Paramotor, Pollini 200
Flown 2016-03-24, Reviewed 2016-04-03, Photos by Jeff Goin, Tim
Kaiser | A
Better Paramotor |
MacFly is the outcome of World champ Alex Mateos designing a paramotor,
or at least working closely with those who did. It's what he would want
to fly so it reflects his values: good thrust, smoothly tapped, with
reliable launching and presumably able to handle high G's. It's not the
lightest machine out there but, for the power, it's about right.
This was an impromptu, quick flight opportunity so I was utterly
unprepared and didn't get any pictures. Sorry. If I get some and fly it
again I'll update this review. Thanks to Noe Chaparro for letting me fly
his first one-in-the-country.
I flew it on an 18 meter Viper in 80 degree air, near sea level, with
enough wind for a reverse. I'm about 147 pounds (had been enjoying too
much of the good life).
Weight: It felt like about 65 pounds which included probably a
gallon of gas (7 pounds). It's on the heavy side overall but, for the
power, it would be about right to slightly lighter-than-average. The
Pollini 200 is smooth and powerful but somewhat heavy.
Harness & Suspension: It has a comfortable, low hook-in harness
with plenty of padding and makes good use of pivoting S-arms (or "goose
necks" for weight shift.
Starting: Noe started it for me while it was on my back so I
didn't get to experiment. I seem to remember it having a flash start
which I have mixed experience with. But it does have a clutch which I
really like. It adds a bit of weight but means that simply letting off
the throttle will take torque from the prop and possibly save lines that
otherwise could get chopped in a simple error.
Ground Handling & Kiting: Comfortable on the ground when hiked
up as high as I could but with some pull-back. No doubt that was because it
was heavier than what I was accustomed to. Kiting was normal with the risers
about where you would expect them for a low hook-in machine.
Thrust: Sweet! This was only a bit below the most powerful motor
I've flown (a Parajet Rotron 294). Thrust was smooth and proportional
throughout the range and, even feeding it in slowly, I got nervous about
the steep climb angle. Call me a wuss but there's got to be some point
of climb steepness where aerodynamics weird out and I don't want to be
the guy to test it.
Launch: It was a typical reverse inflation and launch.
The cage was smooth and looked like wing lines would slide up it nicely
during forwards. It has two hoops so you could reasonably expect to do
higher power forwards.
Climbout & Torque: Wow. Climbout was very good and torque
handling maybe slightly better than average given its power and my
relatively light weight (147 pounds). Torque is managed by differential
arm placement and maybe some other off-centering techniques.
Flight & Weight Shift: In flight it felt natural, comfortable, and
allowed good weight shift, taking about average effort to achieve
full riser movement. Loved the throttle response--foot drags and flying
in turbulence, even at low level, would be a joy.
There was some minor fore/aft tilt with thrust changes and it could have
been somewhat masked by its extremely smooth throttle response.
Vibration on this motor is really low although I felt a bit more than
I've experienced on other Pollini machines. The owner said that he had
just damaged his 3-blade carbon prop and that the loaner 2-blade on it
now wasn't as smooth. Still, it was at least as good as the average
amount of vibration.
Sound (-): I didn't notice so it's probable about average.
Safety: Having two hoops is a positive feature that improves
hand protection and, in this case, means the prop doesn't stick out
quite as far as some. Prop clearance from the gas tank seems to be good
especially since carbon fiber props hitting titanium may increase fire
risk slightly. The tank is close to the prop but only up high closer to
the hub. It's the tips that tend to flex forward and it seems like this
machine has more than enough tip clearance.
I'm told the frame is Titanium so, if you know someone who can weld that
you'll do fine. The motor is easily accessible but I didn't get to see
how hard it would be to take it off. I have no experience working on
Pollinis so I can't address what that entails.
Transport: I didn't see it disassembled but the top half comes
apart easily so it would likely be easy to transport in a minivan where
you only have to take off the top. It looks like the cage comes off in
four pieces and, knowing how competition pilots travel with kit, it
probably packs down to a good size. But check that out elsewhere.
Cost: At the time I flew that motor was the only one in the
U.S. so I don't know.
Overall & More Info: It's a nice
machine for anyone who is looking for competition type flying on a low
hook-in system. The smooth throttle response combined with plentiful
thrust will be welcome to anyone managing high speed over a course or
anywhere, for that matter.