My hat is off to those who do, those who achieve, those who get it
done. The best ones usually work quietly and with little fanfare on
efforts that will benefit the whole community. Christian Bultmann, Wayne
Mitchler and Leon Whacker are three such individuals.
They are tackling the challenge of creating what I call SafeStart, a
system that could dramatically reduce startup injuries
on paramotors. No system is foolproof and a working brain is the best defense against malicious machinery, but for those moments
of forgetfulness that might otherwise be catastrophic, this system could
be a hand savior.
SafeStart May Become a Reality!
After testing a prototype, Scout Paramotors is making an initial
batch of SafeStart devices that portend to revolutionize paramotor
starting safety. I've tested their prototype it works brilliantly on the
Miniplane albeit at too low an RPM -- a problem that will be solved on
the production version by having a settable kill RPM. The one I tested
did not work on the Black Devil 172 but, so far, that is the only engine
it struggles with and the production version may solve that.
Mercury Switch SafeStart (called Emergency Shut Down) by Tom Scott
2009-11-28 Tom Scott of
Paragliding contacted us to tell of their new Emergency Shutdown
Switch, ESD, available now for $49.95 plus shipping. See the image
below. According to their information:
ESD switch kit is easy to install and very reliable. The kit comes
with about everything you will need to complete the installation.
The design is based on an industrial mercury switch. It can be
mounted directly to the engine or to the frame. When mounted
correctly, the switch will shut off the engine when the frame of the
PPG tilts back toward the operator at a preset angle determined by
the installer. A toggle switch is added to bypass the mercury
switch after engine startup and before flight.
If the motor falls over,
or is pushed over by a full-throttle startup, the mercury switch
closes and the motor stops. The system is very simple, and
therefore, reliable and easy to use and maintain.
The kit comes complete
with most everything needed for an installation, which should only
require about 20 or 30 minutes of effort. Complete instructions are
I hope to get one in for testing on a paramotor and
report the results here on FootFlyer.
Micro Switch by Leon Whacker (original by Ken Morrison)
2009-11-26 Leon Whacker of Paracruiser came up with another
implementation idea that is simpler and has most of the functionality of
the electronic version. His idea, like
Ken morrison's, is to put a limit switch on the bottom aft frame. If
the machine is sitting on the ground, the limit switch is open (no
contact) and start is possible. If the motor angles forward, a spring
loaded piece moves so that a contact is closed, activating the kill
It uses the same SafeStart switch logic with a three position switch
for OFF / START / RUN so that in the START position the microswitch will
kill the motor but is bypassed in RUN.
The electronic version is still better because it shuts off the motor
before it has a chance to produce enough thrust to overpower the pilot.
But the microswitch is much cheaper and doesn't require any power
whatsoever so there are advantages. Again, tradeoffs. Leon is going to
make one and send it to us for testing.
Electronic Version by Christian Bultmann & Wayne Mitchler
Wayne has created another version that uses a key like what comes on some
exercise treadmills. The key must be in to run the unit at normal power
but, when you pull the starter rope, it pulls the key out and the motor
can't go much above idle. To fly normally, you put the key back in. This
has its limitations, but its a great start and they're working on a
solution which involves a timer which won't require pilot action.
We're anxiously awaiting other results and will put updates when they
come in. Wayne plans on selling the system to makers and, hopefully, for
retrofit on individual machines. Hopefully paramotor manufacturers will
incorporate the system into their units if and when it is made