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Brake Handle Caught in Propeller

PPG Type:
Type of Injury:

Pilot Details

Age: 54
Weight: 162
Gender:
Highest rating held at the time of the incident:
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Gear Details

Wing Brand:
Model: Dudek Nucleon WRC 23m2
Size:
Paramotor Frame: Nirvana Rodeo with

Incident Details

May 19, 2015
Location of the incident:
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Type of Incident
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During a test flight of a new wing I had been enjoying its performance during low flying manoeuvres and after collecting a beach toy (with my foot during low flight) I climbed away with full power. At about 10-15 feet I raised the right brake towards the fully-up (retracted) position and let it go to use my right hand to get into the seat.

As I did so there was a loud noise as the right brake handle went into the prop through the top part of the paramotor cage. I immediately pulled the brake handle back out from the propeller (I had to pull very hard) and was able to fly an uneventful short pattern to land using the remaining brake handle parts.

The propeller sustained repairable damage to the leading edge (split) and the brake handle required replacement. No lines or any other component were damaged.

BACKGROUND/COMMENT: I had flown about 60 hours PPG but all were on a wing (the MacPara Muse 3, 24m) where magnets are not fitted and securing brake handles after any brake release was impractical (such securing and release of the factory-fitted press-studs was difficult). No incidents had occurred in similar manoeuvres with that wing and motor/cage combination. I had never been taught to secure the brakes when not in use but learned a valuable lesson on this reflex wing (fitted with magnets).

To reduce the chance of a similar incident, that could so easily have been fatal, I have started to use better technique and now use the magnets on this wing (that I now own). I publicised the problem on the Facebook Paramotor forum, on YouTube PPG Dudek Nucleon WRC 23m First Flight and Incident, and modified my Rodeo cage line density to 3 inches (down from 6 inches). I also wrote to Nirvana suggesting they modify future builds of the Rodeo cage to similarly improve safety and they responded that they are building a test cage to assess the idea.

The attached photos show how I have modified the cage – a simple procedure. I learnt a valuable lesson from this incident and hope that others will consider their brake handling technique and their cage susceptibility to such ingest of anything!

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