Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Powered Parachute

Scuba Diving

Taking a flight, especially a high flight, after a deep scuba dive can have some devastating results. This is because the increased pressure of the water during a dive causes nitrogen to be absorbed into the body tissues and bloodstream. Then, when flying at altitudes of reduced atmospheric pressure, the nitrogen will move out of the bloodstream and tissues at a rapid rate. This rapid out-gassing of nitrogen is called the bends (as it is felt in the joints—the bending joints of the limbs) and is painful and incapacitating.

A pilot or passenger who intends to fly after scuba diving should allow the body sufficient time to rid itself of excess nitrogen that was absorbed during the dive. If the appropriate amount of time is not allowed, decompression sickness due to gases released in the blood can result in a serious in-flight emergency.

As an absolute standard safety measure, any pilot flying near a large body of water should ask the passenger during the preflight if he or she has recently been scuba diving.

The following waiting times are recommended:

Spatial Disorientation

Spatial disorientation is not normally associated with slow and low (non-aerobatic) powered parachute flights. However, it is important to know that spatial disorientation is a condition of the body’s confusion relative to the spatial position. This commonly results from the eyes disagreeing with the sense of balance (the vestibular system of the inner ear) which may be disagreeing with the postural nerve impulses from the pressure areas in the skin and muscles. Hence, the brain gets conflicting spatial information. This condition is sometimes called vertigo.

The recommended procedure to deal with spatial disorientation is to maintain constant, straight and level flight via the throttle and remove all control input to the steering controls.


Stress is a strong factor in pilot error. Stressful situations are very disruptive conditions. There are three categories of stress: environment (physical, such as loud noises), psychological (the loss of a loved one) and physiological (fatigue). Any of these factors can be influential on your mental capacities, and hence should be given consideration when begining your medical self-evaluation prior to preflight inspection. Any pilot experiencing a high level of stress is not safe and should not fly as PIC.

Stroke and Heart Attack

In the event you feel light-headed or dizzy, you should remove your feet from an input position on the steering controls. When you feel light-headed or dizzy, there is a possibility this could be a prelude to a heart attack or stroke. If you are about to experience a medical problem of this magnitude, then you could have a seizure or leg spasms (due to the pain from the heart attack) and therefore, uncontrollably and without intention, spiral yourself into the ground if the leg spasm induces severe steering input.

If you don’t feel “right”— pull your feet away from those steering controls, at least until you begin to feel better, and then get yourself safely on the ground as soon as possible.

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