Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Chapter 6 — Basic Flight Maneuvers


A glide is a basic maneuver in which the PPC loses altitude in a controlled descent with little or no engine power.

The PPC glide ratio is the distance the aircraft will travel forward in relation to the altitude it loses. For instance, if the aircraft travels 3,000 feet forward while descending 1,000 feet, its glide ratio is said to be 3 to 1. Wind is a major influence on the gliding distance in relationship to the PPC movement over the ground. With a tailwind, the PPC will glide farther, perhaps a 5 to 1 glide ratio because of the higher groundspeed. Conversely, with a headwind or a crosswind, the aircraft will not glide as far, perhaps a 2 to 1 glide ratio, because of the slower groundspeed.

Typically, a PPC is designed to fly efficiently near the best lift to drag ratio. Adding flare will normally decrease your speed by increasing your drag and angle of attack, reducing your glide ratio. Do not attempt to “stretch” a glide by applying flare and reducing the airspeed. Attempts to stretch a glide will invariably result in an increase in the descent rate and angle of descent.

A stabilized power-off descent is referred to as a normal glide. The flight instructor, while demonstrating a normal glide, should direct the pilot to note:

• sounds made by the PPC,
• no steering control is required except to maintain intended direction, and
• feel of the powered parachute.

Wing Trim

The powered parachute is designed so there is no pressure needed on the flight steering controls, thus, no pulling on the trailing edge when the PPC is flying along normally. If properly trimmed, the PPC will fly straight with no pilot input except for slight variations due to left-turning tendencies. If the PPC is flying out of this basic balanced condition, one of the steering controls can be pulled down and slight pressure applied on the side to reduce the speed of the faster side wing with a trim lock to temporarily relieve the pilot of constant steering input. This trim lock is a mechanical device the pilot can set on the ground or in flight. [Figure 6-8] It holds the pressure on the side that needs it so the pilot does not have to continually apply pressure. Due to the inefficiency of increased drag, the constant use of trim locks should not be a replacement for a well set up and properly trimmed wing. Most PPCs are currently not equipped with trim locks but this will depend on the specific manufacturer and make/model. An improperly-trimmed PPC can quickly produce pilot tension and fatigue, requiring constant pressure on one of the steering bars.

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