As paramotor pilots, we love our engines - we know how a 2 stroke works and love to get stuck in with regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly.
The same isn't always true for our gliders...
When you buy a new wing off the shelf, it will have been made in accordance with the certified design and will have the behaviours and characteristics you would expect!
As we fly and have fun with our paramotor, it doesn't stay that way for long without regular servicing.
Paraglider lines shrink! Generally, sheathed lines shrink due to the polyester sheathing rather than the inner core, however unsheathed lines also tend do shrink.
What happens most of the time is that the least tensioned rear lines (towards the trailing edge of the glider) shrink the most and the more forward lines (leading edge) shrink the least.
This leads to an increase in angle of attack, slowing down the trim speed of the glider and meaning that we are in a higher risk of stall or spin.
If you've been flying for a while and not got your glider serviced, it would be no surprise that your mate's brand new glider flys faster and comes up much better than your wing!
Not only do our lines shrink and the glider trim changes, but the fabric also degrades due to either UV radiation, humidity, or wear & abrasions.
The first one is obvious, the more our gear is exposed to the sunlight, the more it will degrade and use up its remaining life.
Our gliders are also affected by humidity. If your gear gets wet, the best thing to do is to open it out somewhere dry (spare room for example) and it will quickly dry. Packing a damp glider away can significantly reduce its life and damage the coating on the fabric.
The last main factor in the wear of the fabric is abrasion / wear. In the UK we are lucky to use grassy fields and are not taking off in rocky / sandy areas so much but we must still take care.
No matter how careful we are, it is worth understanding how much life you have left in the glider (or how well it's been used). By checking the tear strength and the porosity of the fabric (ability to pass air through it), it is possible to determine how well used our glider is and whether there is a long life left in it.
Please make sure that you follow the manufacturers guidance and get your paramotor wing serviced regularly. There are several skilled service & repair workshops around the country, one of which (Wingtrim Paragliding Services) has been recently set up by one of our instructors, Tom, who offers a professional and thorough service.
Here are a few useful links for Wingtrim:
You can use their online booking system or call Tom on +44 7599 844 678 and he will be able to sort you out.