by Eric Marzewski
Here's a tip for no wind launches. I call this whole technique "The Nail" or "Nailing it", meaning nailing your launch, nailing your ground handling and nailing the proper setup of the wing.
You aggressively horse shoe the wing, so much that it is in a "V" shape, fold wing tips over 2-3 feet, back up 3-4 paces (even all the way to the wing if you are not as strong or have a tough, old or bagged out used wing), use 30% + power while leaning back resisting the thrust. Then just keep power and go! Run fast while applying slowly full power in about 3-5 seconds. Be aware as you "jump start" or "pop" the paraglider up it can over shoot you if it has: easy inflation, holding "A’s" to long or if the wind gusts up. Learn to control the surge or wing from over shooting you while ground handling before adding the motor. Strive for smooth steps, timing and keep the wing perfectly straight. If you can resist any side movement while running or launching, then your take off will be in 25% the normal running distance. If you have ever towed with resisting the tow and saw that it was easier to get up while being assisted, then apply this to what the motor will do for you.
Set up for the center of the wing to come straight up, while using prop power, steps and body weight to get it up. The trick is you can back up all the way to the wing (for older slug wings), but only about three large paces are needed for a good wing. You use a jump start of paces and power on throttle to kick the wing up, the problem is you "must" keep it centered to "nail the launch", so too much power or to fast of a jump start will shoot the wing quickly to the side and be unrecoverable if you're not perfectly square!
Nailing it aka The Nail Technique:
1. Set your wing up facing "directly" into wind as usual.
2. Holding the center cell, standing behind the wind downwind, pull it flat on it's back until totally laying on top surface into a "V" exaggerated horse shoe shape. This does two things:
A. Your wing tends to roll up and fly over better when laying on top surface opposed to folded on to it's self like an accordion.
B. You pulled your center cell only, thus you have a nice "V" shape or exaggerated horse shape. make sure your ram air leading edge cells are tight with no sloppy spots, laying on the top surface and the wing totally symmetrical (evenly laid out if cut down the center)!
3. Fold the wing tips onto themselves about 2-3 feet in or 2-3 cells. This assists one tip to not catch slight wind gust, cuts your uneven riser control or helps to prevent a tip or side from flying over fast. Again, when jump starting by running or with power it's easy to fly it up to one side if you just lay it out with no horse shoe or exaggerated horse = a "V" shape. Yes, a tad more pull is needed to get it up with the "V", but you never notice as power or extra steps help pop it up. Your center flies straight, then tips inflate.
4. You then set up to go without pulling the leading edge over! Leave it on it's back and go to where line just get less slack, then "step 3 paces backwards" so you can jump start it. If you have an older designed wing, then go almost all the way to the trailing edge of the wing. You'll have extra running and force to get it up. Do not pop it up then slow down expecting the wing to magically fly you off the ground! If you pop it and slow, then it will have a full frontal and over shoot you. You can "parablend" your pretty wing. Be ready to tap or whack the brakes should you have too much surge or acceleration as you pull it up. Keep running and go for it! Every launch in low wind you should be charging your wing off the ground! Taking control and stabilizing roll or side to side movement, then when stable your off. Again if you suddenly slow down and look up, you might have to watch your wing collapse into your prop! :( Not good. You should lean into the pop and use your body weight for a second if needed should the wind come up just as you start so to keep you from being pulled backwards if the wind came up as you hit the point where the wing comes up, but make sure you keep pushing and run while "straightening your back out, like a weird seated running position" so your motor thrusts forward and not down. Do not run leaning forward (you then fight your motor) as in free flying paragliding launching and do not with hand out in front moving back and forth. Your then braking and oscillating the wing as you pull the brakes. "Keep you hands back and up for less brake pressure". (Resist Thrust, Run, Pop, Run, Stabilize, then FLY! Off mother earth.)
5. Stay off the brakes, gain speed! Speed is your friend on launch and especially landings. If you can't run any faster and the wing is stable above (no side to side), then pull 1/4 brakes and "hold them" as you climb out creating more lift. Keep feet moving in case you come down for a touch off. Then, very slowly let of brakes as your 50 feet up and climbing. Or better yet, if you do what's best and a right turn after take off. Try reverse steering and let off only the left brake! Then you will turn to right and have max climb and steering on your nailed launch.
6. Use the throttle... embrace power! Use your motor, it's your friend. Always make sure you warmed it up for 3 minutes for power. Use any where from 1/3-1/2 as you start. Lean back to resist the power, then go. Applying more power slowly as you get the wing up for 3-5 seconds. Too much power might over shoot you and you'll need to quickly tap the brakes so your wing doesn't overshoot you casing a frontal collapse and fall into you. I like about 1/3, then apply smoothly in about 3 seconds full power. If you nailed it, then your off in about 5-10 steps! For big boys who have problems running or anyone with used or older bagged out or poor designed, as I call "slug" wings. You might need full power and backing up all the way to your wing to really jump start as mentioned above.
The key is when you have used this technique and do "all" mentioned you pop it up, but the center flies the fastest, thus your on the gas, running and your wing is above you where you need it, not off to the side.
I've seen too many good pilots, locals and students during their solos try 5-6 attempts, ready to throw their helmet across the field, then I suggested use the nail technique and they surely nailed it! Some times after a tiring day at work we need a bit of help or perfect lay outs, especially in summer hot and humid high altitude density conditions.