I know this forum focuses mainly on individuals wanting to get the most out of OpenPPG and technical discussions about the design, but I’ve been considering the ways that electric paramotors could be useful in other areas and though I’d share some of my thoughts/research. A lot of these are elaborations on ways ultralights, PPGs, and drones have been used in the past, but with the new extreme of portability and cost Paul’s design affords, I think there is a lot of unlocked potential.
Disaster Relief/Search and Rescue
- In countries where there’s a big disaster (think earthquake in Haiti) there’s often a ton of medical emergencies which need to be tended to, but infrastructure like road have often been destroyed in the disaster
- If you could get first responders in to survey different areas’ needs/fly in with small first aid kits you could have a much quicker response and direct bigger resources like helicopters and supply drops more effectively
- Drones let you see from above, but you can’t talk to people on the ground or tend to the injured
- Helicopters are obviously a better option for evacuation/supply drops, but they’re really expensive to buy, fly, and maintain
The idea of using ultralights has been pitched before, but these are the old clunky kind without the kind of transportability an ePPG could provide and the cost is like 10x compared to an ePPG
Here’s a paper I found that talks about search and rescue uses for PPGs, but it focuses on the military applications rather than humanitarian ones
Maintaining Rural/Off the Beaten Path Infrastructure:
- This goes hand in hand with the disaster relief bit
- I know a woman who works doing this in Colorado, she has to trek for miles off road (in snowshoes during the winter) to get to satellite dishes and other remote hardware which she needs to fiddle with to restore service
- She carries very few tools (meaning they wouldn’t be too heavy for an ePPG)
- There are a lot of hard to maintain assets like this which are far from where roads can get to (oil pipelines, electric lines, radio antennas)
- ePPGs could help technicians respond faster to problems and keep power and communications online
- Could help fix blackouts like Puerto Rico has experienced quicker
Any thoughts on other ways ePPG’s could do good?
Didn’t read all your text, but consider this:
The OpenPPG is just a different approach to Powered Paragliding with 2-stroke engines.
There are a lot of limitations as to where you can launch, land and fly. The new approach with the OpenPPG does not change any of those limitations.
Ask yourself why powered paragliding is not used for those applications today, as you named them.
“Sure I’ll deliver that medication for you, just hold on until Thursday when this gust front passes.”
“Where are you, we need eyes in the air on that shooter!” “No can do Chief, flying over congested areas would be a risk to myself and others. See FAR part 103 for more details.”
“Did you find out who the poachers were? Did you see their vehicle?” “Are you crazy? There’s too much rotor, let’s catch the poachers at sunset.”
“Where are those solar panels? We need to get this cell tower back up and running.” “Sorry, I didn’t bring the solar panels, but I’ll have you know I can fly for up to 45 minutes at a time.” “Wait, you blew our transportation budget for the month on that?”
In all seriousness though the poaching one does sound kind of appealing in grassy planes-like areas. Useful? Not entirely. A way to motivate people to become rangers? Possibly.
Ya drone with a thermal is going to be a lot better in a lot of situations.
All humor aside, your thinking is dead on. We actually support an organization that has used PPG for humanitarian work for years. 103 doesn’t play a role anywhere outside the US, and in many developing nations the rules are even less restrictive than the US anyway. They were in Haiti, Nepal, etc. Good group of guys that do, don’t just talk about doing. Mostly advanced civilian medics, and former operators from the military. Check em out. We already told them about this project as a possibly more portable version of what they already use. www.bootsontheground.org/ppg
Glad to know there’s some feasibility here. Obviously not usable in as many conditions as a drone or helicopter, but drones can’t put people on the ground and helicopters cost a ton of money to fly and get to location. Maybe PPG’s could act as a (weather dependent) middle ground for rapid response.
Yep, it already does. You’ll note, ironically, that BOTG’s team is called a “Rapid Deployment PPG Team”. They’re not the only NGO doing it, but one of the few with a full system in place. And sure, there are limitations, but they’ve been used to considerable impact, and I suspect, will continue to do so. The problem is, being a pilot is one thing – being able to help, is yet another. Easy to become a pilot, not so easy to become a well trained medic or other helper who actually knows what to do during disasters. My understanding is, in large part, they use them so they can get into difficult to reach places to provide aid primarily. But, also to scout areas in real time etc. I’m not a team member, but we help some of their trainees. Portability plays a big role. I suspect projects like this will be of great interest in due course.
In terms of the training asymmetry it definitely seems like the plot hole of the movie Armageddon: easier to teach an astronaut to drill than an oil worker to be an astronaut.
Very excited to see this is being done. I hope if its successful we’ll see more widespread adoption of the technology.
hahaha. love that. haven’t thought about that movie in years… makes me think of the Aerosmith story where Tyler is looking at the screen watching the official trailer and sees his kid crying for her on screen husband who is about to die and he’s like, “I’m right here baby…” He told that story on some talk show. Cracked me up.
In 2001 I started flying as a volunteer pilot for the NARWC.org.
I was flying a FB solo and Silex.
Pregnant Right Whales give birth off the coasts of Ga and Fl. in the winter months.
On rare occasions they bring their calves within a few hundred yards of the shore line.
Through the winter months 100’s of volunteers climb on roof tops to try and spot the mother calf pairs.
On the even rarer occasion a volunteer spotter, will get a sighting.
The scientist will then verify the sighting and call me.
I would drive to the exact location and fly out over the ocean and gather photographs to help identify the mother.
The real bonus for the org. was the behavioral video of the mother calf that I was able to get from a few hundred feet over the whales.
If the winds were just right I could hover for over an hour.
I used to extend the brake lines and steer with my feet, leaving my hands open for filming.
There were many ways in which I used my PPG to help society.
I believe that many of those ways are now being served by Volunteer and Commercial Drone pilots.