Frequently Asked Questions
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What is a Powered Paraglider?
A Powered Paraglider (Paramotor, or PPG for short), is the most amazing form of powered flying. Open air in all directions, no fuselage or rigid structure, it is the epitome of pure freedom. They are small and slow enough be launched from a small field or open area and can fit in the trunk of your car or in a suitcase. Unlike general aviation a Paramotor is inherently very stable in the air (will fly straight with no input) while also offering even greater control and precision. The pilot sits in a seat suspended below the wing by kevlar lines with the motor providing thrust at your back. Paramotoring has been in existence for 25+ years with a strong following in Europe, Asia and South American and is gaining popularity in the US.
Do you need a pilot's license?
Categorized under the “ultralight” division of aviation by the FAA, there is absolutely no license required, no age limit, and no medical requirements. We only need abide by the FAR 103 rules for ultralight aviation including not flying in controlled airspace around airports, directly over cities and towns, or at night.
What is the USPPA?
Since our sport is mostly unregulated anyone can call themselves an instructor and teach others to fly. This can cause problems, with people who really aren’t qualified to teach putting their students at risk. It can also make it tricky for you, the student, to know who to trust and which so called “instructors” really know what they’re doing. The USPPA (United States Powered Paragliding Association) was founded with the goal to create a training syllabus and rating program to make sure its instructors have a thorough training program and the skills and experience needed to safely teach this sport to others. We are proud to be certified instructors by the USPPA.
Is it safe?
Any form of Aviation is obviously more dangerous than sitting in your easy chair. But Powered Paragliding is one of aviation's safest and most rewarding forms. Some studies have placed the risk slightly higher than driving a car and less than riding a motorcycle, and the risk can be significantly reduced with proper training and good decision making skills.
Is it hard to fly?
Paramotoring isn’t difficult or hard to do, but launching and landing does take some skill. Think of it like riding a bike, when you first tried it as kid it seemed extremely hard, even impossible. But with proper guidance and some practice it soon becomes like second nature.
Can’t I just learn to fly on my own?
Legally you could. Logically you shouldn’t. And if you’re smart you won’t. Paramotoring is a learned skill (like riding a bike) and is unlike anything you’ve done before. And flying isn’t something you want to learn by trial and error. Most pilots will agree that self-training will lead to more expense in equipment damage than training would cost - even if you escape without injury.
How high can you fly?
The short answer is “as high as you want”. In the US the legal limit is 18,000 ft and the world record is somewhere in the 30,000 range. Your wing and motor combination will determine your exact rate of climb and how high you will be able to go. But I think you’ll find the most fun is to be had in the 100’ to 500’ foot range where the amazing sense of freedom and adventure can be fully appreciated.
How fast do they fly?
Most beginner gliders will fly at a constant 25-30 mph with takeoff and landings at a much slower speed and easily done on foot. More advanced performance gliders can fly much faster, even over 50 mph! Bigger more powerful motors have no effect on speed as more power only translates to a faster climb rate.
How do you take off and land?
Takeoffs are done on foot with the motor strapped to your back and the glider laid out behind you. As you run forward into the wind the glider inflates and hangs in the air above your head lifting the weight of the motor off your back. As you add power the motor pushes you forward and into the air! Landings are usually performed with the motor turned off and when done properly can be gracefully completed in just a few steps.
What happens if the motor shuts off mid-air?
You are under a very efficient glider (typically a 9 to 1 glide ratio) so as long as you are flying within gliding distance of a field or open area a motor out is nothing more than a mere inconvenience. Most of our landings are performed with the motor shut off at a couple hundred feet anyway.
Do I have to be very athletic?
The motor does most of the work so you definitely don’t have to be an athlete to participate in our sport. But you should be able to handle the weight of the motor and be able to move around easily. Anyone can do this! Women, children from 13 to 73, you just need to want to fly!
What weather can I fly in?
As very small light aircraft we are greatly affected by wind and turbulence in the air. Paramotoring is best enjoyed in calm light wind, and most of our flying is done in the first or last 2 hours of the day. With experience and proper gear you can expand your boundaries to fly midday and in higher winds, but it’s important you understand the risks and have good knowledge of the weather first.
What if I have a fear of heights?
You’ll be surprised to find that a lot of pilots DO have a fear of heights. But this usually doesn’t translate to Paramotoring where you sit comfortably in your harness and have complete control. Flying is defying falling! But if you’re concerned about it ask us about a tandem flight first.
How much does it cost?
Paramotoring is one of the most affordable forms of aviation, with our complete beginner units starting at $7,800 ($9,600 including training). It can even be done on a budget with used gear, or fixer-uppers. The most expensive full units with a high-end glider, and the Ferrari of Paramotors can cost close to $20,000.
What equipment should I buy?
You should choose the instructor team you want to learn from first, instead of being concerned with investing in equipment in which you may not yet understand, especially when gear is a much larger investment than training. If your school-of-choice offers free top quality rentals as part of your training as we do, there is no reason to make the all-too-common mistake of purchasing expensive and perhaps inappropriate gear before you even get started. Once you have 8-10 flights and are comfortable in the air, we can offer you unbiased advice on new or used gear appropriate to your physical ability, aptitude, weight, and flying style. We hope to help connect you with exactly the gear you need, whether it is new, used, from us or not. Contact us to get started.