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.
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.
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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