A few years ago, we were at the W.G. Cresser Reserve playground, Seaholme one Friday evening, specifically on the 22nd of August 2014. While we were enjoying the evening sea breeze, we heard a buzzing motor noise whirring above us. As we raised our heads toward the sky, we were transfixed by the sight of a powered paraglider hovering above the open expanse of the reserve.
This was soon followed by a second, then a third powered paraglider. All continued its eastbound journey towards Altona Coastal Park and Williamstown and soon disappeared from sight.
This is the first time I saw the sport of powered paragliding (PPG) or paramotoring in action. To me, it is like the scene of a science fiction movie playing right before my eyes. I only managed to snap two photos before losing sight of this “phenomenon”. I was somehow disappointed that the whole incidence happened too quickly.
As I was wallowing in a mood of self-deprivation, I heard the familiar buzzing noise again. The paragliders had made its way back to Altona and my disappointment turned to excitement. I aimed my camera frantically at the paragliders and shot with all my might. My enthusiasm did not succeed in slowing down the paragliders who continued to move westwards from where they came from. I decisively chased after the paragliders and in my haste, the video did not turn out well, shaky and blurry.
My wife told me she had seen powered paragliding a couple of times in Altona since then. Yesterday on the 8th of May 2018 at about 3 P.M, I had again the fortune of seeing two PPGs near the Altona Pier. However this time round, they were much higher up in the sky and appeared very small in the photos that I took with my mobile phone.
In powered paragliding, a 20-40 kg paramotor is harnessed to the back of the pilot. To prepare for takeoff, the pilot runs briefly for about 3 metres and is lifted off the ground by the inflated paraglider wing. After getting into the seat, the pilot sits suspended like a pendulum beneath the wing and controls the glider’s roll and pitch with a brake toggle and a hand-held throttle respectively. In the third video of the playlist above, you can see how the pilot prepares for takeoff from a field in Altona Meadows.
Powered paragliders fly at a speed of 25 to 72 km/h. They can fly up to 7400 metres high but usually at less than 150 metres above ground level. Powered paragliding is not safe in conditions of high winds, turbulence or intense thermal activity because of its soft wing and slow forward speed.
The PPG launched from Altona Meadows, as shown in the video above, is of the brand and model Ozone Viper. There is another model called Ozone Freeride, shown in the captivating video below, which you can get for £4,000.