Beat your (reconditioned) llamas into plowshares.

Yes, that’s a seriously geek headline, but this just might create a revolution down the road in civilian fly-by-mouse transportation.  At its current prices, no dice, but would I consider, if my mortgage was already done, plunking down on something that would let me engage in some serious travel via airplane timeframes?

I just might, especially if it needs little in the way of a runway…. though taking off from the back of somebody’s pickup would look a little weird…

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  1. This isn’t a good pick for transport if speed is a concern. All powered paraglider based systems have the same flaw – forward speed is essentially fixed (and usually at a low speed like 30 mph – really big wings like this transport system can have much higher speeds due to extremely heavy wing loading. Wikipedia says “cruising speed” is 60mph and “speed” is 38 mph, the second figure is probably the top speed unloaded, first one is with 1600lb load…).

    The reason for this is that you have a propulsion unit suspended by flexible rigging beneath a parachute. What happens when you add thrust? The propulsion unit moves ahead of the wing (and up: riggling length is fixed) so the wing changes angle of attack and climbs. All you get by increasing power is a faster climb – your forward speed doesn’t get any better.

    There are some systems that partially get around this (some sport paragliders have speed bars that basically open some baffles and change the shape of the wing to decrease lift (and drag) making the new fixed speed of the system a little faster. I don’t believe there are any light wings that go faster than 40mph, however, and given that your airspeed/groundspeed differential might easily be 10mph, this makes the whole system impractical for transport.

    This is really a bummer too. There’s a guy working on a Li-Ion battery powered ducted fan powered paraglider. If you could get some extra speed due to directed thrust from the ducted fan – imagine a relatively silent wing that cruises at 50mph and the whole system fits in a rigid backpack structure… Very cool!

  2. That’s a pity, because I’ve often seen where distance itself isn’t a huge factor if one were able to travel “as the crow flies” at general aviation altitudes, but once one puts in odd right-angles and grid travel combined with crossing through city-dominated space, road trips can get quite burdensome.

  3. Chris

     /  May 1, 2007

    What does this have to do with abusing llamas? To quote Jayne “I like smacken’em”

  4. It’s an obscure starter vehicle in a somewhat addictive free video game.

  5. Chris

     /  May 1, 2007

    Ah – ok.


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