Velocity Recon Reviews
Paratoys has been selling paragliders for probably 10 years, starting
with the eponymous Paratoys wing, a beginner model based on the MacPara
Muse. Their latest offering, under the brand name Velocity, is the
Recon–a reflex model intended for experienced pilots who want to compete
or just enjoy going faster with good handling. According to company
owner, Mike Robinson, it was designed by a Russian who came up with
something truly unique, at least in its approach to brake usage at high
speed, always a problem for reflex gliders.
My lone test flight was on the Paratoys Pro Series paramotor at sea
level with a hook-in weight of 205 pounds. That included 135 pounds of
me and 70 pounds of fueled paramotor. Conditions were mid-day with
2-level bumps and light winds. Thanks to Michael Mixer for letting me
try out both his wing and motor and for getting some pictures.
(- trim in, – trim out): The handling on this glider was excellent and
the combo brake handles were a joy to use. The tip toggle goes through
the main toggle (as pictured left) so that moving the main toggle moves
the whole trailing edge like normal brakes. Flown this way response is
light and crisp for a reflex wing, comparable to the Plasma. Keep a
finger in that small toggle though and, when the speedbar is fully
engaged, you can just use the tip steering. Here’s the cool part. This
engages just enough of the brake span to also effect useful pitch
control. That suggests that you may be able to fly this, fully reflexed
and in full speedbar using the tip steering for roll control and enough
pitch control fly low level.
What I would now like to do (or hear from other pilots) is try some of
the other gliders I’ve flown to see how much pitch control they have
when using their tip steering. Maybe its there but wasn’t enough to
notice? On this glider it was enough to notice and I would have been
willing to use it while powering into a cloverleaf at full speedbar.
There are also more traditional tip steering toggles that pull the
stabilos (very tip). It’s good when maximum efficiency or speed is
desired because there is no deformation of the trailing edge at all, a
feature that also means they’re minimally effective, too, just like
pulling the stabilo line on any glider to steer.
Inflation (-): Popped up nicely in the light breeze. As gliders,
including reflex models, have gone to lighter weight fabric the
inflation is becoming less an issue. No doubt durability is sacrificed
but that’s a good trade-off for being able to launch reliably. I’m a big
fan of this trade as long as the sellers acknowledge that there is some
sacrifice in longevity.
Risers: (-): It has four risers with magnets on the tip steering,
relatively short trimmers, a speedbar travel, and split A’s.
Efficiency (- slow/ – fast): I did not do a sink rate test (it was bumpy
anyway) but it felt plenty efficient.
Speed (-): It isn’t particularly fast at my weight owing to the larger
size but would certainly be competitive for a more heavily loaded pilot.
I would need it in an 18 m2 size to be competitive in pylon-type comps
but that is hard to find. Also, there is not much trimmer range so
you’ll want to have a speedbar hooked up to take advantage of its speed.
Speed test raw: Wind run: 22, 30.5 mph for a windspeed of 4 mph. Test
run=23.5, 25, 31
Speed Trimmed Slow = 28.5 mph
Speed Trimmed Fast = 29 mph
Speed Trimmed Fast with Full Speedbar = 35 mph.
Here is the formula to see how fast it would be at your weight.
Construction (-): My casual look suggested a modern construction
techniques employing lightweight materials.
Certification & Safety (-): There is no certification at this size and
the innovative control method warrants careful exploration by an
experienced pilot up high. Its “tip” steering engages more of the wing
than most reflex gliders do. That could make it more subject to tip
collapses when fully accelerated but I’ve noticed that a lot of
competitors on reflex wings get tip collapses and they don’t do much. If
I get another opportunity then I’ll try it up high, fully accelerated
and intentionally flying through my wake to see what happens (wearing a
reserve, of course!).
Overall (-): Anyone wanting great handling and decent speed will enjoy
this offering especially at heavier weights than me. My hats off to
Paratoys for a unique steering solution. It doesn’t have as wide a speed
range as some but would be very competitive in the right hands.
-Jeff Goin, USPPA President
Jeff Goin’s Velocity Recon review on Foot Flyer
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I recently got back from Salton Sea- this is always one of my favorite
fly-ins. Warm, all-day flying is something we Midwesterners don’t get
much in the winter. It’s a large fly-in, and that comes with it’s own
challenges (especially for new pilots), but it’s also exciting to fly
with so many friends. The site is now very well manicured; it was a
little rough last year, but a lot of work has gone into it, and it’s
quite nice now.
Like a fool, I chopped a cell out of my leading edge on my wing while I
was launching to fly back from breakfast. Fortunately, Michele Danielle
was there and got it fixed for me for super cheap, on-site, and right
away. The repair was so good, you couldn’t even tell. You’re wonderful,
Going to Slab City was an unusual treat (I even made a new friend!)
Salvation Mountain was interesting as well, if not bizarre. Usually, I
like to make the Canyon run in the morning/evening (in low wind only)
and a field trip to Glamis Dunes, generally on the last night with my
buddies. Because of the strong winds, Saturday was a no-fly day, and
most of Sunday was as well. Nonetheless, Sunday evening turned out to be
some really nice flying. The day ended with burly steaks and friends
around the campfire. I had a great time. Thanks to Mike and the Paratoys
crew for putting on this great event. Lord knows, I know how much
trouble a mid-sized fly-in is to put on…
Wing Review: 22m Paratoys Recon
I always try to fly new wings at fly-ins, but the only new one I got to
try this year was the Recon. Ray McMahon generously offered up the new
Dudek Hadron to try, and I was going to, but the weather didn’t
cooperate before he left. He promised to bring it out for the Indy Air
Hogs fly-in this year; I’m looking forward to trying it. On to the
First off, I should say that I normally fly a MacPara Spice 22, so
that’s the basis for my handling comparisons. I launched the Recon in
low wind; probably 2-3 mph. It came up very easily (which surprised me,
being a reflex and all) and it almost overshot me. I did some quick
upwind/downwind speed tests, and came to estimates of 30mph (trim slow)
and 33mph (trim fast): note, my all-up weight is about 255 lbs. The
speed estimates are close, but I could have been more thorough.
Honestly, I was more anxious to see how the wing handled. The brake
toggles have this cool feature where there is a nested (small) toggle
inside the main brake toggle. This nested toggle is used for high
performance steering, and is suggested for trims slow or fast. With
trims fast and full speed bar, you’re only supposed to use the tip
steering, which is another control. The steering controls, while
unusual, were really cool- very innovative. The nested toggle controls
just the outside 5′ or so of the trailing edge, and wow, does it
respond. I mean right now.
This wing handled very similar to my Spice, which I consider the Porsche
of motoring paragliders. It responded quickly, went into a steep dive
when you wanted it to, and didn’t seem to roll oscillate. I really liked
it. And this coming from someone who never really liked a Paratoys wing.
I thought this wing was kick-ass. I really wish I’d gotten to try the
Dudek Hadron so I could have compared them, but alas, it wasn’t in the
cards. So now I can say that I’ve finally flown a reflex wing that I
really liked. I will also say this: this wing is not for beginners. The
very responsive handling combined with the complexity of the additional
steering controls would be too much for a newbie. But for an
intermediate or advanced pilot- yeah, this is a winner.
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I got to fly the Recon as it was being demoed by my friend, David
Jackson, a reflex Dudek Nucleon pilot. The Velocity dealer, Michael
Mixer, told us all kinds of great things about the Recon but I’ve heard
all that hype before so it went in one ear and out the other. Finally,
after having my fill of all the BS, I figured I’d shut this guy up and
fly the Recon to let Michael know that “it aint all that…thank you, come
again”. OMG was I wrong. It IS all that!
Let me start with what is not good with this glider. The run out on
launch is a little further than my current classic dhv 1-2 PPG wing. In
slowest mode (trimmers pulled in) I would guess, in no wind, it takes
5-7 more steps to fly. I love flying but running is not something I
enjoy so strike one. Michael tells me the minimum speed is 2mph faster
than my current non-reflex glider and I can understand that as being
part of the reflex game. Next…….well that’s it for the negative and I
Now, to the positives. After running those extra 5-7 steps, I’m in the
air. I made my first 180deg turn and true to Michaels words, it turned
using half the brake travel and pressure as I normally use on my classic
dhv 1-2 glider. After a few more turns and cutting up I’m instantly
feeling comfortable with this glider. It’s easy to make it do some nice
diving swooping turns and for some reason I feel like a better pilot. I
don’t/can’t do any acro and am the “median” pilot….I like to cruise
around….fly to some locations 10 miles away and then come back to the LZ
and cutup. My “acro” is doing sharp turns, big ears, foot drags…touch
and goes and things like that. I’ve got a little confidence with this
wing quickly and it’s time for some foot drags. Normally I have to
modulate the throttle a good bit as well as the brake toggles on my own
glider but the Recon is different. With it I am almost always at a
constant throttle and can really manage sink and lift with the Recons
brake toggles. It may have a lot more energy…it might be because it’s
green, I don’t know but it is much easier for me to do foot drags with
the Recon. It’s like I can really feel what it is doing and the glider
responds very well to everything I’m asking it to do. There is a PPG
term for that I’m sure but I don’t know it. It just feels “right”.
Climbing up and leveling off, I decide to look at my GPS. I see 23mph
going into the wind and 31mph coming back with the wind for an average
of 27mph in slow mode. I let the short trimmers out and see my average
speed has increased to 29 mph. Wow this thing is pretty speedy but I
honestly could care less about speed having given away my speed bar
pullies to my flying buddy Sam Nash many months ago. At least the Recon
is doing the speed Michael told me it would.
Now it’s time to mess with these smaller inner toggles. Somehow, they
just sit there inside the main toggles out of the way. Michael said to
try them and that I would be impressed. I pulled one down about 5″ and
YES SIR this thing turns on a DIME! I mean right NOW!! After landing, I
call Michael and ask why in the world would you need to turn THAT
fast??!! He tells me the Recon is a cross country/competition glider. I
have never flown a comp glider but this must be what they feel
like…..when you want to turn quickly it happens immediately. I decide
that I will play with those toggles after a few more flights because I'm
a NasCar driver driving a Formula 1 car at this point.
It’s time for a landing and I remember Michaels advice. Come in….a
little brake and it will level off just above the ground. Right when you
start to lose some altitude flare and watch her stop and ease you down.
That is exactly what happened. At first I thought “man I am hauling butt
and this is going to be faster than I can run.” As soon as I started to
lose a little energy I flared and the Recon slowed to a creep and just
set me down easy. You do have to be careful because it has a lot of
energy and will raise you back up into the air several feet if you treat
this thing like your old classic glider. The Recon has a LOT of flare
That’s my initial impressions. Next comes some speed bar to see what this
full reflex hype is all about…Sam I need to borrow those pullies.
One more point is that our flying was in some bumpy air. The Recon
seemed to smooth out the bumps some and they didn’t grab my attention as
much as they normally do. I constantly felt in total control and somehow
the rough air was just more manageable and not nearly as nerve wrecking.
I really feel like this wing can extend my flying time another hour in
the mornings as the thermals start because it dampens the bumps so well.