Sector: LPG

Flying, the cheap way

Paragliding has become quite popular and is still on the rise. We met one paraglider pilot whose passion is not only flying, but also building drivetrains for his air vessels. This particular air ship has caught our attention as it has been converted to run on autogas.
The engine and propeller of an LPG-powered paraglider© Zbigniew RolaThe engine, taken from a Suzuki Swift, has been converted using a Lovato LPG reducer. The autogas tank can be seen on the low right

The paraglider's user, Mr Zbigniew Rola, is at the same time the constructor of the entire trolley. He decided to convert the engine to run on LPG to keep the costs down, especially since they are a major factor when it comes to running and maintaining the flying contraption.

The trolley has been designed to accommodate two people. Its frame, as well as the propeller housing, has been made of stainless steel. Due to the design's specifics, the passenger sits in the paraglider's centre of gravity. This means that regardless of how many people are on board (one or two), no modifications to the trolley suspension are required.

A Suzuki Swift engine is used to get the paraglider going. It is a 3-cylinder, 1-litre motor churning out 53 PS. Power is transmitted to a 167-cm diameter propeller through a belt drive with a tightener (the transmission ratio is 1:2,2). The drivetrain delivers 130 KG of static draught.

The engine is a monofuel one and runs on autogas only. It has been converted with a simple, vacuum-type LPG system using a Lovato reducer to vapourise liquefied gas. The reducer feeds LPG into the motor through a mixer located in the air intake system. According to the engineer, the engine runs perfectly up to 3000 m of altitude.

Fuel is stored in a 25-litre composite tank. When empty, the tank weighs in at just 3 kg. Importantly, its walls are transparent, so that fuel level can be constantly monitored. LPG consumption is approx. 6,5 l/h of flight, so it is possible to remain airbourne for nearly 4 hours before having to refuel. The figure is valid for 280 kg of gross start weight (125 kg for the trolley plus 2 people). The trolley is equipped with basic aviation instruments, such as altimeter, variometer (indicating the paraglider's vertical speed during climbing and descending), rev counter, engine temperature and oil pressure gauges and a stopwatch/clock.

This peculiar use of LPG only goes to show how versatile and safe the fuel is. Thanks to Mr Rola's idea, we have yet another proof that virtually anything sporting an internal combustion engine can successfully run on liquefied mixture of propane and buthane. The question remains, though: how do you refuel a paraglider?


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Piotr Złoty
source: Zbigniew Rola 2012-2018 All rights reserved. By using this site you acknowledge that you accept its Terms and Conditions