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Powered Paragliding - What Goes Up ... Must Come Down

by John Black
(Colorado Springs, Co)

What goes up must come down!

What goes up must come down!

This is me John Black 2 seconds into what should have been certain death. Fortunately for me I hit a power pole on the way to the ground and sustained a broken back. I am now flying again with little effects from the crash.


"What goes up...must come down. How you come down is another story" John Black 2008

(Webmaster's note: I hesitated before deciding to publish this powered paragliding pic, not wanting to put people off the sport. John, if you see this, please contact me via the About page on this site. Let's try and get a safety lesson out of it somehow, and add that here!

Everyone else - any comments on the pro's and cons of publishing this type of image / story?)

Comments for Powered Paragliding - What Goes Up ... Must Come Down

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Canopy type?
by: Eddie

Isn't this normal for an elliptical canopy? I've heard they are nothing but squirrely.

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The Incident
by: John Black

For those of you that have seen this photo and have wondered exactly what happened here is the story.

I was having Sunday dinner with family at a local restaurant in Colorado Springs. As always i wanted to go fly but we had a few snow flurries and they had cleared out. I decided to go to a spot on Baptist Road I sometimes flew. My brother in law Jim came with me and was going to shoot some video. I set up my windsock and the wind was steady at around 8 mph so I took my glider out and began kiting the glider.

The glider was moving around quite a bit and after ten minutes I decided to pack my gear up. Well before I finished a guy came over and was interested in learning to fly. We talked for around 20 minutes and I noticed I had left my windsock up and it was looking pretty steady. I pulled out my wing and kited it and it looked pretty good. I warmed up my motor and took off climbing to 300 feet.

I immediately felt something weird in the air not really bumpy but different than I had ever felt. I decided I should land and circled back and approached the LZ. I was at about 250 when the right side and almost all of the left side of my glider deflated. I was immediately turned to the right 180 degrees and the slackness in the risers allowed them to trap my throttle to wide open. I flip up over my glider and barely escaped being gift wrapped and I fell past it.

I saw power lines below me and because the motr was wide open a slight lean to the right pushed me away from the power lines and the pendulum was swinging me towards the ground at high speed. At about 7 feet off the ground I impacted the telephone pole and you could hear the loud crack as I struck and then hit the ground. I was in alot of pain and EMS came and picked me up.

I had broken my back and was in the hospital for 5 days. I was placed in a large brace and was in bed for almost a month flat of my back. On day 29 I went to a fly in with friends still in pain and walking funny. I flew there briefly with the assistance of friends I will never forget for that!

The reason this happen was I made an error in going airborne. I believe rotor was to blame as I took off into a SE wind but in reality the wind was coming over the Front Range from the West. I failed to check WX Brief as was my habit. If had not skipped this step I wouldn't have even been at the LZ to make the decision.I teach PPG now and I show my students this video and tell them all of the knowledge in the world will do you no good if you do not have a reliable process to fly and utilize it. Most accidents are avoidable and this one was definitely the pilots fault! Thank you for listening and safe flights to you all.

John Black
Freedom Flight Center
855-Fly-1Now
John Black

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A LOT LEARNT
by: Anonymous

We learn from our mistakes, although the conditions were just right for a flop. Thank the Lord above He was watching over John Black - the best flight instructor I know. DT.

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Here is the PPG Radio Interview with John Black and Chris Santacroce
by: Adam

http://www.poweredparaglidingradio.com/archives/2008/2008-01-15-show.mp3

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Nothing learnt
by: piloto

What is the reason? It is very useful for others.

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Whats the point
by: Anonymous

The image is fine but stalled/hit big thermal flying in the wrong conditions there is no explanation there for no reason to show o knowledge has o results = nothing learnt

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collapsed wing
by: Anonymous

My question is " why did this happen in the first place?" Darren -Connecticut Paragliding School

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Picture
by: Anonymous

Posting this pic doesnt do anyone any good without the story behind it. What happened?

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Effect On The Sport
by: Tim P.

Point taken, Samson. For now, its low rating (number of stars) will keep it down at the bottom of the list. Hence, it will get much less exposure after it drops off the site blog page.

If I eventually get a response from John, the pilot involved, I'll update the story that goes with the photo.

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Usefulness Of Accident / Incident Report
by: Samson

Any accident or incident with an explanation from someone with good flying background present on the spot will always help the flying community.

Publishing pictures without a report may harm the sport.

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Could Be Informative
by: Daddy Bruce

Yes, as noted on the other comments, this could be a good opportunity for someone to learn something from this event/accident.

Whenever I come across videos/photos of things going wrong, I try to examine it as closely as possible to ascertain what may have occurred as a chain of events prior to the mishap. I would much rather learn from someone else's mistakes than my own!

A detailed step-by-step of this flight would be appreciated by others like me, I'm sure.

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Ditto
by: Tim P.

Yes Kestrel, my thoughts exactly! To take it a stage further, how will he prevent it from happening again...

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Background / Lessons
by: Kestrel

Rotor? Equipment failure? Stall? It would be nice to learn something about the events leading to the photo and power-pole catch.

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