After getting my tandem wheel launch rating in Feb, 2019, I’m looking for a rig. My primary goal is introducing prospective pilots to paramotoring, or to show interested pilots the finer points of control–both how much is there and then how to use it.

Living on a grass runway means that I have plenty of nice surface and a hangar to store it in but I still may transport it on a small open trailer.

A prospective machine MUST:

  • Have front steering for the student. It’s for training, after all–I need to have students steer when they’re ready. Surprisingly, many units don’t have this (above right).
  • Have basic structural safety. That includes being able to absorb a firm landing, some protection in a rollover, not abrade the risers or other supports, and have no obvious structural deficiencies.
  • Be ergonomic. That means comfortable for me and the student, allow easy reach of all controls, and be reasonably easy to get in and out of.
  • Have good handling on the ground and in flight. That includes effective torque mitigation, A-assists, low enough wing connection for a useful brake range, and generally be predictable.
  • Fit on a 5 x 8 trailer.
  • Have enough guts to climb at least 200 fpm with a takeoff weight of 400 lbs.

I’d LIKE it to:

  • Use a 4-stroke motor. I’m tired of being a 2-stroke mechanic. My observation is that the generator-based four strokes have less maintenance issues. Power is less for the same weight so it may be tough.
  • Tilt the motor enough to minimize wing ruffling at idle. They all do it some but a few really blow the wing around. I’ve seen at least oneĀ 
  • Have front occupant protection. All tandem machines that I’ve seen are inadequate in this area so a collision will harm the student most. Uggh.
  • Nosewheel steering for the instructor with enough leverage to easily overpower unwanted student inputs.
  • Allow egress while loaded in case it flips. Buckles should be able to unclip under tension.
  • Have electric start.
  • Have a remote secondary kill switch, presumably tied to the master switch and accessible from my seat. I’m guessing this is common on electric start units. If the kill switch fails, you reach over, uncover the guard (dreaming about a switch guard?) and shut off the motor.

Quad or Trike

I slightly prefer quads but only if they have car-type front steering (like pictured right) where each front wheel turns independent of the other. I’m not fond of the ubiquitous center-pivot quad steering where the entire front axle moves. If one wheel hits a hole, it can impart a huge steering input in that direction. Plus they’re a bit heavier owing to the extra wheel and material.

The fact that no such quads are being sold suggests they they’re too expense, heavy, too complex, fragile, or who knows what else. It means that I’ll almost certainly end up with a trike. I HAVE flown a machine like this but it an Australian solo unit.