Choosing a Paragliding Flight Deck

Or Flight Panel, Cockpit, Instrument Panel...

So you need a paragliding flight deck to have all your favorite hi-tech instruments in one handy place while you fly. OK then, as usual I've 'done the rounds' on the Web and compiled a list of some commercially available units.

It doesn't take a super-sophisticated piece of equipment to attach a few instruments, and maybe hold a map or 2. So not surprisingly, some guys are making their own and sharing the results on the Web. A simple, small deck would be very cheap to make I think. Anyway...

For those of you with front-mounted reserve 'chutes or those carrying ballast, there's a trend towards combining these functions with a flight deck on top of the container. There's a few examples of this approach below.

We all know the most popular term, but I notice the manufacturers have their own pet names. The following names have all popped up.

  • paragliding flight deck
  • paragliding flight panel
  • paragliding cockpit
  • paragliding instrument panel

Let's try a few more, just for fun. Mmmm paragliding gizmo aggregator, gadget board, instrument deck, portable cockpit, device attacher. Maybe in a few year's time all the manufacturers will standardize on one commonly accepted name.

Actual Flight Decks In 2007

Prices mentioned here might soon be out of date, and in fact tend to vary depending on the outlet that sells the deck. These prices are just a guide, as usual! Dollar values are US dollars.

The Critter flight-deck for paragliding.

The Critter Flight Deck, for $65.

  • container with top compartment for instruments, bottom one for general use
  • bottom compartment can fit 6 liters (0.21 cubic feet) of ballast
  • top compartment padded and covered for instrument protection on the ground
  • container can be attached to your shoulder straps for better weight shift
  • weight 350 grams (12.5 ounces)
  • dimensions 31.8 x 15.2 x 15.2 cm (12.5 x 6 x 6 inches)
  • a reserve container version is available for $90

The Gin Instrument FlightDeck, for £40.00 in the U.K.

  • fits any harness, mounts between karabiners
  • spacious top has plenty of room for Velcro attachment of GPS, vario, compass and so on
  • smart zip system, so instruments can fold into main compartment after flying
  • 6 liters (0.21 cubic feet) storage space in main compartment, for ballast or anything else
  • camera pocket, easy to access
  • double sided clear map holder can be folded out in flight

The 'The Loft' Flight Panel, for £40.00 in the U.K.

  • panel can be attached to harness, or worn like a bum-bag
  • solid Velcro-covered base, adjustable for viewing angle
  • adhesive Velcro, and standard Velcro for Flytec instruments included
  • large, foam-padded pocket for transporting instruments
  • smaller internal pocket with emergency whistle, plus room for keys and spare change
  • external pocket suitable for hook knife
  • map case stored in base, can be unfolded in flight to double size

The Sup'Air Cockpit, for £40.00 in the U.K.

  • connects to harness with quick-release buckles
  • rigid lid with room for 2 or 3 instruments, depending on size
  • weighs 500 grams (18.5 ounces)
  • available in Black or Grey Cordura
  • room for 9 liters (0.32 cubic feet) of ballast or storage
  • 2 compression straps for the ballast container
  • small zipped internal pocket for keys, documents, whatever

The Scoot Air Reserve Chute Container, unknown price.

  • fixed to the harness at four points
  • instrument panel area on top, Velcro tape provided
  • that's all!

The Cockpit Ballast Container from Mojo's Gear, $140.

  • unknown manufacturer
  • made for the Cocoon Racing Harness
  • adaptable to all Sup’Air harnesses
  • Two clips to attach to harness
  • pocket for in-flight access to radio or camera
  • instrument panel on top

Whew. I typed most of that with 2 fingers plus a thumb, balancing Aren on my knee with the other hand. Fatherhood brings new skills...


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