Wheel Options for powered paragliders: walk and roll!
Adding wheels to a paramotor can make it a whole different craft and there are many flavors. My experience suggests that transitioning to wheels is easy provided the pilot heeds some simple advice as covered in the Powered Paragliding Bible and your qualified instructor.
The variation in craft is dramatic. While the term trike suggests 3 wheels, quads are also common which have (as you figured) 4 wheels. Other variations have 5 and 6 wheels. The 8 wheel variant shown at right is too bizarre to name and, to my knowledge, I’m the only one to do it. Inline skating is another pastime of mine so it only made sense to mixed the two. I’ve not seen anyone launch while strapped to a bicycle, either.
The distinction between powered parachutes (PPC’s) and wheeled powered paragliders can blur. If the wing and throttle is hand controlled then it’s more powered paraglider. If the wing is commonly also used by foot launchers than it is more powered paraglider. Otherwise, it’s more powered parachute (PPC). For review purpose, I classify them in 3 flavors.
1) Wheel Only machines that are not intended to be foot launched. The motor, prop, and cart are integral but they attach using carabiners to a wing and riser set commonly flown by foot-launch pilots.
2) Wheel Only PPC hybrids are those requiring special wings or riser sets. The 2014 SD PPCg is an example. Although it’s wing is essentially a Prima, it hooks each separate riser set (A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s) to separate connections on the frame.
3) Cart Attachments are, by far, the most common. They attach to a foot-launch paramotor so that it can be launched with wheels.
The most important advice is to NEVER accelerate for takeoff unless the cart and wing are STABLE and tracking together. Every trike crash I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot!) has been caused by this malady. It may take great discipline to overcome the urge to launch but it’s well worth it. If the wing is oscillating, either fore/aft or left/right, abort or get it under control first—skip the hospital/repair time and pain.
When launching, the front wheel(s) must lift off first. Otherwise the front wheels can stay on the ground and cause a flipping, crashing, damaging, hospitalizing thing. Hang by the wing attachments to insure the front wheels hang higher than the rears by at least 4 inches before attempting flight.
The A’s, if required to be held, should be within easy reach. A-assists attached to the speedbar or A’s make life a lot easier.
If you have good wing handling skills, transitioning to wheels should be pretty easy. In a no-wind condition, they’re much easier. In stronger winds, not so much but significant skill can be learned to pull it off.
There are a many other tidbits, of course, in the PPG Bible and from quality wheel-launch instructors.
There are a number of attributes that determine cart characteristics. The most important are wheel base and center of gravity (CG). A wide wheelbase and low CG increase stability.
Some units have a method of self steering where the wing tends to turn the craft in the direction it’s pulling.
Some also have a method to pull the A’s during inflation (A-assists) and others have the manufacturer suggest not pulling the A’s at all although that’s going to depend more on the wing.
Sport Pilot & Wheels
Wheeled machines do not fall under sport pilot just because they have wheels. As long as they’re single place and weigh less than 254 pounds they’re ultralights and fall under FAR 103 (in the U.S.). If you have another seat then all bets are best. Here’s the status wheeled tandems under an exemption.