Mieussy, France became known as the birthplace of paragliding when in June 1978 three friends Jean-Claude Bétemps, André Bohn and Gérard Bosson were inspired by an article on ‘slope soaring’ in the Parachute Manual magazine. They calculated that on a suitable slope, a square parachute could be inflated by running down a slope; Bétemps launched from Pointe du Pertuiset, Mieussy, and flew 100 m. Andre Bohn followed him and glided down to the football pitch in the valley 1000 metres below. ‘Parapente’ was born (pente being French for slope).
This is Alan in simulator I have trained him in 2009. Back then he had too much on the go and couldn’t get but he just contacted me recently wanting full set of gear. So here he is testing new paramotor.
Then off to the field to see if Alan forgot the ground handling.
As it turned out it only took five minutes to get on the refreshed on reverse ground handling And in 10 minutes he was kiting like a pro
Meawhile Scott was flying his ass off. He was no longer struggling with the inflations – taking off at every first attempt. He quickly managed seven more flights so he has now 15 in his logbook. He is taking off and landing on his own – it’s not absolutely perfect yet but that’ll come with more flying.
Congratulation Scott and thank you Alan for purchasing your equipment through me.
Got together with Scott at 7:30 in the morning. It was already a little bit on the windy side but perfectly flyable. Scott set up and within an hour and half completed four flights.
He has now total of eight flights in his log book. He still struggles a bit with the inflations, it often takes several tries to lock the glider overhead. This is normal – every student goes through that and it will get better tonight. Forecast looks very good
Trained with Scott this AM. Leaving St. Catharines, heavy rain.
At the field bit better but still raining. Waited, no rain, Scott managed flight number 2. Heavy rain started, packed up and went to Tim Hortons for coffee. Rain stopped, went back for two more flights. Wind started to gust – packed up. Congrats Scott and 3 more flights in your log book. They were all well done!
Well… as I stretch out some tension in my calves under an electric heating blanket, having washed off some make-up hiding the bruising on my inner biceps, (yes I am a lady… thank you) the result of the kiting lines swaying in the breeze and pushing on my uninitiated arms; I reflect on my week spent under the instruction of Powered Paragliding Ontario’s owner/operator: Andre Zeman.
Now I could jest here that Andre is “Z-man” but perhaps I should stick to the facts. “To keep a long story short” as you may often hear Andre say, should you make the decision to embark on your flying adventure with him; I thoroughly appreciated getting to know Andre personally. He is honest, with a calibrated moral compass, maintains a keen intellect, is straight-forward to a fault, and though I risk sounding quaint: he is a man of integrity.
On a side note: I had the privilege to attend a first-timer climbing lesson (he also owns Peaks Indoor Rock Climbing) and was delighted by his ability to lead a group of 13 highschool gym students through almost three hours of their introduction to scaling indoor courses set at varying difficulty. He was succinct, amusing, and instructed the curious teens with aplomb.
Now on to the paramotor lesson: This was without a doubt second-to-none my favorite course I’ve ever taken. After meeting the two other students with whom I trained we sat down to 3 hours of the basics, which were handled in depth with the aid of a wide-screen PowerPoint. Along with hand drawn images and also some elaborate hand gestures, Andre included many video clips, jokes and “for example” explanations.
On to a multiple choice quiz to see if we were listening carefully and we then ate lunch. Whisked off on a 20 minute drive to the field, we proceeded to learn how to unpack the chute, don the kiting harness and test our listening skills.
Andre will become quite wordy in his encouragements add you will struggle with the trickiest of all aspects with this ever freeing form of flying: keeping the wing aloft.
Perhaps as a woman I required more patience and I’m happy to report that he was most accommodating.
For myself, I found kiting-the-wing a challenge met head-on. A positive attitude (a must) was easy for me as I’ve been dreaming of this form of flight since I could crawl. Although I found it disappointing that I was not, from the first, a natural at something that when demonstrated appears quite effortless, I swallowed my pride and worked harder.
You will be spent, both mentally and physically after day one. But wait-for-it, sleep on it that night and start the day with fresh eyes. Day 2 started with beautiful skies and I seemed to have practiced in my dreams for as Andre predicted suddenly I just “got it”. And the sense of accomplishment cemented for me a love for the art of kiting. If you know already what I mean when I say, first “build-a-wall” for an effortless looking launch, than you are probably an expert already.
If not, all you need do is remain positive and your focus will be honed by Andre’s attention to detail.
Soon enough, although the weather was predictably unpredictable, I made my first flight. Although I may have wished for more visibility as the sun receded from view to attend to duties in the west, I made an ungraceful takeoff, and I prefer to say I performed every action requested of me through the radio into my helmet as soon as possible but this was not the case.
The flight was over before I knew it and as could be expected I don’t retain a clear memory of all that transpired. However, Andre has since got it on record that had I followed his instructions I would have had a different report on my success. (Ask him for proof, go ahead)
My landing was also awkward. I was unable to quite make the runway and landed to the left 50 paces or so. Having landed on my knees I was shocked to find it a soft touchdown, having only flared halfway. I did however find myself uncomfortably situated with my back arched and my spine somewhat compressed, the straps held me prone and I was left feeling euphoric with adrenaline coursing through my veins, and consequently couldn’t focus through my jubilation enough to unclip my harness.
Thankfully Andre wasted no time in righting me. And we had a great discussion comparing my fuzzy version to his clear one.
If I haven’t bored you yet with this most wordy story, I can guarantee you: Andre’s stories are right up your alley.
Having now completed my 5th flight I must say I still felt butterflies on takeoff which from my point of view was executed flawlessly and subsequent counter-clockwise circling of the field was completed perfectly as I followed the guidance from Andre to a “T”.
After turning off the engine my landing was textbook, having gained the runway (grass strip) and alighting into the wind with an ideal flare.
Andre, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being yourself.
“If in trouble: look up, hands up…idle”
This morning the weather at the field was overcast. Wind was about 20 km/h – bit more then what I have expected. Talitha and Jim got ready. Jim took off first – it was just quick circuit and immediately down for landing. Jim again was pulling a little too much break on take off but other than that very good flight and excellent landing. Tal also had a very good flight – everything was perfect there’s nothing I would fix. Then wind started to get stronger and gust up so I pulled out my wind measuring pitot tube and since we were seeing gusts up to 25 kilometres per hour and more we had to pack up.
The forecast for tonight is 50-50 – both Jim and Tal decided to go home and they will come back for two more days of training in the future.
Both students accomplished five solo flights which is below average but it is not their fault. We had two very bad days where we could not even ground handle and even those days when conditions were okay our windows of opportunity were always less than normal. So over all both Jim and Talita did really well.
Congratulations to you both on your ability to fly PPG solo.
So finally a beautiful evening. Temperature about 15 Celsius and slowly decreasing south wind. That’s the way I like them. Shortly after we have arrived the equipment was set up and both Jim and Tal were ready to go.
Here is Tal about to get strapped in and here is Jim ready to go…
It took no time and Jim was in the air although on his take off he was pulling tremendous amount of break. Luckily there is so much passive built in safety with this aircraft that he simply proceeded to lumber into the air and we had no issue at all.
Tal was ready to go to. She did a textbook inflation, textbook take off, textbook flight and textbook landing. Just perfect! And both Tal and Jim really did not want to come down as it was warm and beautiful.
Here is Jim after his first landing
This is what I get paid the big $ ;-)
Here is Jim on the flight number two. After the following interview him proceeded to fly for another 15 minutes and then it was time to land just as he was turning final the engine quit on him so Jim had his first force landing. Since I was watching him planning to help him with his landing flare it was pretty easy to guide him down safely. We had some equipment trouble through this course. Mostly really related to bad batch of fuel that I have picked up. But this was different after Jim safely landed I went back to help towel to get ready for next flight and Jim noticed that the spark plug Was completely off. Well that would do it. Tal has tried to take off couple more times but again wind was getting lighter and she was getting tired so she decided that that will be it for her. Once you do perfect flight you may not want to mess it up I suppose.So me and Jim went to work and had to make a field repair to the machine. Luckily I am pretty good at that and so is Jim. This is the kind of guy that can do anything you’re better off asking Jim what he can’t do. 5 min later the spark plug cap was secured and Jim was ready to go again.
Jim cruising around – flying low
Here is Jim after landing
After we packed up it was time to go and celebrate very successful flying session. Tal has four flights and Jim also has four flights. The weather held us back for two days. I already promised both students a gift certificate for two additional days of training.
So off we went to a pub for some snacks and beer. And let me tell you about this pub it’s freaking awesome. Just one of those old-fashioned places where everybody knows your name and there’s interesting art on the walls…
What a great evening we had. Forecast for tomorrow is good as well we have more day to go!
Given the cold in the mornings we have decided to meet little bit later. At 7:30 AM wind was already up to 20 km/h per hour coming directly from east. East winds are absolutely terrible in this area, they are always turbulent and quite dangerous. Normally I do not test fly first thing in the morning but today it needed to be done. I have set up paramotor for reverse launch and as soon as I inflated the paraglider I knew that it’s going to be bad. The glider was twitching above my head and it was tricky to control it. I have taken off and quickly determined that there is a great amount turbulence in the air. So much so, that I have decided to pull big ears to safely come down through the doggy height below 200 feet. The winds were very unpredictable in fact I landed cross wind and ended up on my knees. I don’t even remember last time I did something like that…
It was clear that students will not be flying this morning we’ve done little bit of the ground handling with the promoters on and since both students were interested in my tandem unit I took them to Peaks to take a look at it. We got it out of the storage, dusted it off then started it so they could check it out.
Off to the field now. Forecast is good.
Temperature in the afternoon was bit better but still only 4°C. both Jim and to Lita had set up their gear and since Jim had good flight in the morning he let Tal to go first. She got ready, we tried several times but she has lost her ground handling skills. Since Talita needed break I went to Jim and he also struggled with the weight of the motor and the inflation techniques. So we had no choice but to get rid of the paramotors and go back to training harnesses and start basic ground handling again. After about 20 minutes I asked Talitha if she wanted to give it another go with the paramotor and she said absolutely! Yes. We got ready and in no time time she was in the air – this time in a very nice and controlled fashion.
she had very smooth flight she was able to get in the seat and made fairly good landing. And of course she was very happy and so was. Good work Talitha on the flight number three.
Jim has tried as well or not but his mojo wasn’t working and he needed rest soon. Wind has died down which makes powerparagliding quite difficult so we decided to pack up and go home.