Our take on gliders
Paragliders (wings, gliders) specific to paramotoring can be broken into several categories - and if you’re just starting out it can be quite mind-boggling to sort through the madness and decide what’s right for you. “Reflex” vs. “Classic” is always a hot topic, EN-A or EN-B, stable or sporty, certified or open class, etc., etc., etc.
These categories relate directly to performance and safety - and there’s a natural progression in this sport that all pilots go through to prepare for the next category of wing. So often, pilots want to start out on a glider that is one or two categories beyond their current skillset. In our long experience we’ve found that while that doesn’t always translate to accident/injury; it almost always negatively impacts your progression by bypassing necessary steps/skills, puts you at greater risk for having an incident/accident, and most commonly makes the flying experience too exhausting and in some cases too scary for pilots to want to continue the sport.
One thing you want to be sure of, is that you’re not going to “outgrow” your new glider in six months - and at Team Fly Halo we take the best care to make sure you get the right glider to match your current skills, as well as helping you achieve your goals for the next couple flying seasons. That said, we typically see pilots wanting to upgrade gliders about every two years - so we hate to break it to you, but this will be an ongoing expense as you progress further and seek more performance.
What brand should I get?
One thing to keep in mind when looking for a new wing - don’t get hung up on brands. It’s so easy to take a look at what advanced pilots are flying (or what randoms on social media are recommending) and assume that a given brand of wing is solid gold. In reality nearly all brands of paragliders have great models, and terrible models. For us, in our years in this sport, we’ve most commonly found the quality and design traits we value in Niviuk, Gin, and Ozone paragliders (in no particular order). We feature several exceptional models across all categories to fulfill each need, and these gliders are vetted by our team to ensure highest possible quality and desirable flight characteristics. In our constant search for the best of what’s current, we do rotate brands occasionally. We do not however see it necessary to be some sort of “paramotoring warehouse” that tries to represent every single paraglider brand in order to capture every single sale.
For the Fly Halo Team, we’ve taken our favorite wings from the lineup and presented them in the following categories:
Easy/Beginner - Stability, safety, ease of launch, quality. These gliders are perfect for the humble beginner who understands that learning a new flight discipline takes time, and wants the absolute safest glider with the best characteristics for success while they navigate this fun new sport.
Beginner/Intermediate - These gliders range from beginner to intermediate, and include both "classic" and "reflex" designs, all of which are suitable for students who are very apt and very successful at training. If you’re just starting out, be sure to speak to us about whether a not these are good options for you to meet your flying goals.
Cross-Country - This category includes gliders designed for all-around use - but excel in cross-country applications. Greater performance (better glider ratios, more lift at speed, greater top speeds) allows intermediate-to-advanced pilots to squeeze more hours/mileage out of a fuel tank, enjoy lower cruise RPMs, shorter takeoffs, slower landings, and dynamic handling for when it’s time to cut-up and have some fun down low. Gliders in this category are typically for pilots with a minimum of 50-100 flights total and with more than one year of experience.
Advanced Cross Country and Slalom
Attention hot shots, here’s your category. These gliders are designed for competitive cross country flying, slalom racing, or they just fit in this category because they’re more dangerous yet really fun to fly. Advanced pilots only!
Okay, what's this "reflex vs. classic" thing all about?
If you've done any reading about about "paramotor wings" in general, you've probably come across the never ending debate about "reflex" vs. "classic" paraglider designs. You've probably gotten a lot of advice about it too, but you should probably know that the general advice you absorb on dealer websites, manufacturer marketing videos, and social media groups isn't necessarily suitable for every single person.
For an excellent detailed description of reflex designs including benefits and downsides, visit Footflyer.com
The quick, down-and-dirty is that reflex is an airfoil profile design feature that increases passive stability, resulting in a potential for higher speeds. Depending on what the designer does with this feature; a reflex wing can be absolutely bomb-proof stable and very fast while trading off efficiency, or it can sacrifice stability for increased efficiency and speed, depending on the advanced pilot's skills and judgement to keep him/herself safe.
All reflex gliders tend to have higher speeds, which includes faster launch and landing speeds than the easy/beginner category wings. This can be challenging for heavier pilots, pilots who live at higher elevations, and pilots who aren’t overly fit or coordinated. Reflex gliders are inherently more "stable" or collapse-resistant than non-reflex, but this does not necessarily make them “safer” overall; as collapse recovery tends to take longer, and with greater loss of altitude during re-inflation on reflex wings.
There are some fantastic beginner-minded reflex gliders on the market that are perfect for fit pilots who want to go fast, who have excellent flight aptitude, are level-headed, and are willing to trade off a slight increase in risk for more performance. In our school, about half of the pilots who have graduated have started out on beginner reflex wings with great success.
You're not alone!
Good news! You don’t have to figure this out on your own. Give us a call, tell us your story, and see what recommendations we might have for you. Gear shopping should be a fun and positive experience, and we make things easy by recommending only the gear we think will give you the best longevity and success in the sport!