P1 Test Study Guide
⁃ Foot launched free flying is allowed under FAR 103. Don’t mess that up! Our launch and landing sites are very special and many have fragile, sensitive relationships with land owners to maintain access to pilots. It’s much tougher to have to re-open a site after preventable incidents shut it down, than just following the rules and keeping the sites open.
⁃ Pilots tend to be the ones who induce “pilot induced oscillations” (I know, whowoulda thunk it??? ), usually with quick stabbing inputs, and/or untimely corrections. Why would anyone do untimely corrections? Because it feels like the right thing to do. It’s easy to do, because the correct inputs are counterintuitive. If you find yourself swinging about, it helps to just relax, remember that the sack-of-potatoes “pilot” does OK, maybe favor a single direction with a little bit of weight shift, and maybe a small brake input in the same direction.
⁃ Parachute Landing Fall (PLF) should be used to minimize injuries if you can’t land safely in a more traditional way. If you are coming in “hot” after your best attempt at a well-timed flare, get ready to run, or eat it. If you are going to eat it, you might as well do it a little slower.
⁃ Pulling on the control toggles is increasing the drag AND increasing the angle of attack. A little bit of pressure is OK, but using too much for too long will lead to a stall, or spin. Speed is your friend.
⁃ Air speed and ground speed are different. Since paragliders are gravity-powered vehicles and gravity is fairly constant, our air speed doesn't really change (unless you change it by speeding up or slowing down). The glider doesn’t know how fast the wind is blowing. For example, a 20mph wing at trim speed against a 20mph head wind will result in 0mph ground speed, but the wing is still flying at a 20mph air speed. The wing is not moving forward across the ground, but it is still flying, not stalled. It’s only the ground speed that is low. If you're flying with a 20mph tail wind, your ground speed would be 40mph, but your air speed is still 20mph.
⁃ Forward inflations are useful when you know you are going to have to run faster, or you don’t have the room on launch to turn around from a reverse inflation position. Situations that may call for a forward launch include, but are not limited to: light winds, shallow slopes, high altitude with light winds, restricted launch areas, small wings, etc.
⁃ Look where you want to go, especially while landing. Target fixation is real and you tend to go where you are looking. Use it to your advantage. Many police cars are hit on the side of the highway despite having the brightest of flashing lights. If you see an older lady at the landing zone looking like she needs a new hip, don’t look at her!!!
⁃ A pre-flight inspection is critical for many reasons, one of which is to ensure that the equipment and the pilot are airworthy. After all, it’s your life on these lines! (Legs, legs, legs! Both legs, waist, chest, chin, (1,2,3,4,5) sail integrity, reserve pins/handles, lines, speed bar, etc.) Double, triple-check!!!
⁃ Stay calm, cool, and collected, even if getting picked up on launch a little earlier than anticipated, maybe even while still in the reverse kiting position. If you try to abort now by pulling the control toggles all the way down, you will create a more curved airfoil and create more lift. You will likely get pulled up and back before you can effectively disable your wing. Instead, maintain directional control and fly the canopy by reaching for rear risers, or lines directly if needed. Untwist when it’s safe. Don’t pull the control toggles with anything more than a half twist (Reverse kiting is already a half twist).
⁃ As a P1, you and your instructor will make the decision to fly. You are the “pilot in command ”, but at this beginning point in your paragliding journey, you make these decisions together.
⁃ “Weather or not ”. Even more important than deciding what to bring to the safety meeting is to check the weather first.
⁃ Try not to run too fast or too slow relative to your wing while launching. We want to match our running speed with our wing’s flying speed. We want to progressively run faster and faster while staying heavy, using our gravity (body weight) to keep pressure in our wing as we’re launching.
⁃ Remember to run with your knees flexed and leaning forward to help you maintain contact with the ground. Make yourself heavy! Your paraglider is a gravity-powered vehicle.
⁃ Stalls by definition occur when we exceed the critical angle of attack (AoA). Like your hand out of the window of a car, use too high of an angle relative to the wind and your hand loses it’s magic. Your hand will no longer go up and instead will be pushed backwards.
⁃ Collapses occur with too low of an angle of attack. (AoA) This is like catching an edge on skis, or a snowboard, or pearling on a surfboard. Note that the speed bar is also lowering our angle of attack and by definition makes our wing more prone to collapse. That's why I call it a compromised configuration. This is not to say that the speed bar is to be avoided. Quite the contrary. It has it's time and place, maybe close to the ground in rough air is not one of them.
⁃ If you do flare a little too early and your Go-Go Gadget legs aren’t responding, hold your current toggle position and finish the flare at the appropriate height. Knowing that you just bled off a lot of energy, your landing may be harder than it needed to be. Think about the pendulum we have created here. If we go hands up, the wing may fly past us and will result in a swing-down motion into the ground. A well-timed flare goes a long way in preserving our future mobility.
⁃ We need 35 flights over at least 7 different flying days to get our P2. Until then, you must still fly under your instructor’s supervision.
⁃ We usually try to launch and land into the wind, because it will help our GROUND speed to become lower. We will not have to run as fast, or for as long upon inflating our glider. Lower ground speeds during landings are obviously beneficial as well.
⁃ A pilot’s good judgment is more important than all the gear or skills in the world.
⁃ I treat my glider like a loaded gun with a hair trigger. That is to say, with a ton of respect! People have died even when not connected to their gliders. Wear your helmet if you are giving it the chance to harm you. Don’t think you can always just let go, because you aren’t connected. You won’t be the first, nor the last to be wrong about that.
⁃ Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Your wing is no different. It is impossible to maintain your forward posture if looking directly up at your wing. Look out to the sides to check your wing, while maintaining forward posture and continuing to build speed.
⁃ Reference control toggle pressures, NOT positions such as shoulder, carabiner, etc. This is part of learning to speak "wing-lish".
⁃ Yes there is a stall speed, but we know it’s all about Angle of Attack. (AoA) If you fly too slow, you lose your lift. If you lose your lift, soon you will have too high of an angle of attack, which will cause the stall.
⁃ Glider inputs should be smooth and sexy (not sharp, deep, heavy and aggressive) to avoid over-controlling.
⁃ After landing, take inventory of incoming aircraft and clear the active runway.
⁃ As a general rule, especially as a beginner, No Low Turns! Even a 90 degree cross-wind is not adding to your ground speed, nor is it reducing your ground speed. Even though a cross-wind is not ideal (it's essentially a nil-wind landing), a well-timed flare will make for magically delicious landings.
⁃ Again, speed is your friend. Even a sack of potatoes will have an uneventful flight in smooth air. Don’t pull the control toggles all the way down unless you are landing, even if you are hanging uncomfortably from sensitive genitalia right after launch.
⁃ You can damage your wing in many ways, including leaving it in the sun, dragging it across the ground, improper folding, and even soap and water can damage it. If you’re not using your wing, make sure to stow it in the shade to prevent unnecessary UV damage.
⁃ Don’t be a launch potato. Do your pre-flight check in an area that doesn’t interfere with other pilots who are ready to launch.
⁃ An almost over-exaggerated forward “torpedo” posture is helpful for many reasons. Perhaps most notable, it helps to keep your landing gear (legs) below you, by resisting the tendency that many harnesses have of flipping you back into your seat too soon. If you are going to touch down again soon after your take off, you will be well-suited to continue to run, and remember, we can even add a little bit of control toggle pressure to achieve “minimum sink”. This means we may not have to run again at all and hey, if we are going to eat it, we might as well do it a little slower.
⁃ Advantages of reverse inflations over forward inflations include being able to see line tangles, tension knots, sticks, etc. Reverse inflations allow for better control in stronger winds, they give us the ability to run toward our wing easier to ease tension, they make control inputs easier during the inflation itself, which allows us to handle gusts and crosswinds more effectively.
⁃ Trim speed is the speed the glider will tend to fly when no pilot input is given. You can fly slower than trim, or faster than trim, but the forces of gravity, lift and drag will all balance out at trim speed. (~20 mph for our conversations).