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Paramotor Kit Review: SkyBolt

Updated 02-19-2007 | Ratings: 1 is bad, 10 is good | Review of SkyBolt Paramotor

July 15, 2009 Note: This review was done for version 1. A newer plan, version 2, is easier to build and requires far fewer special parts. These version 2 plans will again be available on PPGPLans.com soon.

This is the plans-built machine featured in the Powered Paragliding Bible. It is one of 3 viable paramotor kits that I've seen for someone wanting to start from scratch. It comes with excellent support and there are numerous machines flying out in the field. These are the reasons are why recommend it here on Footflyer.com. I make no money on the sale of the plans and/or hardware kits. But I believe in it.

Whatever you do, skip the "Easy Up" scam. They advertise heavily to snare unsuspecting marks into buying obsolete plans. I go to a LOT of events and have never even an Easy Up built, let alone fly. I have flown and seen numerous (probably 5) SkyBolts being flown at various fly-ins. 

There are other viable  kit-built options on the market but only the Skybolt has a plans-to-ppg solution that I'm aware of. If there's any doubt, go to the most active newsgroup on yahoo about paramotoring and type in plans. 

How Is It To Build

The beauty of this system is that the primary skill is bending aluminum tube. For one thing, aluminum tube bends easily. Another is that the included DVD shows exactly what you need to do and how to use the few tools required. Full sized plans help, too.

There appear to be very few "tricky" parts although making your own connectors will take some time. I'd definitely buy the hardware kit if able unless you're pretty well equipped with at least some basic machining tools.

How Much Will It Really Cost

The plans are $95 and come with a detailed DVD to guide you through the building process. If you buy the hardware kit, tube (the DVD/plans tell you where and what to buy), netting, tanks, throttle and other miscellany, it will cost around $1200. Where to buy all this is given in the plans.

The engine will be your biggest purchase. The plans show how to adapt the most common current paramotors including the Black Devil 172, RDM 100, Simonini M2, Solo 210 and several others. A used Solo 210 can be had for about $500 and a new Black Devil costs about $2300 so there's a lot of variety here. 

Construction Time

Assuming you have the hardware kit, expect to spend probably 80 hours to have a completely flyable machine if you're of average handiness. That includes time on the phone, internet, and pondering of the navel that goes on during such projects. 

Making the 80 or so connectors/misc will probably take another 30 hours between setup, learning curve and actual milling. That is why the connector/hardware kit that includes those parts is so valuable!

Weight

14 pounds for the frame alone, 24 pounds with fuel tank and harness and 66 pounds with a Cors-Air Black Devil motor including prop. Enough fuel for an hour of flying will add another 8 pounds. Unlike airplane kits which can easily get heavier depending on build technique, there's not much room for that here. These are the weights you can expect if you buy the specified materials..  

Support

This may be the single biggest benefit is that there is a real pilot, actually quite a few, who have built and fly these machines. The designer himself answers questions, primarily through email for time's sake, and many others will answer questions on the Skybolt Builders Yahoo forum.  This is incredibly valuable, you can read about it and ask questions of those who have actually built or fly the SkyBolt!

Skybolt800.jpg (169675 bytes)

Prototype Skybolt in flight with Cors-Air 172 engine mounted. The current model has a curved bottom that almost makes cage dragging fun. OK, just kidding, don't do any cage dragging. Really.

 

 

Skybolthardware1web.jpg (33913 bytes)

Hardware kit includes the most difficult to make parts. Courtesy PPGplans.com.

 

 


Remember, If there's air there, it should be flown in!