrived at Sodom Road field to find that it was too windy to fly. After a couple of hours of tinkering with the motors, Andre decided to show Viktor the touristy bits of Niagara and they both went jet boating.

Arthur, Dan, Natalie and I remained behind waiting for the wind to decrease in strength. Fortunately, we had some toys to keep us busy in the mean time. Arthur had brought his power kite and mountain board. Dan had his min bike and Andre had left the trailer behind, containing power kite and trike (the same trike we use to fly with).

Dan and Arthur both had a go with the kites and trike, but the wind was variable so it was difficult to keep moving. Just as you had some speed the wind would die and the kite would simply crumple and fall out of the sky. This was definitely not the best time to fly. It seems that these easterly conditions are always crummy. I took the opportunity to play on the mini bike reaching speeds of up to 25 miles per hour on a dirt track. Afterwards, Dan told me the speedo did not work and that I should probably double it! It did feel a lot faster than 25mph, but I assumed it was because I was so low to the ground.

Eventually the winds died down. Perfect for me to try an inflation. I set up and got ready to launch. The glider came up nicely; I applied power and was in the air in three steps (in hardly any wind). I banked steeply and climbed fast to test the conditions. I spiraled down to land and decided that conditions were still not smooth enough for Dan to launch. There were some bouncy thermals around.

We decide to try to use Arthur?s machine. He has had it a while now, but never flown it. He picked it up cheap in Poland a few years ago. The assembly was a three man job and there were some areas of concern regarding prop protection, but nothing that would stop me from flying it. If it was my machine I would make a few alterations.

Anyway the biggest difference between this machine and the Walkerjets I am used to flying was the hangpoint. It was at shoulder level instead of hip level. This meant inflation would require a different technique. I spent several inflations working out what needed to be done before going for a launch. When it did take off the addition of power to the launch really helped. I was completely unable to get into the seat, however, and found that the harness constricted by chest cavity a little bit. I did a few circuits and landed. With such a high hangpoint I was able to make a really big flare. The landing was very controlled. I tried to adjust the harness to allow for a seated flying position for Arthur.

Arthur was soon in the air too, after a bit of coaching on the different technique needed with such a high hangpoint. This was the first time he had ever flown his own machine. He still was unable to get in the seat, but he was very pleased to have finally flown it. Arthur landed and agreed that Dan could use his machine. Dan took off with a bit of an oscillation just as Andre and Viktor returned from their jet boating in and site-seeing tour of the Falls. Dan landed perfectly and we packed away Arthur?s machine. It certainly wasn?t a Walkerjet, but it was by no means as bad as some of the machines we have seen turn up at the field. Arthur can be confident that he has a basically sound and flyable bit of kit.

The light was fading fast so we all started to pack up. Natalie supplied some delicious chips (Americans/Canadians read as fries) with ketchup that she had just driven to collect. I didn?t realize how hungry I was until I started to eat. We were packed up just as it became almost impossible to see.

A few firsts:
Arthur flies his own machine.
I fly a PPG with shoulder height hangpoints.
I train my first students without Andre?s watchful eye (now that I am a qualified instructor).

It was great to make the most of the great weather before the Autumnal days really take hold.

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