Low on fuel in a powered paraglider
by Had Robinson
What should a PPG pilot do if he finds himself far from home and running low on fuel?
Running out of fuel can be really inconvenient, especially if you fly in places like we do where there are few roads, non-existent cell phone service, and not many people. You miscalculated your fuel supply or forgot to check it. What can you do?
Did you carry a SPOT or some reliable way to contact others if you are in real trouble? I hope so. Hopefully, you did not seriously miscalculate the amount of fuel in your tank.
1. If it is during the early part of the day, you can do what we PG pilots do: get a free ride from any thermals. If you do not know how to thermal, any good PG school can teach you how. The beauty of PPG is that a PG pilot can be a thermal hunter in ways he could never do without a paramotor.
2. If you do not know how to thermal or are flying at the end of the day, you can extend your distance about 10-15% by taking advantage of the pressure wave created at the front of the glider. However, it is of no benefit except when flying right next to the ground. In tests, I have measured a pressure gradient directly beneath and in front of the glider equivalent to lift of from 20 to 40 ft./min. Observant pilots will likely discover on their own that less throttle is needed when flying within a few feet of the surface. Hopefully, the terrain will generally allow this type of flight.
Thankfully, if you must land in remote areas, your gear will be safe and you can leave it and then enjoy a nice hike through the wilderness. You did bring a GPS, extra batteries, water, and a compass, right?