Scout is a new entrant on the paramotor market but with great innovation on several fronts. It is being imported by Shane Denherder, Jeff Toll, and Byron Leisek under the name Scout Paramotor USA.
This is a truly innovative machine that has advanced the art beyond just streamlining a standard cage. Most notably the addition of SafeStart and aerodynamic torque compensation. Compensation works by shaping the radial arms as airfoils at an angle that imparts a torque opposite to prop spin. It is *not* a gimmick, reducing resultant torque by 30 to 50% at the source. Brilliant. Makes me wonder why I never thought of this.
It also has a ground adjustable prop which I’ve flown on other units. The idea being that, if you’re doing maneuvering like competition, decrease the pitch slightly for faster motor response at the expense of slightly higher fuel burn. If you’re flying cross country, especially on a fast wing, increase the pitch for better economy.
The fact that it looks cool doesn’t hurt.
Weight: 55 pounds according to the maker with coming mods to pull another 2 pounds out of that. The unit I tested has an under-seat mounted reserve that weighed probably 7 pounds including hardware and I flew it with about 10 pounds of gas.
Harness & Suspension: It’s a low hookin system that uses underarm S-bars with weight shift. Your back rests against a knurled padded piece. It would benefit from a bit more padding and some may prefer a flat back. This reminds of those beaded seat add-ons that I’ve seen in some cabs so clearly some people like it. I’m told that future harnesses are coming with more padding although I found it sufficiently padded.
This model did not have an upper chest strap which they are adding on this machine and all future ones. Easy fix. I added my own strap since the motor can otherwise fall off your shoulders during the early part of launch before wing lift takes over.
The frame bottom is adjustable which serves as a sort of Kickstand. You can use it to get into the machine without bending over but even for my scrawniness it wasn’t hard to get up with at all. I flew it one notch in from fully extended. If you launch at full extension it may hit your legs while running but you can retract it while standing. I set the ground handling straps to hike the motor up high on my back which made it comfortable to ground handle with and avoid hitting my legs while running for launch.
Starting: The recoil starter is well placed for ground or inflight starting. The machine was very secure on the ground with no tendency to tip at all. If you retract the frame bottom too much then it would likely want to tip over forward. I was able to do an in-flight restart so, if the motor is warm, you could start it on your back.
Ground Handling & Kiting: Better than average for its weight. Easily hiked up high on back using ground handling straps. I did a fair amount of ground handling without the motor running just to make sure I was well familiar before launching. It was not fatiguing even at my scrawny weight.
Launch: Normal for a low hook-in system. Seat was real easy to get into after takeoff, mostly scooping me up after liftoff but without impeding my run, even with the reserve there. I suspect it would be slightly easier without the reserve since the seat would go back flush against the frame. A partial power forward was brainless with the lines sliding up nicely along the smooth cage rim.
The cage frame has an extendable bottom which was extended all the way. It looks like it might hit your legs but did not on me. Even if it did, leaving it at a more retracted setting would solve the problem.
Climbout: Excellent. This would be a tandem capable machine. With its effective torque control, though, even lightweight pilots should have no problem using full power.
I never go to full power right away when trying a machine for the first time, but at altitude I did so many times, going from idle to full power and found it very manageable. If they offset one riser by just one inch to the right, it would probably all-but cancel torque steer even at climb power but may induce a slight weight shift turn to the left at idle power. Always a trade off. VERY well managed as is.
Flight: Comfy with plenty of adjustments to get the hang angle right. Average throttle response of just over 1 second, no cruise control, comfortable DK style grip. The starter is positioned for easy inflight restart which I did. Don’t count on that restart if the motor has cooled down very far, though. For that, you’d want electric start.
Weight Shift: Easy and effective, with about 6 inches of riser travel. There are alternative bars that make the hang points even lower but I did not get to try them. That’s OK, I generally find that style to have more fore/aft tilt with power changes than I like.
Torque: VERY well managed. This is really the biggest deal and I was a bit skeptical about how effective air redirection would be. Others had reported minimal torque but I’m 136 pounds. If it’s gonna twist, it’s gonna twist on me. The verdict is clearly in–it works! reducing torque by 30 to 50 percent. That’s huge. I still twisted (yaw) some but it was less than every other machine I’ve flown except for Alex Varv’s.
Mind you there is no offset to the risers which is how most makers (including Alex’s machine) do it. I was able to weight shift turn against the torque with weight shift alone pretty handily even at full power. I’d love to see them add some riser offset which, I suspect, would nearly eliminate even what torque steer is present, mostly for lightweights like me. The FlyHalo guys do acro on it and prefer a centered system but for us more benign flyers the offset would be no problem.
More On The Innovative Anti Torque
Airfoil shaped radial arms redirect thrust to counter between 30 and 50% of the propeller torque. Aero shapes are far less draggy than tubes so, the drag of redirecting airflow is almost certainly less than the drag of standard tubes.
Also, by countering torque directly, the machine reduces weight shift effect―that means less weight shift turn to the right. You’ll still feel it some, probably about half as much machines without aero compensation. This is a test you can easily do on the ground. Sadly I forgot to try.
Another test I’d love to see done (and I had the smoke bombs but got caught up in just flying), would be to put a smoke bomb a few feet in front of the cage and film the results. Later.
Thrust: It’s a very powerful unit, probably in the 150+ pound class and the power is easily usable. Throttle response was, the time from idle to full power was average to slightly faster and smooth throughout the range. It would be a great competition machine.
Endurance: No fuel flow test, the largish tank would probably give 2+ hours if you don’t mind hefting all the weight..
Vibration: Mostly average vibration, at cruise RPM it was slightly less vibration than my reference machine, a Blackhawk with Black Devil 172.
Sound: Average. There was no tone that stood out even at full power. As usual, most of the noise is propeller based.
Safety: It comes with SafeStart which, in my opinion, dramatically reduces the chances for a prop contact injury during start. The device stays on, monitoring the motor only during start. If it goes to a dangerous RPM within 4 seconds of start, SafeStart shuts the motor down. This happened to me when I forgot about it and throttled up right away. Scout says it is making SafeStart it available for other manufacturers as well as for retail.
The prop is almost enclosed by the wide outer hoop so it will be reasonably resistant to getting lines in the prop. It is also fairly far from the netting but the netting is far too lose to keep a hand out of the prop. However, SafeStart reduces prop contact risk dramatically.
Te pull starter pulley was well positioned to hold the machine firmly.
The gas tank bottom curves away from the prop giving it over 6″ of clearance. This will hugely reduce the risk of a punctured gas tank and potential fire (which has happened twice on other machines).
The harness comes with a under-seat mounted reserve so that pilots can reach it with either hand. The one I flew did have a reserve there and it did not impeded running enough to be a bother.
Overall this machine meets more safety goals than any other machine I’ve tested.
Construction (-): The main frame is well built with aluminum which is harder to weld than steel but easier than Titanium. The cage is made up by 6 identical radial arms (they call them spars) and 5 hoop sections. The various Carbon Fiber parts were extremely well fitted. There were cracks on the vertical radial arms (spars) where they inserted in the frame and the makers already have a solution for this unit and others. We made a temporary fix that worked fine.
There are five identical cage rim pieces attached to a riveted net. The netting is made of very strong but thin dyneema (low drag) material. Netting attaches to the rim via small dyneema loops that are riveted into the carbon fiber so drilling out the rivets will not damage the netting, just the small replaceable loops.
I asked the manufacturer about replacing a rim section and he responded: “If netting has to be replaced, it can be knotted on the loops, but this is however a boring and long job. The other option is to drill out the rivets and put new loops + rivets. If ring section has to be replaced: cut the loops and the netting will remain undamaged. New ring section will come with empty holes, loops and 2.4mm black rivets. So it is a quick and easy job.”
Reparability (-): The radial arms and hoop sections are carbon fiber so repairs will be easy if you’re well versed on working with that material, impossible if you’re not. The genius of the machine is in its airfoil radial arms which I would just assume will need to be replaced instead of repaired although they should be no harder to work on than props. Being all identical helps with expense if you want to have some spares on hand.
The frame is steel so it will be easily repairable.
Transport (-): Excellent. It reduces down to a particularly small size since the frame bottom retracts by about a foot. The four identical cage rim pieces fit together in a compact manner and the radial arms pop off pretty easily. I watched the disassembly and, once you get the first one off (that did take some effort), the rest came off easliy.
It comes in a pull-along suitcase with chloroplast interior sides. I wouldn’t dream of shipping in this container myself but apparently it survived an overseas trip that way.
Overall: Very nice. Experienced pilots will really appreciate the balance of comfort, power, weight, size and handling. For beginners who insist on starting with low hookins, this is a good choice given the well-managed torque compensation. It’s great to see this level of innovation.