Paramotoring goes by a few different names interchangeably including paramotoring, powered paragliding, and ppg. It is the motored (powered) version of paragliding where a pilot sits seated in a harness suspended under a canopy (aka wing or paraglider) and is propelled by a propellor driven motor. Paramotors come in two versions; a backpack unit called a foot-launch paramotor and a wheel-launch version sometimes called a trike. A paramotor is defined as an “ultralight vehicle” by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can you fly a paramotor?
Paramotors can be launched from most open pieces of flat land. With high skill, pilots can successfully launch and land from much smaller areas. Paramotors can be flown in uncontrolled airspace (Class G and most Class E airspace) and cannot be flown over congested areas of people or restricted areas. Additional areas may be off-limits in the event of a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) as noted in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). In the United States, paramotors are allowed to fly up to 18,000 feet due to airspace restrictions. Outside of the US, pilots have made records of flight over 25,000 feet. Most pilots tend to enjoy flying between 300-1,000 feet where the freedom to explore is best experienced. A thorough training program should teach pilots how identify safe and legal areas to fly.
When can a paramotor be flown?
Most paramotor flight is done in nice weather conditions. Stable winds below 10mph make for the best flying and generally occur within a 2-3 hour daylight window around sunrise and sunset. Many locations in the US will regularly have 3 flying days a week where some may even have 6+. Other locations will only be able to fly seasonally. Paramotors can be flown during the twilight periods 30 minutes before official sunrise and 30 minutes after official sunset if equipped with an anticollision light (strobe) that can be seen for at least 3 statute miles.
Is a license or certification required to fly a paramotor?
No. Paramotor pilots are regulated by FAA Federal Aviation Regulation 103 for Ultralight Vehicles. As long as a paramotor pilot abides by these regulations, they are allowed to fly without needing a medical certificate, pilot license, training, or registration. A quality training program will ensure a new pilot obtains both the physical skills required and also the necessary knowledge on weather, regulations, airspace, safety, and more.
Can pilots take up passengers when flying a paramotor?
Yes and no. In order for a paramotor to qualify as an Ultralight Vehicle under the FAA regulations, equipment is limited to single occupancy. After gaining experience as a paramotor pilot, a pilot can apply for ratings and complete further training which will allow them to obtain a waiver called a “tandem exemption.” This waiver allows certified pilots to take a single passenger up on flights for non-commercial instructional purposes. Currently the two organizations that tandem certification can be obtained through are the USPPA and the ASC. In both of these organizations, pilot proficiency must be proved and instructor certificates obtained before the pilot has reached the level where they can then be trained for a tandem exemption.
How long can a paramotor fly?
Length of flight will depend on the specific equipment’s fuel capacity (5 gallons max in the US) and the efficiency of flight. Most foot launch paramotor configurations have the capacity to fly 3 or more hours when fully fueled and at moderate throttle. Typical paramotor flights last between 20 minutes and one hour but with full fuel and the right thermal and lift conditions, flight could be extended by several hours.
How much does paramotoring cost?
Getting into paramotoring would be similar in cost as getting a motorcycle. Up front costs including gear and training can range from $5,000 to upwards of $15,000. As with all activities, there is a considerable range of options that can suit many different types of pilot needs and budget. Once a new pilot has their gear and is proficiently flying, the ongoing costs are relatively low. Both motor and glider wing are capable of flying for hundreds of hours with proper care. Most training programs provide gear for students to learn on and offer education to assist new pilots in determining which gear will work best for their individual size, weight, flying regions, desired type of flight, skill, and more.
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