What is a Powered Paraglider (PPG)?

PPG is the is the most amazing form of powered flight, open to the air in all directions, no fuselage, no windows, just you in complete control. It encapsulates a sense of PURE freedom, can be launched from a small field, is simple to fly and to transport, requires no licensing or medical. Unlike a traditional aircraft, a paramotor is inherently stable while offering an even greater degree of precision and control. The pilot sits in a seat, suspended by Kevlar lines attached to the glider. The paramotor attaches to the harness or the trike, and provides thrust for climbing or flying level most anywhere you wish. Powered paragliding is a mature sport in existence for 25-years, wildly popular in Europe and South America and growing in popularity in the United States. 


Is it safe?

Participation in aviation generally carries a higher degree of risk than sitting in front of television, however powered paragliding is aviation in one of its safest forms and the reward is amazing! According to researchers, the risks are somewhere between driving a motorcycle and driving a car, and is significantly reduced by completing a thorough training program, employing good decision-making skills, and being aware of your surroundings and conditions. The vast majority of paramotor pilots grow old into the sport without injury.


Is this an “extreme” sport?

As compared to typical extreme sports, absolutely not… Unless as the paramotor pilot progresses, he or she CHOOSES to increase the risk level to extreme by performing low level aerobatics and similar dangerous maneuvers. Mitigating risk is extremely easy, and good instruction will help you do so.


How fast do they fly?

Generally, a beginner glider flies at a constant 25-30 mph, but takeoffs and landings are at a much slower speed and easily done on foot. Expert rated gliders can fly significantly faster, even over 50 mph. Larger motors do not have an effect on speed, as more power simply translates into a faster climb rate.


How high do they fly?

In the U.S., airspace regulations limit our flights to below 18,000 ft. Your motor and wing combination also determines your rate of climb, and how high you can fly. Generally, paramotor pilots prefer to fly between 200-500 ft where the amazing sense of freedom and exploration can be fully absorbed. Altitude records have been set in the 30,000’ range!


What are the fitness and age requirements?

The paramotor does most of the work. If you plan to foot launch, you will need to be able to walk and run with the weight of the motor on your back before launching (45-80 lbs depending on motor selection). There are pilots who fly well into their 70's and those who begin as young as 12 years old. In flight, you are seated & relaxed with the glider carrying all the weight. No medical certification is required.


What weather can I fly in?

PPG is a fair-weather sport, generally requiring beginners to fly only in the mornings and evenings to avoid the mid-day “bumps” and also in winds typically less than 12 mph. With experience, these boundaries may be safely crossed. It is imperative your training program include an in-depth course on weather-based decision making.


Do I need a license to fly a paramotor?

Paramotoring in the U.S. is classified under the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 103, just a few pages long. No license, medical certificate or registration is required. U.S. regulations require you fly only during daylight hours, stay away from congested areas, and prohibit you from carrying passengers without a waiver. Training is crucial, and your syllabus should include an in-depth class on general regulations and airspace rules. 


Can I carry passengers?

In the U.S., passengers are prohibited from being carried on ultralight vehicles. However, U.S. Powered Paragliding Association tandem qualified instructors have an exemption to carry a single passenger for training purposes. 


What if the motor quits?

You are underneath a very efficient glider (typically 9 to 1 glide ratio, meaning nearly a mile of glide for each 500 ft of altitude), and all of your landings during training have been conducted with the motor shut-off from several hundred feet high. Therefore, so long as you have been flying within glide range of at least a larger yard or field that affords a clear touch-down zone, unplanned power loses are nothing more than a mere inconvenience. 


What kind of flying can I do from a paramotor?

Anything from gentle sightseeing and exploration to ridge soaring, slalom competition, extreme aerobatics, and even mid-day thermaling for hours on end with the motor turned off. It takes less than 10 minutes to set-up and get off the ground, and you can fly from very small spaces in the right conditions. The type of flying you do will depend on your desires, training, experience, aptitude, and level of risk exposure you are comfortable with. The portability of paramotors and gliders allows you to take them in your car anywhere you travel, or even ship to your destination ahead of time.


How much does gear cost?

For a new high quality motor and paraglider the entry level cost is around $10,000. The most expensive full set-up (which includes a carbon fiber trike, top end glider and the veritable Ferrari of paramotors) would be near $22,000. Obviously, used gear can be found for less, but requires careful shopping as paramotor and glider safety is paramount and there have been amazing technological advances in the last decade. The training fee is a small fraction of the gear investment, so we encourage anyone thinking about the sport but hesitating due to the cost of gear to at least come out and get training, an awesome experience in itself.


Is PPG the same as Parasailing or a Power Parachutes (PPC)

No, parasailing is what you do on a beach vacation where you get dragged around by a boat underneath a round parachute and you have zero control. A Powered Parachute (PPC) is the big brother to PPG. PPC’s weigh hundreds of pounds, are wheel launched only, most of them require a pilot license as well as a large trailer to transport, are significantly more expensive for initial purchase, training and operating costs, and fly under a less efficient & less maneuverable glider. An advantage is that properly licensed PPC pilots flying a properly registered aircraft may carry a passenger. 


How do I get in the air safely when my first flight is a solo event?

Before your first flight, you will do many hours of launch practice, glider kiting practice, ground school, simulator practice, instructor demonstrations, motor-on taxiing, etc. You will not get into the air until you are ready and our instructional staff agrees that you demonstrate the skill and confidence to succeed. The hardest part of the sport truly is the launch, because once off the ground, gravity and pendular effect make the PPG inherently stable and very easy to fly. You will be guided through your first flights via the encouraging, calm, and confident voice of your instructor who will be on radio with you throughout the entire event guiding you back to a safe landing each time


What else will I need to start training?

Generally, light clothing, a pair of sunglasses, a hat, and high-top shoes that provide some ankle support and of course a great attitude. Training can be challenging at times, but the end result is SO rewarding, and we will always cater to your individual needs including necessary breaks.


Who can I fly with?

The paramotor community consists of a diverse group of men and women who share a passion for flying. Getting involved in the sport presents an opportunity to meet an amazing bunch of people, build new friendships, and be part of a tight-knit small community. Groups of flyers congregate locally each day around the world to share the joys of flying together. In the US, dozens of local clubs exist, and there are over 20 fly-in events through the U.S. each year that cater specifically to paramotor pilots and their families who join them.