From the enclosed cockpit of a powered aircraft, perhaps single-engine piston or multi engine turbine, have you ever caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye and jumped in reflex, cranking into a momentary bank the other direction? If Harley Milne can have his way with the advancement of safety in aviation, the next time you flinch at an object in your peripheral vision it will not be a paramotor pilot.
Milne is an accomplished powered paraglider (PPG) pilot with ASEL and UAS certificates, too, who has pushed boundaries and demonstrated remarkable endurance by flying his Davinci Disco 18 meter craft coast-to-coast, in each of the 50 states, and just this year a trip from Northern California to Oshkosh, WI, for AirVenture 2022.
While the first two trips were record-setting, the third set a new standard for safety. The difference was the result of a partnership between Milne and uAvionix, who are collaborating to bring small, lightweight ADS-B solutions to PPG pilots. According to Milne, many PPG pilots receive formal instruction on categories of airspace and regulations. Some of them even have ADS-B in receivers as part of their equipment, so the perception that PPG pilots may be ignorant to their surroundings is inaccurate. However, are the other airspace users ignorant to the presence of PPG pilots? If so, one way to mitigate that is by providing PPG aircraft with an ADS-B out solution. “We need people like Harley to push things forward” says Shane Woodson of uAvionix, who supplied Milne with a Ping2020i transceiver. Weighing in at 26 grams, the unit barely added to Milne’s 100 pound load on his journey to AirVenture, but it greatly increased the safety margin for him and nearby aircraft, particularly as he made the approach into KOSH.
While the process of obtaining FAA aircraft registration documents and ADS-B out approval for a PPG was not quick or easy, Milne has proven it is possible. He hopes the FAA will eventually treat PPG and part 103 aircraft registration as pragmatically as UAS registration, encouraging more aviators to equip their crafts with safety-enhancing technology for the sake of themselves and those around them.