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A bit of a close call with a small helicopter near sunset.

PPG Type: Foot Launch – Single Occupant
Type of Injury: No Injury

Pilot Details

Age: 54
Weight: 155
Gender: Male
Highest rating held at the time of the incident: Intermediate – PPG 2
Pilot experience level: 50+ hours

Gear Details

Wing Brand: Ozone
Model: Roadster 3
Size: 24
Paramotor Frame: Parajet Maverick with Vittorazi Atom-80

Incident Details

November 21, 2022 4:55 PM
Location of the incident:
Lancaster, South Carolina
Type of Incident
: Close Call

We have a few small helicopters in my area that frequently fly at tree-top level.  In this incident, I was doing wingover’s decending into a field for some low flying.  I was unaware that a helicopter was flying at approximately 150 feet in the direction I was travelling.  Key points include; low light conditions near sunset, lack of lighting on the helicopter, lack of ADSB from the helicopter (at least I didn’t see him on radar before I took off 15 minutes earlier – probably due to his low altitude), and his helicopter being of dark color against the dark trees while I was at a higher altitude than he was while approaching.  My (Hunter) strobe was on.  My wing is yellow/orange so very visible.  The helicopter pilot evidently saw me before I saw him and increased his altitude while shifting away.  He appears to pass me approximately slightly higher and 500-700 feet distant horizontally.  Wind was nil, so he was not upwind of me while passing.  I chose to turn 90 degrees away from his flight path and ascend to avoid potential rotor.  I encountered no rotor from his aircraft as I departed.  Other notes: I made radio calls before taking off, but had been silent since announcing that I was departing the pattern to the South after my launch.  I had heard the helicopter pilot on the air band before take-off, but was unaware of his position or direction of travel (I did check FlightRadar before launching but he didn’t show up.)  Other than having ADSB-out, I’m not sure I could have done anything else.  I was doing wing-overs when (I assume) he saw me, so  I couldn’t have been any more obvious.  Video of the incident is captured here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtA-JtxQx7A

Flight Window: Evening
Wind Speed: Light Wind (1-5 mph)
Type: Light and Variable
Phase of Flight: Cruise/In Flight
Type of Injury: No Injury
Collateral Damage: None
Analysis of the incident (additional input by the incident investigation team):

Photos (if available):
Video (if available): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtA-JtxQx7A

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