Only three weeks earlier, our nation had endured wrenching emotion from the September 11 attacks. But life must go on. So Powrachute of Columbus, Kansas, went on with its third annual Extravaganza. One look at the grounds promised that this was to be no ordinary company fly-in. Most of them resemble a family picnic; this one looked like an airshow. For the 2001 Extravaganza, Powrachute reported an attendance of 5000 spectators. Greeting them in this year of uncertainty was a beautifully airbrushed bald eagle against an American flag backdrop. The art took up 15,600 square feet of the flying field. Mass Launch Extravaganza participants came from 29 states plus Canada, and they brought 215 aircraft. Much like the giant hot-air balloon fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Powrachute gathering provided a great photo opportunity to capture the large and colorful wings of aviation’s newest segment. On one occasion during the four-day event, a launch of powered parachutes put 80 of them in the air in 20 minutes.
Powrachute Corporation PC2000
Phone: (574) 286-9670Hastings, MI 49058 - USA
|Seating||2, staggered-height tandem|
|Empty weight||396 pounds1|
|Gross weight||793 pounds|
|Canopy Span||36.8 feet1|
|Canopy Area||500-550 square feet 2|
|Canopy Loading||1.6 pounds per square foot|
|Kit type||Fully Assembled2or kit|
|Build time||30 hours|
|Notes:||1 With B-box gear drive and without options, empty weight is 361 pounds.|
2Choice offered between Performance Design and Quantum brand canopies.
|Standard engine||Rotax 582|
|Power||65 hp at 6,500 rpm|
|Power loading||12.2 pounds per hp|
|Cruise speed||26-30 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||900 fpm, max|
|Takeoff distance at gross||150 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||100 feet|
|Min Sink Rate||600 fpm|
|Glide Ratio||4:1, max|
|Standard Features||Rotax 582 with B-box gear drive, dual CHT, EGT, tachometer, and instrument pod, 4-point seat belts, strut suspension, pull starter, powder coating in a variety of colors, nose fender, rudder trim locks, 10-gallon fiberglass fuel tank, canopy bag, 3-blade composite prop.|
|Options||Rotax 582 with E-box gear drive, electric starter, strobe, Super EIS and instrument pod, dry cell battery, 12-volt power supply, quick-connect wiring harness, line socks, oversize canopy bag, ceramic chrome exhaust.|
|Construction||Aluminum tubing, 4130 steel tubing, aluminum and steel fittings, nylon canopy with Dacron suspension lines. Chassis made in the USA. Canopies are made in the USA or imported.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - A newer manufacturer in a crowded field, Powrachute took a different approach to chassis building. Fewer parts means faster assembly and a more modern look to my eyes. The Frontal Fuselage Bars are one Powrachute innovation I could immediately appreciate. Nylon webbing risers add shock absorption compared to steel cables. Company owner is a well-regarded manufacturing expert.
Cons - Since most powered parachute chassis manufacturers use the same few brands of canopy suppliers, Powrachute can't differentiate itself this way. Company does not yet offer the elliptical canopies others are promoting. PC2000's sturdy carriage frame is one of the heaviest on the market; many other 2-seaters are 100 pounds lighter.
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 - As tested, PC2000 Deluxe was well equipped. Options available include electric starting, high-end EIS digital instrument panel, and strobe light. Standard items include rudder trim locks and reversible steering bar that doubles as a tow bar. Engine controls easily accessed. Easy repair access.
Cons - You pay more to have "mandatory options" like electric starting, but such appears very useful for canopy launching. Systems you can add are limited (as they are on most powered parachutes - these are supposed to be simple flying machines). No brakes are offered.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - The Frontal Fuselage Bars are a clear and definite addition to occupant safety; overall cockpit seems well protected. Four-point seat belts in both positions are appreciated. Simple front seat entry/exit. A cargo area is provided below the seats: 10 x 20 x 8 inches, but obviously not accessible in flight.
Cons - Powrachute seats look very well made but squeeze front and rear occupants together like older trikes. Front seatback rest is very short. No seat adjustment (though steering bars do adjust). Rear seat entry means dealing with overhead tubing. The forward bars do obstruct visibility a small amount. Powrachute lists no stash bags accessible in flight in their options list.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Prelaunch visibility is as good as in flight: wide open. In-flight steering bars are adjustable for pilots of different heights. Very strong carriage with underside steel tubing running to the rear of the "fan guard" (prop guard). Main gear legs use a motorcycle-type shock absorber system. Flip-forward taxi steering bar is more intuitive than many powered parachute taxi steering systems and doubles as a ground handling tow bar. Very clever.
Cons - Though taxi steering bar is convenient to reach, you push right for left steering (same as most trikes). No brakes; perhaps not often required though hard-surface operations may be more challenging. Ground clearance is not as high as some powered parachutes with larger tires. Taxiing with canopy overhead takes experience.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Superb visibility before takeoff and on landing approach (as well as all other times). The canopy and its rigging set approach speeds. Ground roll on takeoffs and landings are quite short. Strong climb rate with standard 65-hp Rotax 582 engine. Steep glide angle will help many pilots make good approaches (assuming they plan well).
Cons - Crosswind operations aren't really possible (though short landings roll may allow landing into the wind). Energy retention is very weak; you get basically one chance for flaring. No approach aids other than power and good planning. Ground clearance is adequate for off-field landings but less generous than some brands.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Maneuverability was greater than I expected, with turn rates enhanced by pulling on lines already taut from steering bar action. Reversing rolls were much faster than expected (though given commonality of canopies, this is true of most powered parachutes). Special "tangle-resistant" riser brackets help prevent line snags.
Cons - No rear seat throttle. Essentially no speed control other than power, except for braking of canopy, which slows the machine slightly from its trim speed. Very limited control capability to cope with crosswinds if needed. Precision turns to headings will take practice.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Nylon risers have some stretch that smoothes interaction of canopy to chassis compared to steel cable. Trim locks help adjust for pilots of different weight. Powrachute doesn't even list a Vne; it isn't necessary on powered parachutes. Low flying over the fields - a type of ultralight performance in my opinion - is superb in the PC2000.
Cons - Powrachute does not yet offer the elliptical canopies (like Chiron), which can offer a modest improvement in performance range. Glide is steep at 3 or 4:1, not enough to reach very far if your engine fails. Sink rate is relatively high at about 600 fpm; many fixed-wing ultralights are better. Powered parachutes always use a lot of power; you can't lower noise much.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Four-point seat belts are valued by any pilot and offer security to students who may be apprehensive about sitting "out in the breeze." The Frontal Fuselage Bars could be extremely helpful if low elevation flying has you brushing through any obstacles. With well-rigged lines, "hands off" (feet off?) flying is very simple.
Cons - While stalling a powered parachute is unlikely, some phenomena can produce a sustained descent beyond the pilot's control (good training will help avoid this predicament). Erratic use of power can lead to problems in flight. At high power settings, fuel consumption is high; 10-gallons won't last long.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Powrachute prides itself on selling only via dealers, which should mean closer help as you get started. Powder coating is done in house and convection baked. Assembly is simplified by curved tubing that replaces many brackets and bolts of other designs. Company backed by experienced, manufacturing award-winning owner. Taking this aircraft home with you is easier than many ultralights (except possibly trikes).
Cons - Prices are comparable to many fixed-wing ultralights or trikes; no advantage here. Powered parachutes won't interest many fixed-wing or trike pilots used to greater flight flexibility. Those hoping to deal factory direct must look elsewhere. Out-in-the-breeze flying isn't optimal in cold climate flying (though low speeds will keep some chill off).
Like a poised cat, restrained energy waiting for its opportunity, Powrachute sprang into the powered parachute industry and snapped up a share of this fast-growing aviation segment. In just a couple of years, the Kansas company has found some 300 buyers of their distinct ultralight. Given their approach to the industry, perhaps using a “spokes tiger” is highly appropriate. A feline named Noah is featured in the company’s ads and on its brochure. As with the unusual spelling of the corporate name, Noah helps Powrachute stand out in a crowd. (Personally, I thought the letters meant Pow’r-a-‘chute, spelled in the shorthand way of vanity license plates.) Until recently, the Kansas company offered a single 2-seat model – the PC2000 – which could be configured with various options. The PC2000 is a new design “for the 21st century.” However, despite its newness, even the PC2000 changed rather dramatically to add rollover protection which the company calls Frontal Fuselage Bars.