Monitornet looks set to be the first security company in South Africa to use powered paragliders (or paramotors) for surveillance and security.
This is according to Riaan Struwig of Epic Aviation, who is promoting paramotors for the defence and security market, especially surveillance and visible policing. He told defenceWeb that Epic Aviation is working with Monitornet on exploring the use of paramotors for community policing and farm security. The security firm aims to train a number of its personnel to fly paramotors.
Struwig said he has seen a growing number of pilots using their machines for security, protection and surveillance. For instance, a number of pilots in Memel have been trained to fly paramotors for their community watch programme, and training has been done for mining security. Epic Aviation also trained a pilot who patrols the Lesotho/South Africa border by paramotor. A big focus is on the farming community – paramotors are being used for game counting, tracking, fence inspection, anti-poaching and combating cattle rustling.
Police forces around the world are adopting powered paragliders in ever-growing numbers, including those in Spain, the United States and China, while several countries use them in their militaries, such as Qatar and Egypt. (The South African National Defence Force also evaluated them, as did SANParks for counter-poaching.)
Epic Aviation attended the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition outside Pretoria, showcasing its products but also promoting the sport of paramotoring through display flights, including a sunset flight with an LED light around the paramotor’s frame. This was the first time paramotors have flown at AAD.
Epic Aviation is a flight school (based at Grasslands near Centurion) and paramotor distributor, but also manufactures the Spider series of paramotor frames, making it the only company in South Africa to carry out local manufacturing. Epic has just completed development of the Spider 4 frame, which will be in production by March 2019. This uses composite materials for lighter weight, but earlier Spider models with aluminium frames will still be produced.