You have probably wondered why the paramotor range is even important right? Since the main aim should be to take off, cruise the air and land smoothly on safe ground.
For several reasons such as taking destination bound flights and participating in competitive paramotoring sport as the Icarus, having a good knowledge of the distance coverable at a specific time on your paramotor is important.
In this post, we will be checking out these factors that determine our paramotor range, the expected paramotor range, how to improve our present paramotor range, the ideal conditions that support this range, and how these factors play out with wheeled paramotors.
Factors That Define the Paramotor Range
Several important factors play roles in helping us achieve two main things: getting to our destination and saving resources while doing that. They come in from the beginning of our choice of flight equipment such as the engine and wings purchased to what we do prior to flight such as checking for weights, during the flight and on how the weather affects our journey.
Getting in the know on how to use this equipment after setup and the conditions they function best within, most especially for the wing types are vital points to be discussed. You would not want to be caught mid-air by the knowledge that you are attempting to hot rod through turbulent weather with small wings! And trust me a large grin on the face won’t fix that.
Bringing everything into place would be the way you fly to obtain that distance, speed and time you are aiming for. Let’s make this a smoothly blended journey, not a chopped one, shall we?
With lots of choices on the engine type to get, which are mainly categorized into three: Electric engines, 2-stroke engine, and the 4-stroke engine, these should not be a hassle with the aim we have in mind. We will tick off the ones not appropriate for our journey type with the right knowledge.
First off, the electric motor engine is a “No-no”. This engine is limited by its battery power for a flight time of about 10 hours. Remember, we are aiming for a good paramotor range.
Next up are the two mechanical engines, for this, we will be considering the engine type that is fuel-efficient with long-lasting time rather than just more power. So it is basically a choice between a fuel-consuming engine that yields power and a fuel-efficient engine that doesn’t yield that much power, enough to get you hot rodding to your destination.
The 4-stroke engine would clearly produce more power since it requires less rev to achieve as much as the 2-stroke engine. There’s a but to this. Even with the power yielded and the low fuel consumed at less rpm, the size of the 4-stroke engine required to give the same power or more than a 2-stroke engine is outrageous, and a smaller sized 4-stroke engine needed to match the fuel-efficient 2-stroke engine would yield less power.
This leaves us with the 2-stroke engine based on the tips we’ve highlighted: fuel efficiency, power, and size. An engine cannot have all the properties in the same proportion.
For instance, the Mini plane Top 80 2-stroke engine will give you the best fuel consumption rate so far at 1.5 to 2.5 liters per hour at an average power, giving you almost 10 hours flight time. This means the fuel burned in this 2-stroke engine is used completely and efficiently for every distance covered compared to other typical engines which consume about 4 liters per hour.
What Wing Types Would Help
When going for a wing type, there are four things to consider: the glide ratio, drag, wing size, and its speed through the wind. A good wing glide ratio would require less thrust to stay afloat mid-air, resulting in low fuel consumption. A low drag will aid forward momentum with ease and also reduce the power needed and fuel consumption.
Understanding the weather condition of one’s fly area is important in determining your choice of wing size. A large-sized wing will be more efficient for turbulent weather than a small one, and a small-sized wing is suitable for a fly area with calm cool weather.
In choosing the wing, its size, the ease of launch and landing on the ground should also be taken into consideration. Launching with a really small wing would give one a hard time, as the needed lift for your weight might not be produced enough for the takeoff. You might also be looking at experiencing a really fast landing speed than is needed, which would require rough handling, an increased fuel consumption rate and more work stress on your equipment.
So far we have gotten on the needed features of a wing based on its glide ratio, drag, and size.
Next up is the speed, yes! Paramotoring is fun with well controllable speed on-flight at a much safer pace. Compared to the standard wing, a reflex wing is faster and much safer. It is most suitable for turbulent weather due to its reflex airfoil, which changes the point of lift on the wing. Its distinct feature from that of the standard wing is its shape.
How the Wind Affects Your Paramotor Range
With paramotor being an air sport, the wing effect is one that cannot be overlooked. Putting it into consideration, an understanding of the wind direction and its speed around the fly area helps in determining the paramotor range obtainable.
Launching into the wind from the ground, the speed will be slow as compared to flying with the wind at an mph, where the ground speed will be fast and a good range will be covered.
So when planning a trip, it will be good to understand the wind pattern to enable you to chart out your flight route, taking detours into consideration if needed with a good wind in support, giving you a very good paramotor range.
Your Way of Flight Will Make a Difference
Keeping our two main aims for the trip into perspective: conserving fuel and covering the needed distance, the way one fly would help determine if it would be achievable.
The best way to achieve these aims would be to conserve fuel by launching into about 500 feet and maintaining a straight line flight. This would also mean cutting off unnecessary activities such as ascending, descending and taking turns. Engaging in such activities unnecessarily would mean more thrust or power would be needed on flights, leading to more fuel consumption and less for forwarding momentum to cover the distance ahead.
It might sound boring to maintain such straight-line journey, but it’s either this or you get ready to cut your journey into bits forwarding.
Should You Be Concerned About Weight?
This should be a yes and no answer. Yes, you should in terms of the quality of your proposed flight and no, you shouldn’t if you are concerned about weight completely slowing down your journey and thus, not getting you a good paramotor range.
When noting the weight effect for a flight, we should note the weight of the pilot, equipment, wings, and engine. In relation to a paramotor range, the speed and time of a flight are affected by weight.
Since the speed is proportional with the paramotor range covered, a higher speed would yield greater paramotor range and vice versa. It is normal to believe that the heavier the weight on a flight, the slower the flight. But this is not completely the case. A heavyweight can only make the launch weight outrageously high, especially for tandem paramotors. Aside from the takeoff, more weight basically means more speed, and range with a slight drag.
Also, the paramotor type matters as wheeled paramotors have high speed on flight compared to foot-launched paramotors.
The only weight type that tends to negatively affect the speed is the weight of the tandem wing due to the slight drag that comes with it. It should be noted that with a heavy paramotor comes more fuel consumption on flight compared to other types of paramotor.
Thus, it is advisable that the weight of the flight be balanced in the right dimension (to the back of the paramotor) while taking into cognizance the weight of the pilot, the equipment and the wing.
The Expected Paramotor Range
To get in the know on the expected paramotor range, we would have to take into perspective the type of paramotor engine in use (in this case, we will use the Miniplane Top 80), this will enable us to account for the fuel consumption expected per hour (1.5 to 2.5 liters per hour) and then the speed of journey.
This range would be under ideal conditions involving zero wind for an easy lift, a strictly straight-line journey with no tricks or turns and the maintaining of between 400 to 600 feet climb all through. These are ideal conditions for a powerful paramotor range.
Of course! The wind will get off zero mph during flight time and turns might be mandatory along a flight route, thus, an estimated paramotor range expected should not be stuck to due to expected changes on flight conditions.
On a Top 80 engine with a fuel capacity of 14.5 liters, a speed of about 30 mph and fuel consumption of 1.5 liters per hour, the expected paramotor range is more than 200 miles (290 miles).
Here’s how the calculation for the miles on flight went down (a foot-launched paramotor):
14.5 liters/1.5 liters * 30 mph = 290 miles.
For trike paramotors, the expected paramotor range would differ for several reasons, which we will be discussing below.
Here’s the estimated calculation for the miles on a trike:
21 litres/4.5 litres * 35mph = 163 miles.
This mile applies to a hybrid trike or quad paramotor as a Blackhawk lowboy with a 4-stroke engine as an intruder 250 CC which has a fuel tank capacity of about 21 liters, its fuel consumption rate is 4.5 liters per hour at a speed of 35 mph. From this paramotor, we should look at getting a paramotor range of about 163 miles on a single fuel tank.
Ways to Get Better Paramotor Range
To get an improved paramotor range we had earlier highlighted that maintaining strictly a 500 feet straight-line flight and avoiding turns, climbs, and tricks would help save fuel for more forward momentum and greater paramotor range.
Having understood our expected paramotor range to be around 290 miles on a single fuel tank, it is normal to get excited about exceeding the expected range within a period of time. It is also obvious that fuel capacity is the limiting factor on a paramotor range.
Therefore, aside from those discussed earlier on conserving fuel capacity, other ways of improving the paramotor range revolve around increasing the fuel capacity on a flight.
The first option would be to carry an extra fuel tank (fuel bladder) for an in-flight refueling a few hours after the regular tank has been exhausted. The size of the bladder depends on the weight of the flight calculated.
Another option would be to make stops by refueling points of stations on the ground of the flight route and then continue the flight from each with a filled tank. This method would come in handy for long-distance paramotoring and competitions. Interestingly, this method has been used to set a world record on longest distance covered at more than 9,000 km in 90 days.
The Advantages of Paramotor Trikes
An amazing way to increase one’s paramotor range without giving up on the needed power for momentum is in the use of a wheeled paramotor.
The wheeled paramotor is not limited by weight as would the foot-launched paramotor. It has the ability to support heavy weight pilots and has a large fuel tank capacity. This helps its increased flight time and paramotor range.
Although all factors we have discussed as effects on the paramotor range of a foot-launched paramotor applies to the wheeled paramotor, most trikes and quads can take more than the standard 5 hours of the foot-launched paramotor. But there is an exception for wheeled paramotors with fitted engines built for heavyweights because a high amount of fuel is burnt for thrust and its high rpm, leading to a decreased fuel amount available for the distance ahead and thus, a shorter flight time.
Now that you’re aware of what it entails to obtain an improved paramotor range with different paramotor types, making choices on your equipment specifics should be more relaxing. Good luck with that!
Would you like to learn more about the world of paramotoring? Check out our other posts here!