Parajet – The Beginning
The first time I spoke to Gilo Cardozo was over 10 years when I had a phone call from a chap wanting to buy all of my excess school paragliders. We had over 30 training gliders on the shelves and we were never going to use all of them so I run an advert to try and move on the excess, which at the time was around 10 or so. “So how many do you want?” I said. “All of them” came the answer from the enthusiastic chap on the other end of the line. The one thing that I remember most about that phone call was that I could never recall talking to anyone with that level of energy before. It was quite odd. It’s obvious now that this would lead to the success that Parajet now enjoys.
It turned out that Gilo had this idea about starting a paramotoring school to teach people how to use this new fangled contraption. Gilos first paramotor was a British built ScobyJet, exactly the same as my first; not great, but enough to get us both fired up to the possibilities. I had been flying paramotors since 1994 but there were very few schools in the UK offering this training service. But not only was this guy planning on teaching people to fly, he had already landed the rights to sell and build the DK Whisper paramotor here in the UK. A small, twin cylinder but lightweight aluminium unit from Japan. He had decided to call this new company ‘Parajet’. A few years later, he told me he had plans on actually building his own designed paramotor completely, engine and all. I thought that was an immensely ambitious thing to try and do, but little did I know that this early project would grow into the industry leading company that we see today. If it had been on TV’s Dragons Den, I’m sure he would have got the smug “and for that reason, I’m out” answer. Luckily, Mr Cardozo didn’t have to lower himself to that level to be successful.
The Factory – From Little Acorns
Over the following years, Parajet first moved out of Gilos barn into a factory unit near Marlborough then onto the factory complex that they have today. The new Parajet factory reminded me of the ‘Q’ department in Jame Bond movies but bigger. Parajets first all in house paramotor and engine was called the GTX. An evolution of this was the lighter weight XT engine but this wasn’t actually really as good as the unit that came before it. In an effort to reduce weight, the machine had become unreliable and gave the fledgeling company a lot of headaches. A lot of time was taken trying to look after customers who were having problems with these early machines as Parajet would simply not compromise on their customer after sale support. That would have been the easy way out but Parajet stuck firmly to their mission statements. It took 3 years of work to finally getting the XT engine right, leading to the production of the Parajet Volution in 2007. Nothing like this had even been seen before in the world of paramotoring. Available in 3 sizes and using aerofoil section tubing, the Volution was unique and an instant hit. Over the years this developed into the Volution 2 and then to the Volution 3 (simply known as the V3) which brings us bang up to date. During this time, the company diverged into rotary engines as a result of the experience Gilo had with Bear Grylls and the mission to paramotor over Everest, a feat which is now written into the history books. This spawned a new company called Rotron and is another part of Gilo Industries like Parajet. Rotron is a multi million pound business with even bigger clients and Gilo Industries is employing close to 100 employees. Parajet can be found in the factory unit next to Rotron and shares its manufacturing facilities. Quite frankly, I doubt that any paramotor manufacturer in the world has as much capital, design and production facilities has does Parajet.
Three Models – Three Philosophies
Parajet currently has three models that basically cover all bases together with two paratrike’s. There is the V3, the Zenith, the Maverick and the Falco trikes. The Falco is supplied as the original tandem unit or the brand new single seat version designed to fit into the new UK trike exemption rules. UK Paratrike Law
The three available models of Parajet paramotors have a particular philosophy behind them. I think that Parajet has been quite clever in this approach. They realised that it was impossible to build a paramotor that had every feature and requirement that was being demanded by the customers into a single machine. What Parajet did, was to very carefully look at exactly what kind of customers are out in the flying world and worked out that all these pilots could be served with three different models, arriving at the V3, the Zenith and the Maverick.
The latest version of the Volution series that started all the way back in 2007. The amount of work that goes into the construction of one of these machines is staggering. I watched one of these frames being welded at the factory from a pile of precision cut parts being assembled in various jigs. The level of accuracy is only really going to be appreciated if you were to stand there and watch one being built. The effort that is put in, reflects perfectly on the strength of the finished item. With the full range of engines available, a pilot can purchase an immensely tough unit with the perfect amount of power required. As far as man hours required to build the V3, it certainly looked to me that it would take a lot longer to construct than both the Zenith and Maverick but this is surprisingly not reflected in the price.
The V3 is the heaviest Parajet but by far the toughest, even able to withstand the training environment. It will forgive you if you make a mistake and end up on your butt. Propellers are expensive and less likely to be damaged with the V3. The V3 can be broken down in seconds for transport but not to the size of the Zenith or Maverick. The frame breaks down into quarters leaving just the chassis and engine so will still fit in the boot of a small car. In fact, the V3 is the fastest paramotor in the range to assemble and breakdown. The Falco paratrike has been exclusively designed to take the V3 making this paramotor extremely versatile. More information on options and the engines that are available.
When I first saw a Zenith I was shocked. I knew that Parajet had been working on something special but this was something else. The Zenith is constructed in a modular form with almost all parts being CNC formed and interchangeable with each other. This gives the Zenith the ability to be able to be broken down completely for travelling. It is for this reason that you see a lot of expedition and display pilots using the Zenith as it is perfect for this role. The Zenith has a lot of original innovations that you will see in many of the competitor’s machines. Many manufacturers would get angry at this blatant ripping off but Parajet seems happy to be responsible for the evolution of the sport. The amount of work that goes into a finished Zenith is a lot more than someone would expect. The machining alone of the CNC components for a single Zenith takes a few days. A single mistake with any component on any Parajet machine and that item is in the bin. At Parajet, there are zero allowances for mistakes. The Zenith can be supplied with a bespoke travelling case with the component spaces being laser cut into the foam. Again, very James Bond.
The Zenith is around 3kg lighter than the V3 but 3kg heavier than the standard Maverick. It is tougher than the Maverick but not as tough as the V3. It is primarily designed for those pilots that need a paramotor that can break down maximumly for travel. All Parajets are exquisitely made but in my opinion, the Zenith is the most exquisite of them all. From an engineering perspective, I think it nothing short of beautiful. All spars and hoop sections are interchangeable and the Zenith is also delivered with a few as spares, free with the paramotor. Add a spare propeller and you are ready to explore the world. More information on options and the engines that are available.
The Maverick is the newest paramotor to come out of Parajet and could potentially be their biggest seller to date. The Holy Grail in paramotors if you were to ask a lot of pilots, is a machine with lots of power but weighs as little as possible. This is an extremely hard thing to achieve and manufacturers have been working on this for over twenty years. With all the previous experience that Parajet had, they went back to the drawing board and came up with the Maverick. The Parajet Maverick is exquisitely manufactured with an all titanium tubular chassis and cage together with a lightweight narrow aerodynamic fuel tank. This helps to keep the centre of gravity as close to the pilot as possible. Low to mid height hang point arms are machined out of solid billet aircraft grade aluminium and are trapped in place by the frame itself, so no dangers of them separating from the machine which tragically has happened in the past. Parajet has always taken this part of the design very seriously on every machine that they have produced, realising a long time ago that a backup strap just isn’t good enough as some manufacturers even today still seem to think. For this incredibly light yet strong cage, Parajet needed an engine and turned to Vitorraza for its supply. The Moster 185 is now probably the most proven and reliable paramotor engine in the world. It certainly has one of the highest power to weight ratios. Since the release of the Maverick, Parajet has seen very few reported problems with the Moster engines and owners appear to be ecstatically happy with them. There are slightly different versions of the Maverick depending on the specification, arriving at an astonishing 21.5kg for the Factory version with titanium exhaust. The Maverick features a clever netting system that is as ingenious as it is effective, helping to stiffen the cage whilst allowing a smooth surface for the lines of the paraglider to slide over during launch. To ensure this goal of extremely light weight, there is no electric start option with its heavy battery. The supplied Vittorazi flash pull start is so easy to use that a child could get the Maverick running in a few seconds. Optional travelling cases are available for the Maverick designed to come in under the 25kg aircraft weight limits imposed by the airlines. For the little extra that they cost, they represent excellent value for money. There are internal pockets for the propeller, the spars and the coiled up netting. It is extremely well designed and made.
The Maverick is the lightest Parajet paramotor, the standard version being typically 3kg lighter than a Zenith and 6kg lighter than a V3, but is not ultimately as strong as either of those two machines. Although perfectly suitable as a first paramotor, it is better that you have already had all your mishaps on a school machine as the Maverick is going to be less forgiving of pilot mistakes. Already experienced paragliding pilots converting to paramotoring will have no problems. But don’t think that the Maverick is flimsy as it isn’t. It’s just not going to take a bang the way a Zenith could or the tank like V3. This is as strong as Parajet could make a paramotor of this weight so if you see something from the competition that is even lighter, it should give you something to think about. The Maverick can still happily take a full power launch if needed without frame deflection. If you did however make a mistake, the Maverick is a modular design and frame parts can be purchased individually saving the pilot potentially a lot of money. The assembly and takedown of the Maverick are faster than the Zenith but slower than the V3. More information on options that are available.
Rather than simply copying what everyone else was doing, Parajet asked both pilots and themselves exactly what do people want from a paratrike? Firstly strength. How to you make a para trike that will take a pounding and in the case of the tandem Falco, a paramotor trike that will withstand commercial use? Would it be possible to give the pilot some element of protection in the case of a roll over? The answer came in the use of high-quality Reynolds steel tubing for the paramotor buggy itself combined with a super stable wide axle on the back. This would help to minimise the chances of a roll over in the first place. The steel tubing chassis of the paramotoring trike would be able to withstand anything that would get thrown at it in normal service. The second question was what power plant was it going to use and the answer was immediately obvious in the form of the bullet proof V3. If the Falco had to be as strong as it could be constructed, but still be an acceptable weight, it made complete sense to use the V3 with its outstanding strength of build and proven reliability. Instead of just clipping on the V3 to the chassis as it is usually done, the design engineers decided that the best approach was a system where the V3 was actually assembled into the paramotoring buggy, with the cage fitting through and becoming part of the paramotoring trike. This is done without tools and the paramotor buggy can be completely built in a few minutes. Once assembled, the Falco is more like a complete unit that just two parts stuck together. The strength of the V3 frame is already well proven and combined with a Reynolds steel tricycle chassis, you get a paramotor trike that gives the pilot a decent amount of protection, even in a full roll over situation. If the V3 cage was to collapse, there is still a roll over bar right behind the pilot’s head. The Falco has been built from the ground up with safety in mind. A foldable extra cage ring is supplied with the Falco to further help eliminate the chance of lines going into the propeller during a cross wind launch. This extra ring also helps to reinforce the already strong V3 cage.
The third question was how to make the paratrike as easy to use as possible. To make the Falco easy to transport whilst still keeping its strength of build, simply removing the back axles will enable the paratrike to fit into the back of a small van. The V3 breaks down into the main chassis and four cage sections as already discussed. The hang points for the paraglider and harness are welded directly onto the steel chassis of the paratrike. The glider and the harness are connected to the paramotor trike with the supplied push button locking pins for fast setup. The tandem version of the Falco has two sets of attachment points depending on if the machine is to be flown with a passenger or solo.
The hang points of the Falco are higher than the underarm attachments of a lightweight clip on accessory paratrike now being offered by a lot of manufacturers. Under arm and mid level attachments with a paramotor will give a flying experience more akin to paragliding, where weight shift control is often required by the pilot. If you want to keep your experience as close to paragliding as possible, low attachment points are what you are probably looking for when it comes to paramotoring. This is why Parajet chooses to use this system on all of their paramotors. The downside to low attachments on paramotoring trikes is the increased sensitivity to the air, so when it gets bumpy, you can get a case of the tail wagging the dog. But when we are discussing paratrikes such as the Falco, stability is more important and weight shift control is limited and not really required although still slightly possible. The higher attachment points on the Falco will give less feedback in rough air making things more comfortable for the pilot and especially the passenger when flying the tandem Falco. Lower hang point mounted paratrikes can also be susceptible to pitching which is largely eliminated with the higher hang points.
A foot bar for the passenger is supplied with the tandem Falco allowing the co-pilot a comfortable 180-degree view of the world. The harness of the V3 is used by the pilot completely as normal once it has been attached to the paratrike attachment points. The pilot sits comfortably suspended from the harness as normal instead of sitting on a hard plate as with the clip on paramotor trikes. The thrust line of the propeller is deliberately angled slightly upwards to direct the propeller wash over the wing without disturbing the neatly laid out wing. This assistive geometry also helps to give the perfect thrust line when the Falco is in flight. The twin rear axles are designed to provide the right amount of suspension and a low centre of gravity. The rear wheels in line with the propeller and a perfect centre of gravity help to stop the trike lifting its front wheel and tipping backwards even in moderate wind conditions. The wide off road style tyres help with control in slippery and sandy conditions. The front fork in typical Parajet innovation is very different to what you usually find. Through the carefully designed use of geometry, this fork eliminates high-speed wobble by reducing sensitivity and is capable of self-steering which has been fantastic for disabled pilots who don’t have use of their legs. This feature allows the paratrike to follow the wing should it be off centre above the pilot’s head. The whole paratrike can be brought to a fast halt with the use of the highly effective front disc brake.
The single seat version of the Falco is very much like the tandem version with a few exceptions. As far as size and dimensions its exactly the same. The Reynolds steel tubing of the paramotoring buggy is of a slightly smaller diameter but still extremely strong. The second set of steel hang points is also gone as obviously not needed. Finally, the footrest for the passenger has been removed. These three modifications significantly help to drop the total weight of the paramotoring trike so that it fits into the new sub 75kg weight limit of the UK paratrike exemption rules. The Falco is available in a choice of colours at a small extra charge to match your V3 or anything else you like. A Falco paramotor trike combined with a powerful V3 paramotor unit will give you a fantastic cross country aircraft that goes in the back of a van. As you are not physically carrying any weight, fuel tanks full to the brim and extra camping gear could bring back the travelling aviators of the 1920’s. The Falco certainly opens up a lot of possibilities. More information on options and the engines that are available.
Often Copied – But Never Surpassed
Parajet has always been one of the biggest innovators in paramotoring and this has led them to become one of the most copied. The Volution has mostly managed to avoid this due to its complexity but the Zenith has been the subject of interest to anyone with access to a CNC milling machine. But as these poor copies slowly disappear from production, the owners are now finding it impossible to find spare parts for these machines. Parajet is constantly being asked if they can produce copied parts for their copied machines. Still, in the name of customer satisfaction, Parajet have looked into this only to find that the small scale production of a single item and the time it takes is completely unviable for the customer. People may think that originally they got a good deal and saved a little money with a copy but the old adage of pay cheap, pay twice seems to be very apt here. Parajet is still supplying spares for machines that they produced ten years ago. I have had problems getting parts from others, for paramotors that were bought 10 weeks ago. Paramotors do go wrong and pilots do have accidents, sometimes small, sometimes not so small. By owning original designs backed up by excellent UK customer service, you know you will be back in the air in the shortest time possible.
Customer Service – Legendary
Parajets customer service is the envy of the entire industry and for good reason. When Gilo Cardozo created Parajet, he decided on two main criteria on which to base the business and this has held true up to the present day; simply to build the highest quality paramotors in the world and to offer the highest level of service to the customer that was possible. This level of customer service is now legendary from Parajet with the aim of getting the pilot back into the air as fast as possible. Only when you have dealt with a manufacturer that thinks customer service is secondary to selling will you really understand this. Like when waiting weeks for the simplest of spare parts or finding that your warranty is being ignored because of some tiny loophole that is being exploited. Or finding that the company has gone out of business and now you are going to have to find your own spares, or worse still, make your own spares. In the twenty-three years that I have been involved in paramotoring, I have seen this over again. Parajet has well earned its reputation for its mostly same day service and after sales care. This has created a level of customer loyalty that I have not encountered with any other manufacturer.
What Next? – Where next?
Why not ask them yourself? Parajet have an open door policy and any potential customer can turn up and have a look at the operation but please give them a call first. I think that you will be surprised at what you see. Dozens of paramotors in various states of build and arc welding flashes lighting up the building. Smartly dressed technicians busying about and multiple CNC machines being used to capacity. This is just in the Parajet building; you should see whats going on next door. You will be given a tour of the manufacturing stations and explanations of what is going on and why. You can try on the different machines and even hang yourself up. The attention they give the customer is equal only to the attention their give their creations. Once you see exactly what goes into building a single Parajet paramotor, it is going to be extremely difficult to justify buying anything else afterwards. You will not get a sales pitch as they will not be trying to close any sale with you. All you are going to get is fascinating information and the facts, and the facts are impressive.
Parajet as a company is going from strength to strength. The sales have recently increased almost 100% in just a short time and show absolutely no sign of slowing down. America has come online and America loves Parajet. Gilo together with his team of engineers never stand still that is for sure and it’s going to be an exciting story to see what they come up with next. The last time I was at the factory it looked like they were building a full-sized flying saucer but were very hush hush about what it actually was. I guess I should have checked the freezer for dead aliens when I had the chance…