You get four vehicles in one when you choose the powered parachute called Para-Ski. The name comes from the fact that you can swap wheels for skiis. With the correct selection this will permit zooming around – without a wing – on either water or snow, giving Para-Ski year ’round thrills. What interests pilots, of course, is the ability to install a powered parachute and go aloft. But even in this airborne environment, Para-Ski offers more versatility. You can exchange the bag wing for a rag wing and, using some changed mount hardware, the Para-Ski become a trike ultralight as well. Para-Ski is just full of differences, for example, its use of four wheels versus the more typical tri-gear favored by most other power parachute builders. Para-Ski feels this gives the machine more stability during takeoffs and landings and sure enough, when the canopy pulls to one side, I’ve seen company pilots keep the machine tracking straight on only two wheels (a tough maneuver with a three-wheeled model).
Phone: (514) 474-7272Mascouche, QC J7K 3N9 - Canada
|Empty weight||340 pounds|
|Gross weight||820 pounds|
|Canopy Span||40 feet|
|Canopy Area||555 square feet|
|Canopy Loading||1.5 pounds/sq ft|
|Standard engine||Rotax 582|
|Power||65 hp at 6,500 rpm|
|Power loading||12.6 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||30 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||600 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||150 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||50 feet|
|Standard Features||4-wheel powered parachute/trike/airboat/ATV, ground- and in-air handlebar steering (front wheels, split rudder and canopy), thumb throttle with friction lock, 3-blade composite prop, 8-gallon fuel tank, instruments (tach, water temp), in-flight adjustable trim, split rear rudder, gravel shield/prop guard, 6-point parachute hookup, parachute storage under padded seats, 2-point lap seat belts.|
|Options||Rotax 503, Rotax 618, electric start, 656-square-foot canopy (425- or 454-square-foot canopy for single-seater), rear-wheel brakes (wheels/skis), snow skis, aluminum floats with water rudders, water-deflecting skirt, cover, 6-blade composite prop, trike wing attachment. EIS engine monitor system.|
|Construction||Welded T1026 aluminum frame (no nuts/bolts, all panels riveted), zero-porosity ripstop nylon canopy.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Unique design among powered parachutes (or most aircraft) in that it can be used as a ground vehicle or air vehicle with a choice of two wing types (canopy or trike wing). Very sturdily built. Judging from full demonstration videotape, Para-Ski achieves its multiple-use goals very well.
Cons - Versatile as it is, the Para-Ski won't deliver the flying qualities that fixed-wing enthusiasts may desire (although the choice of wings considerably broadens its flying characteristics). Not available as a kit to lower cost.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Several systems can be added to basic aircraft which is otherwise simply assembled. Floats and skis can be joined with brakes and an electric start system. In other ways, though, the Para-Ski is quite basic like most powered parachutes. Access to all components for inspection and repair is excellent.
Cons - Did not see a trike wing application where trim might be available. Brakes weren't fitted (and are hardly needed for flying operations, although I think they'd be very valuable for ground operations with no wing).
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Very easy entry and exit (a special feature of this new X-treme model). Surrounding fuselage offers some protection from the elements. Seats were more comfortable than they looked and allow room for two generous-sized occupants (2-seater XS model). Seat bottoms flip up to reveal a large storage space where parachute wing can be stored.
Cons - Though enclosed on the lower half, you are still easily chilled if conditions are cool. Seats have no contour shape and may not remain comfortable for longer flights (changes in this feature are planned). Lap seat belts only are a negative in my mind. No aft seat controls.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Arguably, the Para-Ski's greatest strength is its ground handling. To prove the point, the company video shows the craft zooming around on many surfaces. Ground handling controls are quite intuitive and easy to operate; significantly better than most powered parachutes, in my opinion. Visibility is absolutely huge.
Cons - Taxiing appears to take more muscular effort than rudder pedal steering on the best tri-gear or taildragger fixed-wing aircraft (though I did not operate the Para-Ski myself). No other negatives.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Rigging system to the canopy wing done at six points, which appears to aid takeoff and landing. Company video shows engine-off and engine-idle landings that look very tame (of course, canopy size is a big help in powered parachute operations - two sizes are offered). Trike wing operations look very typical of that type of aircraft. Visibility, as in virtually all powered parachutes, is one of the great strengths of this ultralight.
Cons - With the canopy wing, the Para-Ski has the typical powered parachute restriction for crosswind operations - although the machine's four-wheel construction appears to give some advantage. No slips or flaps to aid approach angle (admittedly not vital in canopy wing operations).
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - More intuitive controls are beneficial to operation by pilots with conventional training (assuming you've ridden a snowmobile or bicycle). Rudder appears to add control authority in air and water operations (though not ground operations). It links via a push-pull cable.
Cons - Rigging system of handlebar to rudder pedals looks daunting to adjust should that become necessary (the Para-Ski comes ready-to-fly, however.) No aft seat controls to permit standard 2-place instruction (though this is common on powered parachutes).
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Speeds for ground-only operations are strong (35 to 40 mph on ground or water, and 80 mph on snow skis). Takeoff and landings can be done in very small spaces. Choice of two canopy wing sizes will change operating envelope somewhat to suit customers' desires. Climb is strong - about 1,000 fpm according to factory. Low and slow flying is the strength it usually is on powered parachutes.
Cons - In-flight speeds are typically powered parachute slow - although (1) this may be the precise objective of some pilots and (2) a trike wing will considerably broaden the speed range.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - As powered parachute enthusiasts say, "If you lose the engine, well, you're already under canopy." Factory says stall is "resistant," though the company videotape says it can't happen. Very small landing area requirements aid safety, and videotape shows engine-out landings that look very mild. Strong carriage will help poor landings.
Cons - Lap belts only are typically a negative. Powered parachutes are somewhat vulnerable to erratic pilot operation of the throttle which can cause a swinging under canopy wing.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Significant payload - the Para-Ski can carry more than its own weight. Two-seater comes with Rotax 582 standard (an extra cost on some 2-seat ultralights). Single-seat VX model easily qualifies for Part 103 with canopy wing. Design protects prop in air, ground and water operations. Storage, breakdown and transport are simple (a pickup truck will do).
Cons - Price is higher than other powered parachutes (though the Para-Ski is sold ready-to-fly). Price may change somewhat due to exchange rate differences (the Para-Ski is made in Canada). Not widely supported with U.S. distribution network.
Taking a broader view, this is similar to other forms of aviation. One only need look at airliners. From the outside, they’re virtually identical except in size, and for good reason. Airliner designers have discovered the optimal ways to build jets that accomplish their narrowly defined mission of speedy transportation. On the light end, essentially the same can be said for trikes, or for that matter, for most types of ultralights. Fortunately, however, the purpose of fun aircraft remains widely varied, and that forces an interesting assortment of sport flying machines. In this month’s Ultralight Flying! Pilot’s Report, we’ll look closely at the Para-Ski powered parachute. I believe you’ll agree it stands apart from the rest. Versatility a Goal Para-Ski International describes their machines as “the ultimate ATV/ASV (all terrain/all season vehicle).” It may sound like a big boast, but I think you’ll see Para-Ski may be able to honestly earn the title.