After 750km of tough and mixed weather conditions, we have reached our next major hurdle! Dover. Looking out over a big piece of water again. We are now good to go for the English Channel. Flight plan logged. Customs cleared. French airfield given advance warning.
Weather looking good for morning.
We have had everything thrown at us with weather and flown in conditions I have not flown in before! I have a combination of wing and motor now that make easy and safe going of these challenging conditions. With a slight tailwind (max 10-12mph) I was able to maintain 60-75kph over ground for a lot of today, hovering about cloud base at about 1500-2000ft.
Good flying conditions at reasonable height.
We had a very good first day of flying. We managed to cover about 300km which included the first significant sea crossing from Northern Ireland to Scotland.
The first leg was flown with Fergus Taylor, who joined me for this crossing, to see me on the way. John Drew followed on the ferry from NI across and was about 4hrs behind me for the start of the day.
The crossing was flown in perfect conditions, which not only made the flying a pleasure, but also made the boat crossing perfect. Philip and Stephan Scallan, were accompanied by Sinead Creagh and David Burns. Huge thanks to Philip for bringing the boat up by road from Wexford. She was able to keep up with us flying about 50-55kph all the way.
Thanks to Fergus for the lovely crossing photos.
The first landing in Scotland was alongside a petrol station in Creetown, where I re-fueled and had a cup of tea, before heading on my way. The next flight took me from Scotland to a spot in Northern England, above the Lake District. I stayed here waiting for John and the campervan to catch up, and where we had a lunch stop, before we heading on across the Pennines for the next leg.
This flight was interesting! Low cloud and increasing winds through the mountain pass kept me alert, as we moved East and away from the last significant mountains ahead all the way down the East Coast.
I took off in 20+ degrees but by the time I got up the Pennines, it was Cold!! After another hour in the air I was very cold and eventually had to land as soon as I found a flag giving me some ground wind information. At one point in the pass, the ground speed was up to 75-80kph, which was expected as the wind funnelled though the gap. It would have been better to have been higher at this point, but cloud base was less than 1000' above the road at the mountain top. Wind moderated and settled some 10k down the road.
Unfortunately after a good start we are stuck in Bernard Castle now waiting for the rain to stop!
Finally we are hoping we have the weather break we were hoping for. We may be lucky enough to get the Northern Irish Sea crossing made either this Tuesday evening if rain lets up, or Wednesday morning.
The crossing is the first challenge on this trip, and to ensure a safe crossing we need suitable conditions for flying and for the boat, who will accompany the crossing. If conditions are too rough on water, the boat will have more difficult keeping up! We would hope that this flight will only take 40-45mins over exposed water before reaching the safety of the Scottish side.
Updates will be posted.
Interview with Alison Nulty, ITV Southern Correspondent.
Sea survival training and testing session with Ray Johnston, Operations Manager and his team, at the NMCI Pool training facility.
An afternoon at the National Maritime College training facility, proved hugely valuable to the planning for the open water crossings. In the event of an engine failure over the sea, the paramotor would glide in a fully controlled manner for up to 15minutes, depending on the height, and would have a glide ratio of up to 5km in the direction of the rescue/ support boat, arranged for the crossings. In the NMCI facility, we tested on land and in the water, evacuation/ exit strategy from the equipment, and various configurations of equipment floatation, and personal floatation devices.
On land the NMCI did a classroom session to look at the shock effect of landing in cold water and the potential risk of gasping for air, with inevitable potentially serious implications. Equipment for the flight and water crossings was reviewed in detail.
As one option for exiting the equipment just before making contact was reviewed, a series of jumps off the higher platforms in the NMCI were tried, to perfect the protection of the airways and dropping from a height.
The NMCI provide training for Seamen of all levels and also for commercial pilots, in both Helicopter and fixed wing test rigs. They have almost every type of life raft available, including aircraft types, for sea survival training. There are RIB and inflatable boats in the facility to practice recovery and rescue training.
The NMAI and the IAA are now exploring the possibility of bringing specifically tailored GA pilot training to the facility for those wishing to avail of this crucial training. Recent incidents this summer have highlighted the need for some preventative survival training.
The results of the session will be reviewed in the coming weeks and outcomes shared. Sacha Dench, UK paramotor pilot has also conducted tests in the RNLI similar training facility and we are planning to share notes and try to make the findings available to all.
Huge thanks to Ray and the NMAI team for this opportunity. RTE footage to follow shortly!
The NMCI facility was able to recreate storm conditions with wind waves and rain, to allow trainees to see how different it all is in open choppy weather conditions at sea,
National Maritime College of Ireland:
National Maritime College of Ireland,
Preparing for the pool training sessions this week to test the emergency systems for any unlikely water landings!
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