blackhawk paramotor training

My Paramotor career comes to a stand still (video)

 

No more Powered paragliding for this fella. Check out the video below and then have a read as to why.

I have blown a hole in the piston of my Paramotor. After a total of about 3 hours flying, at about 100 meters up, the engine quit, I came down in an emergency landing along the Guatemalan coast with waves crashing 5 meters to my left, and a river 5 meters to my right.

blackhawk paramotor engine reliability

blackhawk paramotor training

Final check before going up and coming down with a giant hole in the paramotor

Fortunately I handled the engine out landing like a boss and only suffered the indignity and strain of a 2 kilometer walk along a mushy sandy beach back to the cars. It could have been a lot worse.

While in the air I had a few options, one was to try and turn around, get closer to the launch area and then turn into the wind a bit closer to home. The other was to just keep heading straight and try and land between two water masses just dying to drag me under, tangled between hungry lines.

I chose the latter because landing with the wind means I would be landing at around 40 kilometers an hour, which means I would have no chance of running it out, which means I would likely roll with 30 kilograms on my back and break a number of bones, if not worse. Landing into the wind means taking that speed down to a few kilometers an hour, or even a dead stop.

It works like this:

Flying with the wind

wing speed of 25km per hour + wind speed of 15km per hour = 40 km per hour

Flying into the wind

wing speed of 25km per hour – wind speed of 15 km per hour = 10km per hour

The second option being an easy trot

So I am happy I managed a perfect emergency landing, but not so happy the motor blew in the first place. There is a hole in the piston, caused by God knows what, likely overheating for some reason or other. It is probably going to cost me around $100 to repair, but worse than that, it is probably going to cost me a couple weeks of practicing time.

So I thought, I can practice my kiting! I can learn to control the wing better so that I don’t get dragged and almost choked to death again. So that when it comes time to get up into the air I can have more faith in my feet actually leaving the ground.

The thing is that the flying itself is pretty easy, of course you get better and better, but staying up there just requires learning to pull the breaks and weight shifting to turn. Landing as well is getting a lot easier as I get more confident in flaring (pulling hard on the breaks a few feet from the ground to stop forward and downward motion, the faster you are going when you do this the better).

Launching, now that is the hard part, if you don’t get that wing overhead in a high wind it will pick you up like a rag doll and drag you, which will hurt or do damage, the extent of which depends on the surface you are on.

So kiting I thought, I can get really good at it. But maybe not.

I have had some problems with the Velocity Elektra wing from Blackhawk Paramotors, and I am waiting to hear back from them to see whether they are going to help sort it out or not. There is loose stitching through out the wing and I am not sure what needs to be done about this.

velocity elektra wing blackhawk problem

I really liked the way the Blackhawk wing flies, but now am not sure about the quality, and of course it is my life at risk here. So the Velocity Elektra is packed away until I can get some sort of confirmation or denial from Blackhawk Paramotors as to what they are going to do about it.

(UPDATE: I sent the photos to a couple of wing repair shops in the states, and they have told me that although it may look a bit messy, to them the wing looks perfectly safe, and I can fly with it without worrying, which I am exceptionally happy about and have been kiting regularly since finding out.)

Which means for now my Powered paragliding career has come to a stand still. I kind of feel at a loss, I am not sure what to do with myself as the paramotoring has been such a big part of our lives for the last few months. I suppose I have time to put some videos together, and Sarah and I can go do more exploring, maybe head out to Lake Atitlan to see what all the fuss is about.

But I just can’t shake this feeling that something is missing.

I think it is fair to say that paramotoring, that flying, is now an inseparable part of my life.

I’ll keep you all updated, and look forward to some cool videos now that I have all this time on my hands.

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21 Comments
  • Brendan
    Posted at 15:02h, 03 April Reply

    *brakes πŸ˜‰

  • Brendan
    Posted at 15:59h, 03 April Reply

    Well…..now I’m confused….you drank your own urine and it’s STILL not fixed? What are we even doing here anymore??

    Nice work, I see you have also now experienced the suckiness of walking and looking up to see someone else flying.

    Hard to tell from the vids, but when you weight shift, when you sling your leg over the other one, also get your butt cheek off the seat to give you some effective weight shift. Your straps will hold you in. πŸ˜‰

    Oooh…maybe you can get your instructor to teach you some ridge soaring. A PPG pilot crashed into a cliff where I fly the other day because he was ‘scratching’in light lift and a wing tip caught in a bush. Broke both knees, was hanging from a cliff and had to be rescued on the news. News report said he’d been “Jumping”for only 6 months. Pfffftt….’jumping’!

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 10:36h, 04 April Reply

      Yeah I am still working on the weiight shifting, at least I was, now I am grounded for God knows how long. There is just something wrong with walking 2 kilometers when you have a flying machine…

  • Brendan
    Posted at 16:07h, 03 April Reply
  • Kim
    Posted at 10:33h, 04 April Reply

    HEY!!! I’m glad you are okay and quite a champ for handling that emergency landing. I suppose these things are going to happen and it’s good you’ve got the first one out of the way and that you handled it with ease. I’m glad you are safe and hope you get back into the air soon.
    Kim recently posted…Reporting from the other side of our first presentation (WE SURVIVED!). Only 64 more to go.My Profile

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 10:37h, 04 April Reply

      Thanks Kim, better to learn my lessons now in a not too serious way. I think otherwise I would be getting cocky and the next engine out could have been a mile out to sea!

  • Brian
    Posted at 17:08h, 04 April Reply

    What’s wrong with the stitching. I’ve got an Elektra and have quite a few hours on it with no issues.

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 17:18h, 04 April Reply

      Hey Brian, check out my forum post for pics and opinions.
      http://www.paramotorclub.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=9613
      But basically, there is loose stitching all over the wing. I really hope I am just being paranoid as I love the way the wing flies (although my only comparison was a training wing), and sending it back would cost a bomb

      • Brian
        Posted at 17:34h, 04 April Reply

        Those are the thread ends trimmed a little long, not loose stitching. I the stitching is coming loose, the zigzag will start to open up and you will get space between the lines. Thats not the case here. By the way, the forums aren’t the best place to get solid answers. If you want to know. Ask a professional. Send a photo to Michelle Danielle at paramotorcity.com. She replaces lines for people on a daily basis. Contact her for an unbiased opinion.

  • Brian
    Posted at 17:11h, 04 April Reply

    Motor has a hole from predetonation. You must be running lean. What color is the tip of your spark plug?

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 17:21h, 04 April Reply

      light grey after the engine blew, looked like it had burned out, but yeah after a lot of help from the guys on the forum mentioned above I am thinking it overheated through being too lean and too much fuel to air with the carb setting (or the other way around, I am by no means an expert)

      Also would love to hear some opinions and views on your elektra as I don’t know anyone else who actually owns one outside of the manufacturer. And what engine do you have?

      • Brian
        Posted at 17:42h, 04 April Reply

        should be a medium coffee color. It was running very lean which is what popped the motor.

        things that could have caused it:
        improper carb adjustment, loose headbolts causing an air leak or restricted fuel either in the carb or fuel lines.

        Looking at the photo it looks like you had oil getting passed the seal which means air was also getting in. I’m guessing your headbolts were loose. You need to torque them a few times when the motor is new and things expand.

        • booth_1@hotmail.com
          Posted at 17:50h, 04 April Reply

          I’ll have to speak to my instructor/mechanic about that. He broke the engine in for me and I would think that that should be something he would be aware of right? Hopefully the second time around (he is replacing the piston for me) we can get it right, because it is so disappointing to be grounded so soon.

          Thanks for the link to paramotorcity, I will hit them up and see what they think. Like I said before, I really hope I am wrong about the wing and if I am would be more than happy to eat a big serve of humble pie for the heartache it’ll save.

          Thanks for your advice Brian. So where do you fly and what keeps you up in the air? πŸ™‚

  • Brian
    Posted at 18:00h, 04 April Reply

    With a new motor, I always take a 5 minute flight, run it easy (no long, full throttle climbs) land and check my plug.

    I’m in San Francisco, I fly a BlackHawk 125 and Elektra currently. Full disclosure, I used to work for BlackHawk years ago. I still believe in the product and fly it myself but its tough to make a living in the paramotor industry πŸ˜‰

    Feel free to contact me if you have questions. I’m always glad to help a new pilot. πŸ™‚

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 18:12h, 04 April Reply

      I really appreciate that mate, and I would love to have more faith in my gear, wing and all, it can be difficult though when you know so little about what is what and information is not really forthcoming.

      I am always open to advice and experience wherever it comes from and truly appreciate yours mate. I am hoping to keep flying for a long time, I just have to get over these initial hurdles, so thanks again πŸ™‚

  • Sarah Somewhere
    Posted at 21:29h, 04 April Reply

    Man, I suck at acting, but I am awesome at rescue missions!!!!!!
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted…Tending my gardenMy Profile

  • geo
    Posted at 17:35h, 05 January Reply

    Sir you were running lean for some reason. or the timing on the engine was to high. you had pre ignition…………….. on a two cycle is it a big problem best to run the two cycle engine on the rich side. The plug should be on the light brown side . This happens under load. and this engine is under load all the time. Look into this,

  • geo
    Posted at 17:36h, 05 January Reply

    check the spark plug also. and run a colder plug.

  • rodrigo de la cruz
    Posted at 16:17h, 19 July Reply

    Hi dear, my name is Rodrigo and I fron Brazil,
    I have little experience with two stroke engines, and that kind of hole in the middle of the piston indicates that your spark plug is very strong and has a high temperature in the spark, so it caused a meltdown right in the center of the piston head, try to use one spark plug weaker or something recommended by the manufacturer!
    I hope that with this tip I can help you!
    Take care and Good flights my friend!

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 01:52h, 20 July Reply

      Hi thanks Rodrigo. I got it sorted some time ago but the more information the better! πŸ™‚ I actually sold the motor but in the future I will keep it in mind if I get another one. Gracias

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