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  1. I'm trying to converge on the best choices of paramotor and components for high altitude flying. I have drawn some inferences, but they may be way off. So I hope others with more experience will chime in with suggestions. Situation. The location is the Atacama Andes high desert (northern Chile, southeast Bolivia and thereabouts). The lower portions of the valleys between mountains is typically 4000 to 4500 meters altitude (13,000 to 15,000 feet) and the mountaintops are typically 5000 to 6200 meters altitude (16,500 to 20,000 feet). Fortunately the general topography is not crazy-rugged mountains with not a square millimeter of flat. Instead, most of the mountains are dormant volcanoes or similar shape with moderate slopes tapering off in all directions, and tons of flat to gently rolling topography in the generously wide valleys between mountains. That's a bit of a simplified description, but fairly accurate. In other words, one could lose engine almost anywhere and easily glide downward to endless easy landing sites (albeit often many tens to hundreds of kilometers from the nearest human being). While I certainly intend to enjoy flying around for fun and lots of exploration, I also have a real reason and application besides moving to and living in such a place. This area is the best place on earth for astronomical observatories. 350 days per year of clear skies, super dry air, super dark skies (no cities, towns or lights), and smooth gentle non-turbulent airflow (which ruins images for telescopes). For this reason, most of the best and largest telescopes in the world live down in this area. But they are not located on the very best sites because... no roads to the tops. While some of the mountaintops are fairly rugged, many have small to moderate areas that are fairly smooth. While those relatively smooth areas on a few mountaintops are large enough for a tiny very short takeoff airplane, most are not. Which is where paramotors enter the picture. It should be easy to land foot-launch and/or wheeled paramotors on most candidate mountains. To test sites out only requires relatively small telescopes and instrumentation that can be disassembled into components that only weight 10kg to 20kg each. And so, initial site inspection requires just me and paramotor (plus oxygen tank + mask) and detailed site testing of the best 3 to 5 sites only requires a few trips with 10kg to 20kg to deposit test equipment to perform detailed sky testing. Finally, the goal is not to find locations for billion ton telescopes (like the biggest ones located down in these parts), but to find locations to locate much smaller specialized telescopes and instrumentation that can be operated remotely (anywhere in the world) via wireless internet connection. Here too, each disassembled component can weight only 20kg to 30kg or so (or whatever is practical to haul up to 5000 to 6200 meters with a paramotor. ##### Sorry that took so long, but now you know the situation. The following are my naive inferences and questions: paramotor: whatever brand and model has the best combination of high power engine and minimal weight. i assume foot-launch to save weight? engine: prefer 4-stroke for better fuel economy & wide range of altitudes, but... weight may rule out 4-strokes. so my wild guess is the tornado280? propeller: my guess is some combination of large diameter + 3~4 blades + maybe greater tilt-angle on the blades (can't remember correct term)? wing: I have no idea, and need help on this. Obviously it needs to be optimal for very high altitude, heavy weight, and probably nothing else. other: for my safety i should carry a compressed oxygen tank + mask for ~5000+ meters?. maybe feed oxygen into the engine ~5000+ meters too? other: pull starter so i can definitely start engine when stranded somewhere. would you trust batteries & starters at 6200 meters? i assume not. other: my guess is no clutch, but that's just a guess. maybe easier to pull-start with a clutch? Fortunately the latitude is quite modest (minus 18 to 23 degrees), so either though it will obviously get very cold up that high (!at night!), it won't be insanely cold as further south (middle and southern Chile and Argentina). Nonetheless, if there is anything I need to know about operation in very cold conditions... or just sitting all night long on top of the mountain while operating the site test equipment... let me know. Obviously when I need to start the engine again after all night being cold... it needs to start. Actually, having said that, perhaps that's not even true. Assuming I can jog down a fairly steep slope (that just keeps getting steeper the further I go), maybe it would be possible to glide all the way down to the valley if the engine would not start. Is that plausible, or the most insane idea you've ever heard? Just a final note. Without paramotor, this kind of opportunity exist. Which is fairly cool, huh? It would be insanely and definitely prohibitively expensive to fly people and equipment to examine and test out a whole bunch of potential sites like these with high altitude helicopters (which I assume exist, but don't even know for sure). If you want to see what this area and topography looks like, maximize your browser to fullscreen, browse to the following page, and scroll down. And yes, the Milky Way in those photos of the ALMA radio telescopes near the bottom really does look roughly like that with your naked eye... yup, so bright you can even see colors. http://www.maxreason.com/south/south.html . I welcome any suggestions... especially from anyone who has already been crazy enough to fly to such altitudes. Bet you weren't at ground level when you flew at 6000 meters altitude!
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