Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Purpose and Scope

Ground reference maneuvers and their related factors are used in developing a high degree of pilot skill. Although most of these maneuvers are not performed as such in normal everyday flying, the elements and principles involved in each are applicable to performance of the customary pilot operations. They aid the pilot in analyzing the effect of wind and other forces acting on the powered parachute, and in developing a fine control touch and the division of attention necessary for accurate and safe powered parachute maneuvering.

All of the early part of the pilot’s training has been conducted for the purpose of developing technique, knowledge of maneuvers, feel, and the handling of the powered parachute in general. This training will have required that most of the pilot’s attention be given to the actual handling of the powered parachute, and the results of control pressures on the action of the powered parachute.

If permitted to continue beyond the appropriate training stage, however, the student pilot’s concentration of attention will become a fixed habit, one that will seriously detract from the student’s ease and safety as a pilot, and will be very difficult to eliminate. Therefore it is necessary, as soon as the pilot shows proficiency in the fundamental maneuvers, that the pilot be introduced to maneuvers requiring outside attention on a practical application of these maneuvers and the knowledge gained.

During ground reference maneuvers, it is important that basic flying technique previously learned be maintained. The flight instructor should not allow any relaxation of the student’s previous standard of technique simply because a new factor is added. This requirement should be maintained throughout the student’s progress from maneuver to maneuver. Each new maneuver should embody some advance and include the principles of the preceding one in order that continuity is maintained. Each new factor introduced should be merely a step-up of one already learned so that orderly, consistent progress can be made.

Maneuvering by Reference to Ground Objects

Ground track or ground reference maneuvers are performed at a relatively low altitude while applying wind drift correction as needed to follow a predetermined track or path over the ground. They are designed to develop the ability to control the powered parachute and to recognize and correct for the effect of wind while dividing attention among other matters. This requires planning ahead of the powered parachute, maintaining orientation in relation to ground objects, flying appropriate headings to follow a desired ground track, and being cognizant of other air traffic in the immediate vicinity.

Pilots should perform clearing turns prior to beginning a maneuver. The essential idea of the clearing turn is to be certain that the next maneuver is not going to proceed into another aircraft’s flightpath. Some pilot training programs have hard and fast rules, such as requiring two 90° turns in opposite directions before executing any training maneuver. Other types of clearing procedures may be developed by individual flight instructors. Whatever the preferred method, a clearing procedure should be used. Execute the appropriate clearing procedure before all turns and before executing any training maneuver. Proper clearing procedures, combined with proper visual scanning techniques, are the most effective strategy for collision avoidance.

Ground reference maneuvers should be flown so as not to descend below 200 feet above the ground. The actual altitude will depend on a number of factors. You should plan and fly the maneuver so as not to descend below an altitude of 200 feet above ground level (AGL); however you must also plan and fly so as not to come closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure.

• The radius of the turn and the path of the powered parachute over the ground should be easily noted and changes planned and effected as circumstances require.
• Drift should be easily discernable, but not tax the student too much in making corrections.
• The altitude should be low enough to render any gain or loss apparent to the student, but in no case closer than 500 feet to the highest obstruction or lower then 200 feet above the ground.

During these maneuvers, both the instructor and the student should be alert for available forced-landing fields. The area chosen should be away from communities, livestock, or groups of people to prevent possible annoyance or hazards to others. Due to the altitudes at which these maneuvers are performed, there is little time available to search for a suitable field for landing in the event the need arises.

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