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Paraglider Review: 2012 Velocity Recon 20

Reviews, 02-22-2012 | Ratings: 1 is bad, 10 is good | Para200 Specs | About the Testing

Paratoys has been selling paragliders for probably 10 years,  starting with the eponymous Paratoys wing, a beginner model based on the MacPara Muse. Their latest offering, under the brand name Velocity, is the Recon--a reflex model intended for experienced pilots who want to compete or just enjoy going faster with good handling. According to company owner, Mike Robinson, it was designed by a Russian who came up with something truly unique, at least in its approach to brake usage at high speed, always a problem for reflex gliders.

My lone test flight was on the Paratoys Pro Series paramotor at sea level with a hook-in weight of 205 pounds. That included 135 pounds of me and 70 pounds of fueled paramotor. Conditions were mid-day with 2-level bumps and light winds. Thanks to Michael Mixer for letting me try out both his wing and motor and for getting some pictures.

Handling (- trim in, - trim out): The handling on this glider was excellent and the combo brake handles were a joy to use. The tip toggle goes through the main toggle (as pictured left) so that moving the main toggle moves the whole trailing edge like normal brakes. Flown this way response is light and crisp for a reflex wing, comparable to the Plasma. Keep a finger in that small toggle though and, when the trims are fast, you can just use the tip steering. Here's the cool part. This engages just enough of the brake span to also effect useful pitch control.

There is also a more traditional Stabilo toggle that goes to the very tip. That is the only steering allowed when fully reflexed. DO NOT use the brakes, including the tip toggle, while on full reflex, use the Stabilo toggle instead.

Note: information changed 5/18/2012 to reflect new knowledge. Previously this write up suggested that using the tip steering was possibly ok when fully accelerated. We now know that is most definitely NOT the case.

Inflation (-): Popped up nicely in the light breeze. As gliders, including reflex models, have gone to lighter weight fabric the inflation is becoming less an issue. No doubt durability is sacrificed but that's a good trade-off for being able to launch reliably. I'm a big fan of this trade as long as the sellers acknowledge that there is some sacrifice in longevity.

Risers: (-): It has four risers with magnets on the tip steering, relatively short trimmers, a speedbar, and split A's.

Efficiency (- slow/ - fast): I did not do a sink rate test (it was bumpy anyway) but it felt plenty efficient.

Speed (-): It isn't particularly fast at my weight owing to the larger size but would certainly be competitive for a more heavily loaded pilot. I would need it in an 18 m2 size to be competitive in pylon-type comps but that is hard to find. Also, there is not much trimmer range so you'll want to have a speedbar hooked up to take advantage of its speed. If this glider were made in a 20 M2 size I suspect it would be as fast as other similar sized reflex wings like the GTR and Hadron. Appropriately loaded, it will give the European gliders a run for their money.

Speed test raw: Wind run: 22, 30.5 mph for a windspeed of 4 mph. Test run=23.5, 25, 31

Speed Trimmed Slow = 28.5 mph
Speed Trimmed Fast = 29 mph
Speed Trimmed Fast with Full Speedbar = 35 mph.

Small Wings and the Effect of Weight on Speed & Power Required.

Construction (-): My casual look suggested a modern construction techniques employing lightweight materials.

Certification & Safety (-): There is no certification at this size and the innovative control method warrants careful exploration by an experienced pilot up high. Its "tip" steering engages more of the wing than most reflex gliders do. That could make it more subject to tip collapses when fully accelerated but I've noticed that a lot of competitors on reflex wings get tip collapses and they don't do much. If I get another opportunity then I'll try it up high, fully accelerated and intentionally flying through my wake to see what happens (wearing a reserve, of course!).

Overall (-): Anyone wanting great handling and decent speed will enjoy this offering especially at heavier weights than me. My hats off to Paratoys' Russian designer for a unique steering solution. It doesn't have as wide a speed range as some but would be very competitive in the right hands.


Remember, If there's air there, it should be flown in!