Set-up and Launching Tips
First learn to fly
Before you attempt to fly the Mosquito harness you must be an Hang II rated hang glider pilot with 20-30 hours of air time. Good foot-launching skills are highly desirable. Transitioning from traditional to powered hang gliding is not difficult, just different.
In preparation for your first Mosquito flight you have hopefully done your homework. The more information you have the better. Read articles, talk to other pilots and if available attend a Mosquito clinic. Pick a perfect day for your maiden launch, cooler temperatures, a steady 5-7 mph wind, a clear path in front of you for a thousand plus feet, and a buddy (or dealer) to cover for you and videotape the launch. Pick the easiest glider to fly (Falcon, etc.) since it is a good rule in aviation to only try one new thing at a time. Flying a powered harness for the first time on a high performance glider is too much of a handful for a pilot.
Differences between hill/mountain and powered harness launches
Instant altitude is practically guaranteed with a mountain launch. Utilizing the powered harness means the ground is a factor for a much longer period of time during the launch. The launch is not always going to go the way you predict, and you must be mentally prepared for an aborted take off, keep your abort options open at all times to assure maximum safety on your first launch. Don’t go with a launch that just doesn’t feel right, even for the smallest reason. The mountain launch engine is gravity, which never fails, but mechanical engines for a variety of reasons can stop running when you least expect it. Common reasons for engine failure are as benign as air bubbles in the fuel line, or (insert another common engine failure reason here, bunya). Thermal activity in your immediate vicinity can also take away your precious head wind, which is so necessary for a good launch. If you plan your launch well, any forced impromptu landing will be event free, which is the good news.
Another difference is the you move the harness in a launch attempt. The mountain launch is all pilot leg muscle in achieving the propulsion of the pilot, harness and glider. The powered harness launch requires the opposite approach. The legs simply become the landing gear and like any good landing gear they stay under the pilot until retracted into the harness at a few hundred feet. The thrust pushes the pilot along, while the pilot resists the thrust initially, in order to it double check the wing's angle of attack and to allow a smooth gradual acceleration. This constitutes an “all ducks in a row” style, unhurried foot launch.
Your First Powered Launch
With the differences between powered and mountain launches in mind, here is the perfect launch, step-by-step.
We are assuming that all the equipment has been safety checked.
• Position your glider at the end of a 2,000 foot turf runway with a 5-7mph wind directly in your face, start the engine and let it warm up for at least 5 minutes. The last 30 seconds of the warm up is a full throttle test -- you should now feel the full thrust and must lean back to hold it still.
• Set the angle of attack on the wind (a little higher than non-powered gliding), bite down on the mouth throttle and resist forward movement, let the harness move slowly under its own power, keeping the wing level and feeling for lift, which can happen in a little as 1-2 seconds with nice breeze. More challenging conditions, such as no wind coupled with high heat and humidity, can dramatically increase the launch cycle, and should only be attempted after many perfect condition launches. Don’t rush to try less than perfect conditions until you have experienced all the nuances of the foot-powered launch.
• Now pull the nose down ever so slightly to allow speed to build, while continuing to accelerate and feeling for the glider to start lifting the harness up. If you keep the nose of the glider at the perfect angle it will slowly turn your walk/run into a moon-walking experience and an average climb rate of 200-400 fpm .You'll notice your control bar position is 4-5 inches further back than non-powered flying, which is normal. In actuality, you are just hanging farther forward to balance the weight of the engine with your body weight.
The most important aspect is to keep your airspeed up. No airspeed equals no control, and no control close to the ground is potentially a busted prop. Once your feet have left the ground give the glider a few seconds to fly in ground effect (10-20 feet off the ground) to gain more speed, and then slowly climb out with a landing plan updated every 5-10 seconds in case of engine failure or a dose of sinking air. Give yourself plenty of space that allows for these options.
Once you reach an altitude of 500 feet one option is to back off the throttle to just maintain altitude and hunt for thermals. Cutting the noise level and saving fuel are two good reasons to go with this option. Thermals can be climbed with or without the engine running or the engine idling if the thermal proves to be elusive or short lived. In-flight re-starts are possible, but at altitudes under 500 feet you are not leaving yourself any time to set up for a landing. One thousand feet is a minimum good guideline for starting your engine.
How to get into trouble
A common error is jumping into the harness too early in the launch process, which usually ends with glider on the ground with a load of momentum to deal with. Early in the launch cycle the wing supports its own weight, followed by only some of the pilot's weight, as the lift hasn't been fully generated to take the full weight of the pilot. The glider will take you up but only when it is ready, and not before. Another less than ideal condition is switchy winds on the ground before take-off. If the wind direction changes in the middle of a launch it can cause confusion and sudden loss of lift. A sensible solution is to have 2 or 3 wind indicators directly in front of the pilot, and only launch if all 3 are indicating "green light" wind conditions.