Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Chapter 5 — Preflight and Ground Operations

Wing Inspection

The powered parachute flight instructor will spend a great deal of time explaining the systems of the wing, the proper preflight, and the different methods of staging the wing for inflation by means of different layout techniques. The wing, and its performance, is critical to flight and safety; once again a thorough and systematic preflight procedure is essential.

Check the wind direction and manually point the cart directly into the wind. Many PPC pilots use a telescoping rod with a windsock or long strip of narrow rip-stop suspended from the top, displayed from their powered parachute trailer or vehicle to determine wind direction and wind speed. Some pilots prefer handheld wind speed/direction devices. Most conventional airports have some sort of wind indicator (windsock, wind T, etc.) positioned in the segmented circle, as well as electronic weather indicators that accurately measure wind speed and direction at the field. Once the powered parachute engine starts it will be nearly impossible for the pilot to determine the direction of the wind without the aid of a wind direction indicator. [Figure 5-12]

Remove the wing bag from its stored position on the airframe, either on the rear or pilot’s seat, or hanging from the airframe itself. It is critical that the bag not be twisted, rotated or turned when removing it from its storage location, as doing so will twist and entangle the suspension lines. Another determining factor in keeping the suspension lines free from is how you packed the wing away the last time it was flown; the proper procedure for re-bagging the PPC wing will be covered at the end of this chapter.

It is critical for the powered parachute pilot to be able to recognize when the suspension lines are twisted and to know how to untwist them. Most wing bags are clearly marked with an emblem or other marking to identify one side of the bag from the other. Keeping the marked side of the wing bag always facing in the same direction (either facing the cart or facing away from the cart) is a helpful reference to determine if you have twisted the suspension lines while moving the wing into place, either on or behind the cart. The key is to be consistent and methodical in whatever procedure you use. Your flight instructor will offer input on a practical procedure. The height and physical strength of the pilot will also be a factor in determining the best position on the cart to store the wing bag.

Place the wing bag on the ground directly behind the airframe as far back as the riser and support lines will allow, keeping the wing bag in the same configuration that it was removed from the cart. You will have to pull both line sleeves that hold the suspension lines out of the wing bag, and one line sleeve up and around the cart to follow the bag; those lines should run straight from the attach points on the cart to the wing bag after the bag is in position behind the cart. Tilt the wing bag toward the cart to spill the folded wing out of the bag and onto the ground. [Figure 5-13]

With the wing folded behind the cart, you are ready to spread it out and in doing so begin to visually inspect the uninflated wing. Unfold the right side of the wing toward the right and repeat on the left side. As you unfold the wing, it should remain centered directly behind the cart. After the wing is completely unfolded, stand directly behind the cart and hold the leading edge of the wing up in front of you as you face the backside of the cart. You will see an “x” in the lines; this “x” should be positioned directly behind the centerline of the prop on the cart. [Figure 5-14] If it is not, physically pick up the center and drag it into the center position. Then go to the end of the side that will be bunched up and pull out the slack.

Remove the protective sleeves that cover the suspension lines and their components. The protective sleeves are referred to as line sleeves and there is a line sleeve on each set of lines (or two— the right and the left). [Figure 5-15]

While laying out the wing, check for tears in the fabric, torn or loose stitching, abrasions, and deterioration of the fabric from ultraviolet rays. The sun is one of the powered parachute wing’s worst enemies, next to the prop! Certain colors deteriorate faster than others, like red and orange, when exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. When the wing is not being used, you should always return it to its wing bag. Take this opportunity to check the wing cells for debris, such as stones, sticks, and bugs; lifting the wing by the trailing edge and gently shaking it will allow most captured debris to fall out of the ram-air openings on the leading edge of the wing.

With the wing centered behind the cart, it is time to start checking the suspension lines. At first glance it may look difficult to sort out all of the lines from the cart to the wing. Most of the time, the lines will straighten out with just a light flick of the wrist. Make sure you have no twists or line-overs and your lines are straight. As long as the wing has not been physically removed, or disconnected from the cart, there should not be any permanent knots in the lines. In the event that you detect pressure knots during the line inspection they are easily removed with minimal manipulation.

Small twigs, stems from weeds, and other debris can get caught in the lines to form pressure knots. Pressure knots are a concern because they are only “knots” when there is tension on the lines. That means they are only a problem when your wing is inflated. As soon as you land, the foreign object often shakes free and there is no knot. However, while you are flying, that pressure knot can cause the powered parachute to go into a steep turn. Make sure there is nothing around to catch into your line sets. The more organized the suspension lines are laid out during this preflight check, the more likely that the wing will kite evenly and without mishap. It may take a great deal of space to get all the cells open during the inflation of the wing. Aborting the takeoff to re-kite the wing is always an option, but it is not desirable. Preflight the wing correctly the first time.

If you put your wing away correctly and took it out as described, it should not have any twists in it. However, you still need to check. Start where the risers attach to the cart. Make sure they are not twisted around anything and trace each one back to the point where the wing risers are attached to the cart.

Check the steering lines on both sides of the cart; make sure the anchor point knots are secure and the lines flow freely through all guides and pulleys. Make sure the links on both sides of the aircraft are secure; it is recommended that the links are finger tight plus one-quarter turn. Continue by checking that the riser cables are not twisted or damaged and they are free from tangles. At this time pull slack from the steering lines so the steering bars are fully retracted. Physically separating the steering lines from the suspension lines, pulling them out and away to the outer edge of the wingtips, enables you to visually see the steering lines are free from being tangled with the rest of the lines. [Figure 5-16]

Continue to check the suspension lines for tangles, knots and wear and the attachment points for security and lack of fraying. [Figure 5-17] The A lines should be visually and physically separated from the B lines at the point where the lines are connected to the risers. Most newer wing lines are color-coded to make this process visually easier; the older wing styles will still be separated and configured the same way as the newer wings, however all the lines will be the same color. The A lines will travel toward the leading edge of the wing and subdivide into the C lines. The B lines will travel toward the trailing edge of the wing and subdivide into the D lines. Make sure that the lines are all separated and not tangled. The A/C lines will be on top of the B/D lines when the lines are returned to the ground after the preflight of each section. Make sure there is no debris around to catch in the line sets during wing inflation; when the length of the line is altered it changes how the line holds the wing. The length of the lines are clearly defined by the manufacturers and should not be changed. The more organized the suspension lines are laid out during this preflight check, the more likely that the wing will kite evenly and without mishap; a lot of runway can be used up trying to get all the cells open during inflation of the wing. Aborting the takeoff to re-kite the wing is always an option, but it is not desirable. Preflight the wing correctly the first time; taking your time will pay off in the end.

 ŠAvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                       Contact Us              Return To Books

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator