Paralight Aviation is a small company based in Israel which manufactures and sells quality gear for aerial photography. The big difference from traditional aerial photography is that these guys use small radio controlled powered parachutes as the platform for the photographic gear.
Full size powered paragliders and powered parachutes are not the same thing, but when talking about these miniatures, it's close enough! That is, there's a canopy and payload dangling from the canopy, with a model aircraft engine attached to the payload providing propulsion. The Paralight system can carry nearly half a kilo of equipment.
That gives plenty of options for mounting photographic gear.
Here's a few questions and answers about the Paralight Powered Parachute, as they call it.
How much? In October 2007 Paralight Aviation offered their RC powered parachute as a complete package for $1000 U.S. dollars. If that seems a lot, remember that this is really a miniature aircraft, not a toy.
Is that ready to fly? No. There is a small amount of assembly to be done, plus installation of the radio gear. Some aeromodelling experience would be a great help here. If you've never made and flown model aircraft before, you'll need to take it slow and maybe get some help from an aeromodelling friend when it comes to flying it for the first time.
Is it easy to fly? Yes, these model paragliders would have to be the easiest model aircraft of all to fly! Well, apart from an RC balloon, perhaps. RC paragliders fly very slowly and therefore you have plenty of time to think and act, compared to other kinds of model aircraft. I can remember hitting the ground with an RC trainer many years ago because I pushed the stick the wrong way while it was coming towards me. I had maybe 1/2 second to correct the situation but didn't make it!
What do I get exactly? There are several packages, but the most complete package comes with the following items:
The website has some fascinating background on this company, which I have summarized here.
The company has its roots in the technological and inventive talent of the Roimi family. Since childhood, the Roimi brothers spent their spare time tinkering with technology. Combined with a fascination with flight, this resulted in a long period of development of their ideas for aerial photography using a miniature parachute wing. After 6 years of trying, they finally had an excellent, proven system. It might have been a trying time for their mother too - she did all the sewing!
After this, Moshe Roimi decided to turn the hobby into a business. At first, the Roimi brothers offered their models to the RC flying community. The powered parachutes were well received by many flyers. The main reason was that they were very easy to keep in one piece compared to other faster flying and more fragile craft. As an added bonus, RC flyers could now experiment with aerial photography as well.
Paralight powered paragliders are currently being used in a wide range of activities. Here's a few:
All in all, Paralight Aviation has very impressive support for any person or organization wishing to photograph or take video from the air at low altitude.