2008-01-14 Update: This machine is no
longer being built.
The Para Diablo is a distinctive high hook-in
machine with a harley-esque monoshock and stylized base plate. Other innovations include a single spine for the main
frame support, a back-friendly molded gas tank that doubles for its seat back and single-pivot weight shift.
The weight shift can be quickly locked in place for those who don't want the extra movement.
Geometry and harness are like the Sky Cruiser/Blackhawk. It's a niche
machine in a niche market, retailing for about $6400 (at the time of
The unit tested used the Black Devil 172cc motor spinning a 45" x
24" 2 blade wood prop. Carabiner base to seat height was 29.3",
no-load carabiner separation was 15.5", in flight spread was 21.6". The manufacturer
says empty weight was 57 lbs, I did not weigh it.
Starting (6): Pull starting was easy with the provided hand hold and recommended stance. The T handle is
positioned for in-flight starting although I can't reliably pull start the black devil
motor in flight. Longer, stronger arms or a foot puller would probably work if the motor hadn't cooled
off too far.
The machine was stable on the ground with little tendency to tip over
in any direction.
Ground Handling & Kiting (5): Standing and walking around were comfortable. Ground handling straps kept the machine
hiked up high enough on my back to prevent feeling pulled backwards. A forward lean of about 25° kept me
upright without exertion.
Ingress was easy and the weight shift bars kept my rear off the ground while getting in and
While reverse kiting, a bar in back prevented my helmeted head from looking straight up at the
wing. I just look to the side so it was no issue. On a forward launch you would need to look
more sideways than straight up.
The manufacturer has stated that the motor has been moved an inch
closer to the pilot's back so it should improve the balance and reduce how
heavy it feels.
Launch (4): During the launch run my legs hit the baseplate although I was able to make big strides as lift came.
I'm told that taller pilots don't have this issue (I'm 5'9") and the manufacturer is modifying the baseplate to reduce this anyway.
The reason is that the baseplate creates a solid structure where many
motors have two separated vertical elements that your legs go between (but frequently still hit).
There are velcro strips securing the netting to the hoop. During the
first of two forward inflation tests the riser lines did catch on these
strips but not the second. Holding the risers wide prevented it on the
second inflation. The cage is strong enough to allow full power forwards for
even the heaviest pilots and largest wings.
Climbout (7): The thrust line is below the hang point so there
was no tendency for the upper cage to get close to the risers. Getting into the seat was easy,
I was able to wiggle into it without using a hand. Torque was very
manageable even at full power.
Flight (6): Flying the machine is very comfortable with great visibility.
Being a soft high hook-in, there is little to get in your way. This is one
reason why I prefer this style harness.
Weight Shift (9): The weight shift system on this machine is a
dream— simple and effective. It has only one moving part to accomplishing the same
thing that my multi-part geared weight shift does—when one side goes up, the other side is
forced down. I got 7" of travel (one carabiner, highest to lowest) by pushing against the ground handling strap with my shoulder, and down on that side's leg. Crossing a leg helps slightly.
Effort required to achieve that much weight shift was average.
Torque (8): is very well managed as it is on nearly all high hook-in weight shift machines that I've
flown. From power off to full power, I turned only about 5°. It was easy
to weight shift turn opposite the torque.
Thrust (7): 135 pounds estimated with smooth response throughout. Given the well-managed torque, I was able
easily to use full thrust.
Endurance (7): One advantage of the gas tank style is that it
holds a lot of fuel, 4 gallons, and it's close to the pilot which makes
the weight less objectionable. Still that's 28 pounds. Black Devil
motors are thirsty, burning probably about 1.3 gallons per hour at average
cruising power. So you'll probably get 3 hours from a full tank.
Vibration (3): There was a noticeable vibration on the back, probably due to some resonance with
the formed fuel tank that serves as your back support. The manufacturer has reportedly
addressed this problem by putting isolation mounts on the tank.
Sound (5): About average both from the ground and in flight.
Safety (5): The shock absorbing base of the machine will absorb a pretty hard
whack while protecting the motor, prop, and possibly your back (as long as
the weight shift bars hold up). Your basic butt landing won't do anything.
The gas tank is plenty far from the prop since it's in front of the spine. The base plate has an edge that
might tend to catch on ground perturbations during real low foot-drags.
For example, if it slides in the grass, it may tend to dig in as opposed to be pushed upwards.
Having hand holds would help control the motor if it accidentally goes to
power but, like most machines, the cage would not prevent a hand from hitting the prop at full thrust.
Construction (7): It is extremely well built, using T6061 aluminum with Chromolly weight shift bars and base.
Appearance was obviously important and it shows.
Reparability (6): The cage has many straight parts that should
be easily repaired. The base plate shock would seem hard to damage but, if
you pull it off, you should be able to repair them easily with parts
Transport (5): Breakdown was not demonstrated but they say it can fit in a suitcase. The center spine would be
the longest piece (38") and it looks pretty ingeniously implemented. It's likely great for shipping but more work for transporting by car where partial disassembly would be more difficult than machines who's cage pieces velcro together.
Breakdown for shipping is likely to be about 45 minutes and for car
transport, probably 10 minutes.
Overall: The machine would be a good purchase for anyone
wanting it's unique characteristics and look. It's expensive but that's to
be expected for the extra workmanship required.
2008-01-14 Their website is no longer
active and the machine is no longer being built.