Paramotoring and paragliding communities are practically the same in Estonia and similarily microlighting and hanggliding communities are mostly overlapping.
Reasons are mainly practical because on Estonian flatlands there is no much freeflying and most flying activities are motorized. So if there are some freefliers, they most probably are invoved also in motor flying.
Resulting from that, in Estonia the division of disciplines differs from usual FAI classification. There is one common Paramotoring and Paragliding Committee with active approach into competition flying. Microlights and hanggliders are represented by the same committee but they are not active in competitions. Reasons for such passivity are connected to low interest, high cost, over-regulations by EAA and non-conformity with FAI classes (self built etc.).
As a result, both CIMA delegates of Estonian NAC have paramotoring background and both are active competition pilots on local and international levels.
51 FAI Licenses were issued at 2011 to PPG pilots in Estonia.
At 2011 four competitions were organized in Estonia and two more international competitions were visited by Estonian pilots with winning results.
Unfortunately some of international competitions remained unreachable because of high expenses and travel costs involved but also because of high mandatory insurance costs (British Open).
We were successfully promoting FAI standards in Estonia but also in neighboring countries including Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.
Some local level competitions have been held in these countries before but from 2010 there were strong move towards FAI standards in comp management, rules and tasks. Meantime there were many competitions organized commonly, which were useful in resource management and to gain experience.
In addition to regional and personal development in competition activities we succeeded to progress also in competition management:
1. Task integration has been developed into new level where besides better weather planning, integrated tasks will be set up progressively, from simple to complicated. This is important to help all competing pilots but especially newcomers, to understand and to follow complicated task systems better.
With more fun and with gradual development of pilot skills and experiences this type of progressive integration will result in less stress, better atmosphere and more effectiveness in competition management.
2. New 30 p. scoring system was tested successfully with reasonable solutions to progressive scoring and to score integrated elements.
3. Fuel weighting with the bodyweight index was adopted permanently as the most fair method of scoring the economy tasks ever invented for this sport. With the use of suitable digital scales and appropriate ground plate, the accuracy of this method is undisputable, a lot of time is saved in task preparations and most importantly – safety is improved in many aspects.
PS: The same feedback has been collected from Finland Latvia and Lithuania. They all adopted this method permanently as well.
4. From the previous year’s practice of using digital cameras for navigation tasks we moved on into GPS navigation this year.
It is important to understand that the reason for digital camera navigation was simply the fact that most pilots had cameras but not GPS’s. Situation was very similar also in Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.
We had to work hard to encourage pilots to get GPS’s for every competing pilot and our efforts were successful only because the use of modern GPS has a great value not only in competitions but in everyday flying activities as well.
Thus it was possible to move on with navigation task evaluations but the next step into FR loggers will be more difficult or even impossible to achieve.
For practical and economical reasons, to keep and to encourage pilots into comp flying, many countries, maybe even most countries have to stay in normal GPS’s for scoring.
Loggers have no practical value outside FAI competitions, they are still expensive (for the use maybe only once a year) and they can easily present “the last drop” in decision making process, after all expenses calculated by a pilot, to NOT take part in FAI competitions.
Unfortunately it has been confirmed at several occasions amongst pilots of our region that most of them are not willing to invest into Amod or similar loggers. Since our association and NAC are not able to invest into this equipment either, the only solution would be renting, which again has it’s own shortcomings.
Shouldn’t we look forward, what is coming and try to keep this sport on the edge of technological development. Electronic invasion is inevitable and already out of control. Instead of more restrictions, we should move towards less restrictions.
For example, for our Paramotor Endurance Race format, we are considering seriously the legal use of IPad, Android and similar solutions with GPS and map features connected to GPS live tracking possibilities, to replace analog maps with electronic ones in flight preparation and in flights themselves, to ease up on scoring and to make all information available live on screen, TV etc. Despite high price, this privilege can be adopted easily and voluntarily because of highly practical value of this equipment both in sports and in everyday life.
Issues for improvement.
Here is a short list of some main and the most restrictive elements for many pilots to participate in comp activities and FAI competitions, according to opinions of pilots from Estonia and neighboring countries.
Too little fun.
Confusing and insufficient task briefings.
Boring and unfair economy tasks.
Too complicated nav tasks (no practical value).
Too much various restrictions, including on electronics.
Too much expenses involved (obviously).
Probably there is nothing new but, since this data is matching mostly with opinions of pilots from all around the world, still worth of considering in case one of the goals of FAI and CIMA is to attract more countries and more pilots into competition activities.
Estonian CIMA Delegate
CIMA - The international Microlight and Paramotor Commission of the FAI