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Paramotor 101

Welcome to the wonderful world of paramotoring! We know there are a ton of great resources out there for you to learn about the sport and here’s our take on things.

 

After doing your research, check out our Training information to see if You Can Fly PPG is the right fit for you. We look forward to supporting your journey.


What are paramotors?

Paramotors (or powered paragliders) are a form of ultralight aviation where the pilot wears a back-pack motor (a paramotor) that provides enough thrust to take off using a paraglider/wing. 

 

Where can you fly a paramotor?

There are some airspace regulations around large metropolitan areas/airports (covered in detail in the ground school). However, in general, there are abundant areas to fly paramotors from. Provided you have a wide-open area on level ground with correct wind conditions, you can launch and land your paramotor. 

 

When can a paramotor be flown?

Due to thermic conditions mid-day, the safest time to fly a paramotor is in the two hours after sunrise and the  two hours before sunset, in calm conditions (up to 8mph winds). Legally, with a strobe, paramotor pilots can fly 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Ground school training modules cover weather and flying conditions in depth to ensure that you are flying in safe conditions, both during training and after. 

 

Is a license or certification required to fly a paramotor?

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not require a license or certification to fly a paramotor. Paramotors fall under Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) 103, which has several stipulations for pilots, but does not require licensure. It is, however, a good idea to seek training, which includes pilot ratings issued by the United States Powered Paraglider Association (USPPA). 

 

If I don’t need a license, can I train myself? 

While legally you can train yourself, we highly recommend finding an experienced training facility. Self-taught pilots often encounter expensive gear damage that is avoidable with proper training. Training under an instructor increases the safety margin exponentially and helps to ensure that you have longevity in the sport. 

 

How long can a paramotor fly?

Depending on the weight of the pilot and the fuel capacity of the paramotor tank, a pilot can generally fly 1-3 hours before requiring more fuel.

 

How safe is paramotoring?

Paramotoring is inherently safe, much safer than riding a motorcycle on the road. Because the wing is a glider, even if the engine quits, pilots can make safe landings by gliding to the nearest landing area. As with any sport, poor training and decision-making can lead to an increase in accidents.

 

How high can you go? 

There is a legal limit and a physical limit. In accordance with FAA Part 103, paramotor pilots can go up to but not higher than 18,000 feet MSL. Physically, you will start breathing less oxygen around 10,000 ft, increasing the chance of a blackout and risk of incident. Most pilots fly at a cruising altitude between 400 and 2,000 feet.

 

Can I carry passengers?

Taking a passenger or "tandem" flying is possible with the correct equipment and training. A special license is required and tandem flight is reserved for instructional flying.

 

What kind of weather can it handle?

We generally fly in the morning and the evening when conditions are calm (up to 8mph winds). Experienced pilots can fly in stronger conditions. Weather and wind limitations also depend on where you are. Coastal winds coming off the water are smooth and stable while winds in the mountains or over land may be turbulent and unpleasant to fly in.

 

How long does it take to learn?

With proper instruction and good weather conditions, most pilots transition from kiting (ground handling skills) to flight within 6 to 10 days. The more proficient you are at handling the wing while on the ground, the easier flight becomes. While most training schools offer training between 8 and 14 days, your flying skills will continue to develop long after training.

 

How do you takeoff/land on a Paramotor?

There are two launch techniques that you will learn in training: forward and reverse. In lower wind conditions, forward inflations allow you to run forward, inflating the glider overhead. With power added, pilots can take off after about 15 feet of running. In higher conditions, reverse inflations may be more appropriate. This launch technique allows you to inflate the glider while facing it and once stable, turning to run in the direction of the wind.

 

What type of gas do these use?

Generally, paramotor motors use the same type of gas you use in your car mixed with 2-stroke oil. It’s recommended to use the highest octane ethanol-free gas available.

 

Do I need to be a mechanic?

No. Routine seasonal maintenance like changing the spark plug, along with a thorough pre- and post-flight routine, will keep your paramotor running smoothly for a long time. For more extensive repairs, there are vast resources online to assist with any mechanical or maintenance issues. Ground school training modules cover basic engine mechanics, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

 

Do I need a truck to transport?

A truck is convenient but certainly not necessary. Many people transport their paramotor using a hitch-mounted cargo carrier or disassembling the hoop for easier transport.

 

How expensive of a hobby is this?

Paramotoring is one of the most cost-effective ways to enjoy general aviation flight. The initial cost of training is around $3000 (depending on the training school). New gear (motor+wing) will cost approximately $12,000. Used gear ranges between $8,000 - $10,000 (however, we recommend purchasing used gear with a high level of caution, ensuring it was properly maintained by the previous owner).

 

Other expenses to factor in are a helmet ($400 - $800 with comms), reserve parachute ($800+ highly recommended), gloves ($15), radio to communicate with other pilots ($35), aviation band radio ($200), GoPro or other cameras to capture your epic adventures ($200+).

 

Paramotors burn just under 1 gallon of gas per hour, so you can average the cost with oil at about $5/hour. Other maintenance costs would include new belts, spark plugs, and other minor maintenance at 25, 50, or 100 hours of flight.

 

How do I pick the right school/instructor?

The good news is that there are A LOT of good schools and instructors out there. The USPPA website and Parayelp are good places to start in your search for an instructor or school. You’ll want to talk to your potential instructor and get a feel for their style and approach, ensuring it’s a good fit for your training needs.

 

We highly recommend training where you are located. It not only allows you to get firsthand experience with the terrain and weather, but it also allows you to build an exceptional network of pilots in your area. If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to us. Even if you don't train with us, we'll give you our honest opinions about gear, training, and any concerns you may have.

 

Paramotoring is awesome!! What’s next?

So you’ve done all your research and you’re ready to take the next steps…head to our TRAINING page to find out more about You Can Fly PPG’s training. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

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