Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Chapter 7 — Takeoffs and Departure Climbs

The Stacked (or Accordion) Method

The stacked method of laying out a wing involves piling the wing up like an accordion with all of the suspension lines stretched out as far as possible to the rear of the cart. [Figure 7-2] The pilot can choose to change from the inverted layout to the stacked method on days where a slight wind is blowing or if the pilot is concerned with the condition of the takeoff area. Pavement or areas of the ground not covered in grass in the takeoff runway will make it necessary to get the wing off the ground with as little ground drag as possible to avoid tearing or jeopardizing the integrity of the wing fabric and/or lines.

With the wing spread out in the inverted configuration and the lines inspected, you can pull the cart forward to tighten all of the lines. This will begin the stacking process. When the slack has been removed from all lines, the pilot then goes back to the wing and finishes the stacking process by hand. This usually means taking the trailing edge of the wing and tucking it under the rest of the wing.

To complete the process of stacking the wing there are two options for laying out the leading edge. Generally, if there is no wind you may want to leave the leading edge open on top of the stack. If it is a little windy, take the leading edge and tuck it behind and under the rest of the wing. By “hiding” the leading edge over and under the rest of the wing, the wind will blow over the top of the stacked wing without catching the open edges of the wing cells. When you start the takeoff roll, the leading edge is pulled forward and up, is exposed to airflow and begins a quick inflation.

Cockpit Management

The FAA regulations require the pilot to brief each person on board on how to fasten and unfasten his or her seatbelt and, if installed, shoulder harness. This passenger briefing should be accomplished before starting the engine, to include information on the proper use of safety equipment and exiting the aircraft. You should also inform the passenger as to what to expect during takeoff, flight, and landing, what feelings and jolts are normal, what to do if the cart should roll over, and what to do if the engine fails. Make sure passengers are aware of the hazards and risks of a moving propeller and educate them on the necessity of keeping items secured so they don’t get sucked through the propeller. Help them to secure their helmets (if worn) and explain how to control the intercom. Show them where to put their hands and feet and make sure any cameras or equipment are secure. A passenger should be aware that an aborted takeoff is always a possibility. Tell them everything depends upon the wing— if the wing does not inflate properly, or does not inflate and rotate in time to take off and clear an obstacle, the engine will be shut down. Finally, emergency procedures should be discussed. At a minimum, it should be explained that in the case of a rollover, the passenger should keep arms and legs inside the protected areas of the cart. In case of an accident, the passenger should not be holding onto a part of the structure that could hit the ground or an obstacle and hurt their hand or any other part of their body. The informed passenger is a safe passenger and one that will enjoy the flight.

After entering the cart, you should first ensure that all necessary equipment, documents, checklists, and navigation charts appropriate for the flight are on board and secure. If a portable intercom, headsets, or a hand-held global positioning system (GPS) is used, the pilot is responsible for ensuring that the routing of wires and cables does not interfere with the motion or the operation of any control. Regardless of what materials will be used, they should be neatly arranged and organized in a manner that makes them readily available. Loose items should be properly secured to ensure nothing goes through the propeller or departs the aircraft. All pilots should form the habit of good housekeeping.

When you are comfortably seated, fasten the safety belt and shoulder harness and adjust to a comfortably snug fit. The shoulder harness must be worn at least for the takeoff and landing, although because of the open cockpit, it is highly recommended both pilot and passenger wear seat belts at all times. If the seats are adjustable, it is important to ensure the seat is locked in position. Accidents have occurred as the result of seat movement during acceleration or pitch attitude changes during takeoffs or landings. When the seat suddenly moves too close or too far away from the controls, you may be unable to maintain control of the powered parachute.

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