Powered paragliding

Powered paragliding

Powered paragliding, also known as paramotoring, is a form of ultralight aviation where the pilot wears a motor on his or her back (a paramotor) which provides enough thrust to take off using a paraglider wing paraglider. It 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 low equipment and maintenance costs, and the portability are claimed to be this type of flying's greatest merits. [cite book
last = Goin
first = Jeff
editor = Dennis Pagen
title = The Powered Paragliding Bible
publisher = Airhead Creations
year = 2006
isbn = 0-9770966-0-2
url = http://www.footflyer.com

Powered paragliders usually fly between 15 and 45 mph (25 and 70 kph) at altitudes from 'foot-dragging in the grass' up to 18,000 ft (5400 m) although most flying is done under 500 ft (150 m) AGL (above ground level). [cite web
publisher = U.S. Powered Paragliding Association.
title = Paramotoring Questions Answered
date = 2006-07-27
url = http://www.usppa.org/Resources/WantToFly.htm
accessdate = 2007-01-24
] Because of the low forward speed possible and sensitivity to crosswinds, paramotoring is impractical for most of the year over much of the globe, and is generally a summer sport.

The paramotor, weighing from 45 to 80 pounds (20 to 36 kg) is supported by the pilot during takeoff but then, after a brief run (typically 10 feet or 3 metres), the wing lifts the motor and its harnessed pilot off the ground. After takeoff, the pilot gets into the seat (previously folded for takeoff) and sits suspended beneath the inflated paraglider wing. Control is available using brake toggles in each hand and a hand-held throttle.

Prices for a complete package (wing, harness, and motor) vary from approximately $6000 USD to $9500 USD.

License and training

Neither a license nor specific training is required in the U.S., U.K. or many other countries. But getting thorough instruction is still very important. Countries that require formal certification frequently do so through non-government ultralight organizations.

For a pilot to get through most organization's full pilot syllabus requires from one to four weeks. A number of techniques are employed for teaching although most include getting the student familiar with handling the wing either on small hills or on tandem flights.

With special gear it is possible to take a second person but most countries, including the U.S., require some form of certification to do so.


In most countries, paramotor pilots operate under simple rules that spare them certification requirements for pilot and gear. Those laws, however, limit where they can fly--specifying that pilots remain in sparsely populated areas where risk to other people or aircraft is limited. U.S. pilots operate under Federal Aviation Administration regulation Part 103.


Research done by the USPPA estimates that the activity is statistically safer than riding motorcycles and more dangerous than riding in cars. The most likely cause of serious injury is body contact with a spinning propeller. The next most likely cause is flying perfectly good gear into something other than the landing zone. Some pilots carry a reserve parachute designed to open in as little as 50 ft.

The lack of established design criteria for these aircraft led the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch to conclude in 2007 [UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch [http://www.aaib.dft.gov.uk/cms_resources/S4%20-2007%20Paramotor.pdf "Bulletin S4/2007 Special"] , August 2007] that

Only when precise reserve factors have been established for individual harness/wing combinations carrying realistic suspended masses, at load factors appropriate to the manoeuvres to be carried out, can these aircraft be considered to be structurally safe.


In the USA, the sport is represented primarily by the US Powered Paragliding Association (USPPA) which also holds an exemption allowing two-place training using foot launched paramotors. The US Ultralight Association (USUA) and ASC also offer some support. "Unpowered" paragliders are represented by the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) which distanced itself from any motorized flying in 2006.

In the U.K., the sport is represented by the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA).

A powered paraglider differs from a powered parachute (PPC) because the powered paraglider uses a highly efficient, but more difficult to manage, wing (paraglider). Wing efficiency allows for a light-enough motor to be carried on the pilot's back for footlaunching. Powered parachutes use less efficient wings that are easier to manage but require more power. Light-weight carts or "trikes" can be mounted on powered paragliders for those who prefer not to, or are unable to, foot launch. PPG's are typically hand steered and PPC's are typically foot steered.

World records

Determined by the FAI, RPF1 category. [ [http://records.fai.org/microlight/current.asp?id=RPF1 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) - Microlight World Records ] ]

* The current world altitude record for powered paragliders (RPF1) is 6,102m (20,019 ft). It was set by Ramon Morillas Salmeron (Granada, Spain) on 06/10/2006 while flying an Advance Omega 7 paraglider and a PAP 1400 Ross power unit.

* A highly publicized altitude record attempt was made by Bear Grylls on 14 May 2007 at 0933 local time over the Himalayas using a parajet engine invented by Giles Cardozo who also flew in the attempt. Giles had engine problems that ended his climb 300m short of the record. Bear went on to 8,990m (29,494ft) which, if validated by the FAI, will become the new world altitude record for this aircraft class. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6666889.stm BBC NEWS | UK | Flying over the top of the world ] ]

* Distance in a straight line without landing : 1105 km (686 miles) set on 23/04/2007 by Ramon Morillas Salmeron flying from Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz (Spain) to Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain) with an Advance Omega 7 paraglider.


Many forums exist online that support the powered paragliding sport. A forum can be a good place to connect with other pilots and enthusiasts, ask questions, and find an instructor.

ee also

* Ultralight trike
* Hang gliding
* Powered hang glider
* Powered parachute
* Kite types
* Kite line
* Kite
* Kite applications


External links

* [http://www.x-pilot.info X-Pilot Finnish Powered Paragliding Assoc.]
* [http://www.usppa.org United States Powered Paragliding Assoc.]
* [http://www.usua.org United States Ultralight Assoc.]
* [http://www.ushga.org United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Assoc.]
* [http://www.paramotorclub.org Free Paramotor forum, Paramotor training blogs, advantages of independent instruction

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