So you’re interested in Powered Paragliding, but have questions about safety, equipment, or other general questions? You’re not alone. Read below for the most popular facts about PPG. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to call us- 480-788-0351
What is Powered Paragliding?
Powered Paragliding, also known as Paramotoring or PPG, is a form of ultralight aviation where the pilot wears a back-pack style motor with a harness or some other kind of seat (a paramotor), which spins a propellor that provides enough thrust to take off using a paraglider above them for wings. The Paramotor can be launched in still air, and on level ground, by the pilot alone — no assistance is required.
In many countries, including the United States, powered paragliding is minimally regulated and requires no license. The ability to fly both low and slow safely, the “open” feel, the minimal equipment and maintenance costs, and the portability are claimed to be this type of flying’s greatest merits. PPG is often referred to by airline pilots involved in the sport as “The purest form of flight.”
Powered paragliders usually fly between 15 to 50 mph at altitudes ranging from ‘foot-dragging’ which is basically at 1 foot, up about to 18,000 ft or more with certain permissions. Due to the paramotors moderate (slow) forward speed and nature of a soft wing, it is risky to operate in high winds, turbulence, or intense thermal activity, especially for inexperienced pilots.
The foot launch paramotor, weighing from 45 to 90 lbs, is supported by the pilot during takeoff. After a brief run (typically 10 to 50 ft) the wing lifts the motor and its harnessed pilot off the ground. After takeoff, the pilot gets into the seat and sits suspended beneath the inflated paraglider wing like a pendulum. Control is available using brake toggles for roll (turning) and airspeed control, and a hand-held throttle for pitch. Unlike regular aircraft, increasing throttle causes a pitch-up and climb (or reduced descent) but does not increase airspeed.
Is PPG crazy or dangerous?
Statistically, Powered Paragliding is safer than riding motorcycles. There is a little saying in the Paramotor world…Risk vs. Reward. Yes, there is risk, but the reward is great. Sure, there are fatalities flying paramotors, but people also die every day riding dirt bikes, street bikes, sailing boats, flying in airplanes, helicopters, etc., etc., etc. The risk is about the same, and maybe a little less. In almost every case, they were performing a stunt or doing something they shouldn’t have been doing in a very risky situation.
Another saying is “It’s about as safe as you want it to be.” If you follow the rules and don’t try to be a stuntman for YouTube, you’ll probably still be flying PPG till you can’t fly anymore because you couldn’t figure out where to attach your oxygen tank and cane.
We know people that have been flying PPG for 30+ years without incident.
Is paramotoring all it’s cracked up to be?
Paramotoring will, without a doubt, be the coolest, most exhilarating thing you will ever do. It is truly the purest form of flight and nothing compares to it. Nothing. Many Paramotor Pilots say they wish they discovered Paramotoring way sooner.
What happens if your motor stops working while flying?
Nothing… other than floating back to earth. The great thing about flying Paramotors is you have that canopy (wing) open overhead, so if you motor quits for whatever reason, you simply quickly scope out a place to land, perform some S-turns above your chosen spot, and and touch down.
There are other things that can cause a forced landing, but they are very rare.
Motor out’s are probably the most frequent causes of forced landings but it rarely happens if you take care of your machine and do thorough preflight checks. If you treat your machine like a lawn mower (only fix things then they break), you’ll eventually have issues that you could have prevented with a little maintenance. We go over this in training at length.
Do I need a license or registration?
Powered paragliding requires no license or certification in ‘Merica (At least for now). It has always been so in the USA. You can literally go online, buy one, and jump into the sky.
Do we recommend that? Absolutely not.
Many wannabe paramotor pilots have lost appendages and received horrible injuries from doing just that. The training regiment is usually pretty lengthy and detailed. It’s best to know what you’re doing before attempting to fly one of these things, and training will help you avoid risk.
As for regulations, there is one small section in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) that governs PPG. It is called FAR 103 (click on the link to read it).
The licensing and registration threshold is based on weight and fuel capacity. As long as our aircraft are under a specific weight and hold less than 5 gallons of fuel, we are considered Powered Paragliders, and subject only to FAR 103.
The one provision requiring an exception from the FAA is to carry passengers. Once you obtain this exception (referred to as a Tandem Exception), there are still only certain reasons you can fly with a passenger. You can’t accept payment for carrying passengers. Some tandem pilots do accept payment to as a reimbursement for fuel costs related to the flight, which is acceptable.
How can I know if PPG is for me?
Well, the truth is… paramotors aren’t for everyone.
However, just about anyone with a brain can learn to fly one. It’s not rocket science.
You just need to have decent hand-eye coordination, fairly quick response time and a desire to fly. If you come with ego, or just have a hard time listening to instruction, you’ll have some trouble.
Also, it takes commitment and hard work. Yes, flying is easy, but launching and landing will take some practice/work. If you can’t perform a little physical labor and have at least some grit, perhaps try basket-weaving or crochet.
Lastly, you will need to dedicate some of your time to learning. If you decide you want to do this, and you think only a couple hours of youtube is enough, do something else.
It takes a minimum of 16 hours of study and practice to become proficient at a beginner level to safely and successfully launch and land a Paramotor.
Additionally, If you do 4 hours of training, then wait a month or two to continue, you will likely forget some of what you previously learned and have to take two steps back. It’s best to do contiguous weekends or days to learn and develop the physical coordination it takes to fly.
I am deathly afraid of heights!
There are basically two primary phobias (fears) associated with heights. The first is called Acrophobia… the fear of sitting, standing or looking over a ledge, like on a rooftop, ladder, or peering over a high cliff.
The second is called Aerophobia, associated with the fear of flying. Your subconscious mind knows the difference. You can be deathly afraid of a ledge, but not afraid of flying at all.
Do you fly on airplanes without fear? Good news! You can probably fly Paramotors. Your first solo might be kind of intimidating, but you’ll want to go right back up after your first landing! For most people, there is a mental switch that gets flipped after your first flight. Your brains says: “It’s ok, I am getting lift.”
After my Training Sessions, are you still available?
Of Course! Our training isn’t just an event, it’s a process. the first 4 days of that process are formal instruction. We will make ourselves available to help you progress. Aside from that, we want to fly with you regularly to help you along. Also, we love to fly, especially with our students.
Where can I fly?
Pretty much any wide open space unless it is designated as controlled or restricted airspace.
Paramotors are generally flown in Class G and E airspace–which is a LOT of area. Of course, you don’t want to shimmy into a Military Ops Area (MOA) or you might acquire a missile or a drone as your wingman.
Our training will teach you exactly where you should and shouldn’t attempt to fly. You’d be surprised how much territory is available to fly, especially here in the southwest.
It is said that Arizona is one of the most flyable US States.
How long will it take me to learn to fly?
That totally depends on your ability to pick up the concepts, how much time you have and how coordinated you are.
Some people are in the air in 4 days, some in 10, and some never get airborne. If you have to drop training for a while, you might pick it back up in a few months or the following year. No biggie (although significant review might need to occur, costing more money and time).
After your initial training, you’ll undoubtedly continue to learn over the next few years, and basically, never stop learning.
How hard is this sport on my body?
If you’re asking if you need to be in shape, it certainly helps.
If you can (slowly) jog a hundred yards without having to stop, you’re probably fine.
If you are significantly overweight, or have knee/hip/joint replacements, you should probably look into Trike Paramotors. Trikes are a bit safer, and easier on your body.
What kind of motor and fuel do paramotors use?
Most paramotors use very light, 2-stroke engines designed specifically for Paramotors. Some now use 4-stroke engines, but most of those are heavier and require a trike or quad because they are generally too heavy to carry. One of the drawbacks (at least we think so) to a 2-stroke is they can be finicky. Another is the need for mixed fuel. Fuel is usually oil mixed anywhere from 32-to-1, to 66-to-1 ratio, depending on manufactures recommendation. After you get used to this concept, it is less of a pain. Most pilots use 91 octane pump gas. We do. Brady goes a step further and uses non-ethanol fuel. Chance likes to use 91 octane Chevron gas due to the Techron additive, which has a detergent that loosens deposits in your motor and prevents overheating.
Are paramotors loud?
Yes. Yes they are. Decibels high as 150db (this is deafening). That is one of the reasons we wear helmets with ear cups to dampen the sound. You hope to reduce the db of sound about -30db to bring it down to a bearable level. Sometimes that’s not enough and you need to put earplugs in as well.
Do you sell paramotors and/or wings?
Yes. We are dealers of several different brands of paramotors and wings and can help you get whatever you’re interested in. It’s totally up to you, and we’re not going to force you to purchase the types we fly or train with. We’re more than happy to share our opinions on all brands we’ve personally flown and even seen in the market throughout the years. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and they have different selling points. We’ll help as much or as little as you like.
Can I rent gear to train with or do I have to bring my own?
We have gear you can train with for an additional $500, which covers a full course (16 hours). However, if you want to bring your own, that’s even better! Because we want you to be as comfortable as possible when training. We’ll want to look over your gear to make sure it’s safe and will want to know how long you’ve had it and how many hours are on the gear if you bought it used.