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A Bad Day!

The day did not start well on 15th April. There must have been something in the air? At 7am, I loaded the car with toys; the paraglider and the paramotor. It was rammed full, so much so that Ben had to travel in a separate car. Diana was visiting a friend on the Isle of Wight with little Sebastian. On loading the car I noticed that something was different… all my CD’s were gone? I then realised that some bastard had found the car to be unlocked (I was sure I had locked it?) and ‘hoovered’ everything up! I was not happy. Then on the way down to the Dyke I took the wrong turn and got lost! On reaching for my new road atlas I realised that the thief had also ‘hoovered’ this up too! The sun was out and it surely could get no worse?

We drove to the Dyke, winds were light but it was going to be thermic for sure. I noticed a single magpie flying across the slope – another unlucky sign! There were already a few pilots there waiting. We thought we would drive to the field and have a short flight on the motors. Having set everything up and done all the preflight checks, I pressed the START button and discovered that the battery on my machine was flat so it would not start! Ben had a short flight which was a good thing. We saw gliders getting serious height above the Dyke so rushed over there to try our luck. Just as we arrived the sea breeze kicked in and killed all lift by which time I had only managed some ground handling and a 2 minute flight. We packed up and went back to the field by which time Michel Carnet had arrived to show us how to start the machine with his hand. A good thing to know how to do in case one lands out! He had a flight and suggested I go for a long one to charge the battery up.

I put the harness on where Michel had landed, I was some way from the wind sock and Ben was infront of me. No problem, I thought, I can do this. The wind was quite fresh but definately flyable. The wing came up fast and I walked towards it as it came up. I then pulled the brakes forgetting I was on a reflex wing as I had been previously on the Dyke with my paraglider. Reflex wings do not tend to over shoot like paragliding wings. So, by pulling on the brakes I caused the wing to come back down causing me to be pulled off balance slightly – I increased throttle, took off, touched down again being blown 90 degrees to the wind. I should have aborted but instead kept persevering. I should have stopped the engine but as the battery was flat I suppose I did not want to in case it wouldn’t start again? By this stage I was travelling fast being pulled downwind with the engine still going. Huge mistake. I hit the ground fast and did a huge headplant. It all happened so fast.

Fortunately I was wearing a helmet!
Fortunately the propellor hit the cage causing it to stop as I hit the deck!
Unfortunately the propellor is gashed – I need a new one!
Unfortunately the cage is now a jumbled mess and totally written off – I need a new one!
Fortunately I was not hurt and walked away from this!
Fortunately Paul Bailey has said he can repair it fairly quickly!
Unfortunately it will cost me an ‘arm and a leg’! Fortunately not literally!

All in all, not a good day for me. I even forgot my packed lunch and had to share with Ben.
But some important lessons learnt and it will all be the same in 100 years. Toys can be repaired and it it all just materialistic so not at all important!

I couldn’t bring myself to take a photo of the stricken engine, Ben took the one below once we had dismantled it – I could hardly bring myself to look at the damage! I know Paul will do a fine repair – his skills are immense.
Thank you Ben and Michel for support on the field – I’ll be back!

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