Here is an excellent motor-out video we found on YouTube. It's excellent because there is so much that can be learned from it. Thanks so much to the pilot who posted this (not a PPPPC pilot). Click here for the full YouTube page where additional comments can be read & posted. Following are some things we can learn from this video and from other pilot's experiences...

  • First, a "motor-out" is when your engine dies in flight (probably obvious to most).

  • PPG MOTOR-OUTS ARE COMMONLY OF LITTLE CONSEQUENCE: Since we fly paragliders, losing power typically means that one will have a quiet, but uneventful, landing. This becomes even more clear after noting that a large proportion of PPG flying occurs over open fields. Power is not required for landing, but it does give you options to make an ideal into-the-wind approach and the option to go around for another approach if things aren't quite right. AN EXCEPTION: Losing power immediately after takeoff can lead to the a rough landing if the resulting overshoot of your wing cannot be "checked" quickly. The pilot (yours truly) can swing forward soon after a motor-out, and if the ground gets in your way, can lead to a rough impact. Reduce the risk of having this problem by performing a  runup of your motor immediately before takeoff.

  • MOTOR-OUTS ARE SOMEWHAT COMMON IN THE SPORT OF PPG: This is not a good thing, but it's true. Most pilots can say they've experienced a motor-out at least once. The list of reasons for this is long, but here are a few of the primary reasons...
    • As noted above, motor-outs are commonly of little consequence. This can lead some of us to be less rigorous about maintenance than we might otherwise be.
    • PPG motors are hot rods. Our motors are similar in size to your average lawn mower motor, but generate 3-5 times the power. As such, we sacrifice some reliability in the name of power, light weight and cost.

  • ALWAYS HAVE A SAFE MOTOR-OUT LANDING OPTION: This becomes obvious after watching the video, but the point is that clear landing fields should always be within gliding distance. This is an extremely important point, not only when flying over rough terrain (as in the video), but also when flying over obstructions such as power lines, buildings and water. A motor-out will rarely happen at a convenient time and you don't want to be surprised by a motor-out with little room to maneuver over or around an obstacle. Also note that water landings are a VERY dangerous option. Pilots have drowned after gliding into the water and being unable to escape their units and the tangled mess of lines that landed in the water with them. Always fly within gliding distance of the land.

  • WATCH OUT FOR POWER LINES: Although this lesson is not specific to motor-outs, ask yourself these questions after watching the video. Were you surprised, with little time to react, when you saw the power lines crossing the road in front of the glide path? In choosing your landing options would you have considered the power lines running both parallel AND across the road?

In hindsight, the pilot decided that landing in one of the fields might have been a safer option than landing on the road (see comment on YouTube). However, the fields were small and might have required precision maneuvering under pressure. Time to make a decision was short and, in the end, the pilot landed with only minor injuries. Although flying over this location was clearly not a wise decision, we would like to commend the pilot for having the presence of mind to do so many things right.

  1. He attempted two restarts of the motor
  2. Called "clear" even though no one was anywhere near his propeller :)
  3. Made quick decisions under pressure
  4. Made it home in one piece
  5. Posted this video for the rest of us to learn from

Fly Safe, PPPPC