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attempting stalls

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Pilot Details

Age: 45
Weight: 180
Gender:
Highest rating held at the time of the incident:
Pilot experience level:

Gear Details

Wing Brand:
Model: ozone speedster 2 22m
Size:
Paramotor Frame: air conception nitro 200 titanium with

Incident Details

July 6, 2017
Location of the incident:
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Type of Incident
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It might seem unbelievable, but I was actually thinking and remember what I was thinking….. its just it was not good thinking…. which will become obvious!!! I had intended to only try to “pre stall”, meaning to me that as soon as the wing began to stall (brakes began to become soft) I was to let off the brakes and stop a small surge if needed. I was planning to do that 100’s of times before going any further. I had done it 20 or so other times on other days with no real drama other than barely initiating a spin or two, which I thought was good learning to become aware of pulling to much brake on one side or the other. But then I watched some videos on what and how to backfly, and it seemed simple enough (bad decision making #1). So when I was attempting some pre stalls on this day, I went just a little bit further, which ended up being far more than I had skills for. One of my first attempts on this day I was coming out of, at the wrong time, what must have been a full stall. Apparently staring up at the wing did not give me reference for the wing being behind me is my guess because even in the video I do not see it and I do know its very bad to exit a full stall while swinging in front of the wing. I got a surge so big that it had a full frontal collapsed in front of and below me, but not so much that I fell into it of course, it self corrected with hands up after some serious swinging and over 90 degree of riser twist, with a cravat that I removed with a few tugs on the brake after straightening out. Other attempts ended in a very non graceful wait for things to settle, and one attempt where I stopped a large surge and I felt like I recognized what was necessary to stop it. For the record it required a lot of brakes than I expected!! Why did I keep doing it………..well, I kinda figured with each time I had learned more and would not repeat, and now of course I look at those choices and think, wow, you actually thought that!!!! To make matters worse, I have only been flying for about 10 months at time of writing. First 2 flights were on the same day in August 2016, then a few more flights without my instructor and a crash (more overconfidence and a rush to do more). Then I went to a proper school in September 2016. I have spend a lot of time progressing quite quickly by normal standards into very large wingovers, spirals, lots of foot dragging, and other acro type stuff. I have spent nearly every flight trying to learn more, but Ill repeat, I most certainly was not in a place where I should have been doing what I was with full stalls without instruction…no debate, no question! Had I only made one poor choice things might have ended differently, but I combined to many. I was flying at about 1000ft, practicing stalls completely on my own, then when things obviously did not go well continuing to try more, wearing a go pro on top of my helmet (I’ll explain later), leaving my motor running (which luckily did not interfere), having a motor on my back at all is apparently not desirable even for experienced pilots, not quite over the water but thinking if something happened the wind would carry me to the water (which might have worked had I not been to low to begin with), believing I could replicate what I saw on the MANY youtube videos I watched on the subject, and more poor choices I’m sure….but those are the obvious ones! Incident occurred 7-1-17 at 7:30 pm, 5200 ASL, 240lb all up weight, speedster 2 22m wing, Air conception Nitro 200 titanium, ozone angel square 120, 180 lb 45 years old, supposed adult. 1000’ AGL to begin attempt at a backfly or parachutall stall, heading downwind almost over a lake I often practice over, and I remember thinking “I know its a bit early to start as I’m still over land, but nothing will happen this time, and anyway if something does happen I’ll prob get blown over the lake.” I did have flotation and there were boats and other people around so I was not alone. I attempted to stall the wing and quickly hands up to the backfly position, or something like that, which clearly means I did not know what I was doing and that I was just trying things thinking I’d learn from the experience, and thinking I could manage a surge or spin if it occurred. When I let up, it surged in a big way and I obviously did not catch it. I dont remember exactly how it happened but it caused what I assume was some riser twist, which I’m fairly certain would have self corrected. The problem became the moment of the surge the go pro mounted on my helmet got in the mix of the risers or lines and immediately sent me into a full spiral. It happened incredibly quickly! I tried pulling on the brakes which were now very close to my head, but there was no available pull, I believe because of the lines getting wrapped around the go pro allowed for no movement, and in addition I could not see which way was which anyway. With my head locked into the risers/lines I was not sure which way was which. After a few spins, which felt more like what I think a SAT would feel like, not an intentional deep spiral as I dont recall high g’s, but do recall very fast circles, I was unable to move my head to see what was what or really focus on how far I was from earth. Knowing I did not have a lot of altitude to deal with the problem I somehow, very clearly and instinctively reached for the side pocket reserve, grabbed it and threw out to my right. I dont recall looking for the handle in any way, but 45 minutes before this incident I was wearing the paramotor on the ground and showing a friend how I would reach for it if need be (one of the only times I made that practice motion), and explaining how important it is to be over water when doing stuff like I was doing, and how much of a bad idea it is to land on hard ground with a reserve! Based on eyewitness observation (another pilot flying toward me at the time), and my own opinion, I believe the toss was at about 400’. As I watched the handle and diaper float out away from me I very clearly thought “f**k I lost the handle and the reserve did not deploy”. Obviously someone experienced would know that was probably a good sign, but I did not in that moment. I did put the reserve in the container and attache it to my motor unit, so I did understand at the time, but not in the moment! About 1 second later it opened (estimated at 2 seconds from toss to full open). I then realized that the motor was still running so I killed it. As soon as reserve was open and I realized I was under it, I then was looking down hoping I’d make it over to water. I even reached in my chest pack to pull out my phone so I could toss it before going over water… but once I dropped behind the damn wall (literally, not explatively), I quit moving toward the lake and ended up landing on the slight hill between the lake and the damn. Fortunately i did not land on flat ground or in the rocks that were lining the lake, or the bike path, that were both about 30’ away. I estimated the time from open chute to touching down was 15 seconds, and based on 4.7 meters per second seems in line with tossing it at what was estimated at 400’. The only time I recall noticing where my wing was after the reserve toss, I was about 100’ AGL and I noticed it was flying straight down in front of me, risers not crossed, and downwind. I do not know at what point my head became free of the risers but I assume about when the reserve opened and tension was released? The motor unit bent very significantly on the uphill side (my right side) and the entire bottom 1/2 of the frame was about 2” or more offset to the right with a significant twist as well. It absorbed a great deal of the impact, thankfully!! The harness tore away from the frame at the lowest connection point, and also tore where the reserve lines were covered by the harness flaps, as well as a few other rips and tears. I landed feet together and figured I’d try to absorb as much as I could, hoping of course without damage to my legs. I landed upright but obviously seated, with no tumbles of any kind. My back hurts a bit (which I noticed on impact) and there is plenty of general soreness and bruising, but no real damage to me, the prop, or the motor unit. There is no footage of the incident because once the go pro2 broke off the helmet (somewhere along the way), it fell, and when hitting the ground the chip popped out. Based on past experience if the chip comes out while filming it does not store the last 30 seconds or so of data. There is plenty of footage to show what I did before, and why I should have stopped though!! I share this incident for the purpose of hoping some other knucklehead reads it and does something a lot wiser than I did….like take the SIV course I will soon be taking!!! FYI, I had intended to take a course, I just had not yet and got a bit impatient, and it very much could have cost me a lot more than a repack, some frame straightening and repair (thank goodness for titanium), and a new reserve pocket and diaper.

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