How good (or not) is the OpenPPG for first-time paramotor pilots?

Is the OpenPPG a good platform for beginners to start with (if an instructor OKs it)? It’s really tempting - it seems like it’ll be cheaper on money and effort (maintenance). And maybe it’s easier to fly, too? (There’s no steer torque, annoying motor starts, or powerbanding to worry about, so those are a few less things to think about when learning how to fly with an instructor.)

Are there any reasons I should avoid picking this as my first motor? Obviously, there’s the downside of short flights, but as someone with almost no hours in the sky, I would just be happy getting off the ground and getting started in aviation.

I’m a batch 6 owner and haven’t flown my unit yet. Still finishing assembly. I do have many hours on my gas unit. I would guess OpenPPG is probably easier on a beginner because it’s so light and you don’t have to worry about all the moving parts that a gas engine has (i.e. check spark plugs, oil/gas mix, idle, fuel slosh, etc.). However, you do have to have lots and lots and lots and lots of patience in building it. For one thing, it takes a while for the delivery to take place as you’re not buying from a retail business. The White brothers have done a bang up job testing, designing, and bringing these units into reality. Direct support from them is very sparse and they take a while to respond to emails or posts. If you’re missing parts, they need time to get them to you. I ordered my unit back in Jan and finally received it last month, but missing some parts. Still missing a few pieces, but they’re coming. Despite that, I’d do all over again since the alternative is to spend $14k or more on a commercial unit. My unit cost me around $4500k including batteries and chargers. I’m quite proud knowing my unit inside and out because I built it. And you have lots of people on the community here willing to help. The articles on battery life was tremendously helpful to me as I researched power sources. I would probably suggest a few spare props as a new pilot since when I was learning, I broke 3 props even on a gas unit. Take lessons if you haven’t already done that. It was the best money I spent on this whole pursuit of affordable flight. Hope that helps.

2 Likes

SP140 on order for my first paramotor. I’ve flown a kangook polini 190 in training.
I feel like my first year or two will be learning to fly and 1 hour is probably the most I’ll need for a while. I think it will be a while before I look at cross country if at all.
Hopefully by then battery tech will provide 1h20-1h30.

1 Like

I plan to start in and train this winter. I’ve ordered a SP140, and plan to use it as my only rig. We’ll see what the instructors think about that!

4 Likes

@smar737 Are you planning to use your SP140 during your training? I wonder if the battery life will/would get in the way of training flights with an instructor because they cap how long you can fly.

I would also add/recommend considering getting a unit fully pre-assembled. Thinking myself pretty capable fix/make/diy guy, I decided the diy (kit option) of my batch-6 a year ago. For those thinking to buy, I’ll share my experience of not receiving anything but a box of (incomplete) parts; no instructions, diagrams, photos, or basically anything to go by in the assembly process. It has honestly been quite frustrating and disheartening, and after a year later, I’m still trying to figure out how to mount the harness, and generally mount up and connect the batteries to the cut-off switch on to the ESCs. Online pictures to glean from are pretty sparse, but even they would be good enough at this point I think. In conclusion, I’m just saying, that had I known what I wouldn’t get, I would’ve gladly paid the extra bucks to get a fully assembled unit. Just beware and informed, cuz that reality is not pre-sales shared.

Hey All,
I have a V-3. They were offering a $450 upcharge to preassemble it. I could not get the money to them fast enough! My unit works perfectly. I am a screwdriver and wrench guy.
Electricity frightens me! I would not have my unit unless they offered that option.
John

I DO plan on using my e-motor to Learn and train. I’ve been advised to not expect to spend tons of time in the air during the training, and that makes sense to me. I’m a professional pilot, and have been since 1990. My Past experience with flight training leads me to believe the flying portion of this training will = doing a few trips around “the pattern”—practicing takeoffs, basic control and turns, and landings—not long cross-country flights.
Anyone have a different experience/opinion?

I have a good friend who instructs at flyhighparamotors.com on the Florida coast where I spend much of the year, so, I fly with them at the beach and hang around his classes quite often. Robert provides all of the equipment for training and then let’s you decide what to buy. He helps with proper wing size and all of the things most new pilots really don’t know yet. My personal training was pretty uneventful and went smoothly, but that is not always the case. I have seen many butt landings, a turtle or two (outside of training…but new pilots) and a few other instances where the cage hits the ground. His titanium Air Conception V2 Race Frames can take a serious beating on the deep beach sand and on hard ground. In the last 2 1/2 years I have only seen a couple of broken props. That being said, I love my X4 OpenPPG! I have a Tornado 280 and enjoy it very much, but I like flying my X4 better. I suggest you train with someone who provides equipment and get some flights under your belt…then buy your X4 or SP140. The X4 is a work of art and is an exceptional machine in many ways…and can be taken apart and repaired, but it is not going to take a beating without some sort of damage. I know from experience, but that is ok with me. I also understand completely what an “open source” project means too. I am going to buy an SP140 to add to my garage… the frame looks very robust, so, it might be a better choice if you have your mind made up to use one of the electrics for training; otherwise, buy after training.

3 Likes

As you asked to the flight time will be the only disadvantage for training with an X4 apart from the DIY aspect. After you do a first flight it’s good to do another right away and an X4 with only 4 Bonkas will need an hour or more to recharge. Also depending on your field it may be helpful not to have to worry about battery life on your first flight.

1 Like

r.e. using the school’s equipment…There are two training schools within an hour of my house. The one where it’s BYO equipment is $1500. The other is twice that. I haven’t FULLY researched both programs and decided, but my initial leaning is towards the “cheap” option.

I’m also still gathering data/opinions on whether the SP140 will have enough endurance to get me the flight time I need to train, but initial replies have been positive. I still have several months before having to reach a decision.

I apologise for not seeing that you have already ordered the SP140…congratulations! The SP140 should get you enough flight time if you train with it, but you always want to get as many training flights in as you can. That said…I would want to train with a gas unit…but you should be able to get through training with the SP140 just fine…just fewer flights. As far as the expense goes, it’s hard to put price on good training. As Eric Farewell has indicated many times…this is the greatest sport ever, but you can get hurt or even die if you make a bad decision/mistake. I would try to visit with former students of both instructors to get a feel for what the training is like. It will be worth the effort. I ended up going through two courses…one at the beach to learn beach flying and one inland because I fly in both places. Both were very fine instructors. I plan on going back to Avon Park to FourWindsPPG.com this winter for some more advanced instruction. Lorran and Shannon Michaels have a great place to train inland, and they are excellent instructors. I hope this helps. Bill

So I gather from your post that the X4 isn’t too sturdy against hard landings, but the SP140 might be better for that. I think I’ll go with your advice of training with someone who provides equipment, and then buy after I’ve got some flights down. Sounds like a good plan.

But I have another question for you: How reliable is your X4 compared to gas motors in the air? I’d guess that electric motors are more reliable than two-strokes, but then again, it’s not impossible for motors or ESCs to burn out, or for batteries fail, so on… what’s your experience? Any in-flight failures?

Always is.
:slightly_smiling_face::slightly_smiling_face:
I’ve not had an in-flight failure but the dc-dc converter that powers the rest of the electronics quit just as I was about to launch. Smelled the magic smoke so aborted and switched off. The resulting over voltage burned chips on the hub and the controller. Both, along with the dc-dc converter, were replaced. The new hub has over voltage protection.

1 Like

So nice of you to provide feedback. Certainly no need to apologize!
I DO have some time, and hope to go visiting out to both schools this fall. :+1:

To me the SP140 frame looks like a modified Air Conception aluminum Delta frame. The Delta is a very light frame and still very durable. That is just what it looks like to me.

I have had no electrical problems with my X4 batch 3 build. You arm it, press the throttle and the props spin. It is a dream to fly…so much fun, and it lives on the back seat of my car! Also, no torque steer and very little maintenance. I did abort a takeoff the other day…took a knee and broke 2 props. It was a new LZ to me…the launch was downhill…and I ended up getting some trash in 2 of the motors. A little compressed air should take care of it. If you are a “maker” and a 20 minute flight is ok with you, the X4 is a great machine.

I have built and flown quads for years, so, I was already familiar with charging lipo batteries. I am very good to them and only charge them to 90% and discharge to 20%. My batteries are great and hopefully will last many more flights…they are solid and look new still.

Electric is the future.

Here is a link to my build:

I hope this helps.

Bill

1 Like