First the why.

On larger paramotor engines, pull starters rely on flywheel action of the prop to pull through the their strong compression. That works because these units have a belt-driven prop. If you want to put a clutch on these bigger machines, that doesn’t work since the prop is longer connected directly to the engine.

There are at least 3 possible solutions. 

  • A powerful-enough electric starter and the battery to appease it.
  • An actual flywheel. But that would violate the prime-directive of paramotor promotion: more weight.
  • A flash starter.

Flash Starter

A flash starter works by having two springs. As you pull, one spring is winding up another spring that, once it reaches enough tension, will power through compression and start the engine. That’s a perfect world. And indeed, for some people, they seem to work pretty well.

Then there’s me.

I’ve had countless people offer up their flash-starter equipped machine and I couldn’t start it.  Usually they’re sold with the idea of being able to start them on your back which is much safer. And there’s always “a technique.” I never needed that on my regular pull starters. Even on the black devils I owned I was able to start them easily enough.

There was the time at a fly-in where a seller offered up one of his latest wares and I headed out for multiple flights. I landed out and shut off the motor to see if it continued to be as easy as the first time. Nope. Couldn’t get it started. I walked back. Uggh.

That same drill has played out on other occasions although I can usually get it started by taking the motor off and starting it on the ground while facing it (more dangerous) where I have full travel.