ever since the tale of Icarus who flew on makeshift wings,
man has innately desired to fly. paramotoring also known as powered paragliding (PPG) is essentially the "wax and feathers" approach Icarus took--except for the modern age. it's the most lightweight (and cheapest) way to make a human fly in a controlled manner, and from the looks of it the most fun. the paramotor itself is usually a 2-stroke motor weighing about ~50lbs (in total + gear) that is worn like a backpack. a parasail is attached and used as a wing to generate lift so that as the motor pushes you forward, you gain altitude.
paramotoring is just about the cheapest aircraft a person could own, usually costing ~$10,000 NEW or ~$6,500 USED in total (including the parasail wing.) one of the best aspects about flying this way is that you don't need a license or really any kind of goverment stamp to fly; related: federal aviation regulations for paramotors.. just don't go flying at night or over groups of people (or over groups of people at night). that isn't to say there isn't a learning curve: almost every paramotor pilot will tell you that you need training before you fly if you want to keep yourself and others safe. to that end i've collected all i can on the subject to help myself learn as much as i can before i buy one of these, "butt fans".
Some common questions & answers:
- Q: how fast can a paramotor go? A: with the with wind, a paramotor can achieve a max speed of ~30 mph.
- Q: how long can you stay in the air? A: ~5 hours on a full tank.
- Q: what happens if the power goes out in flight? A: you glide to the ground.
- Q: how high up can you go? A: the highest heard is 30,000 ft over Mt. Everest.
- Q: how much weight can a paramotor lift? A: it depends on the size of the motor: typically 15hp = 187lbs, 25hp = 220lbs. [src]
- Q: What kind of gas does it take? A: Regular car gas with 2-stroke oil added. [src]
- Q: Do you need a license? A: No, but there are FAA regulations and training is highly reccomened.
Homework & Required Reading:
Scout's Paramotor's "Insights Into Paramotor Geometry" Lessons (30-part youtube playlist)
Public Paramotoring Groups on Facebook - probabily the most popular place online to talk about paramotors.
r/paramotor on reddit.com - great place to ask questions and find information, less populated.
Vendors & Manufactureres:
- Scout Paramotor and Scout Paramotor USA
- Aviator PPG
- Team Fly Halo
- Mojo Gear & Training
- Blackhawk Paramotor
- Find a Certified Paramotor School / Trainer
and now, storytime..
Demons of the Air by Mo Sheldon
June 24, 2004
Most incidents could be avoided by being aware of what I like to call "Demons Of The Air". These Demons come out to cause havoc with our thinking and judgement when we take to the air. They have caused significant trouble for me and other pilots. I share them with you to hopefully reduce your possibility of a future incident. Here is a list of some of the Demons I have identified to be aware and cautious of the next time you take to the air:
The 'Down Wind' and 'Cross Wind' Demons. These Demons seduce you to take-off or land or fly down or cross wind low to the ground. It's easy to get caught up in the rush of ground whizzing under you. Or to think you can pull a cross or down wind take-off or landing off. Having wheels can seem to give you added ease and protection. However, emergency landings are challenging enough in perfect conditions. And having an emergency landing in down wind or cross wind is simply a recipe for disaster, especially over rough terrain. Here are three excellent precautionary measures that have helped me to keep these Demons at bay:
- I try to always take-off and land into the wind. If the wind changes direction, I reset my gear or compensate accordingly to head directly into the wind.
- I always have enough altitude to position myself for a safe landing into the wind. This means that when I fly down or cross wind, I give myself enough altitude to safely turn and land into the wind.
- I constantly am scanning for places to safely land. For me, this habit is so ingrained it's like second nature.
The 'Density' Demon. This is a sly Demon that sneaks in to get you when you want to climb and you don't get a climb like you expect. The reality is that a rise in temperature and altitude make our wings have less lift and our motors and props produce less thrust. Even a 10 degree change in temperature can greatly affect climb rate, changing a climb from acceptable to poor. The best precaution for this Demon is to give yourself additional room on takeoff and landing and fly with a greater altitude.
The 'Invincible' Demon. This Demon plays on your ego, seducing you to push yourself and your gear beyond it's limitations. The fact is our bodies are made of soft stuff that can break and die if it is smacked too hard. A good precaution is to wear protective gear such as helmets, knee pads, pants, eyewear, and gloves. I know of 3 PPG pilots (myself included) that openly admit their helmet saved their lives in separate PPG incidents.
The 'Watch This' Demon. This Demon comes out to play when cameras and spectators (especially family) show up. Be aware that this Demon can very powerfully cloud your judgement and thinking. The best way to tell this Demon is at play is if you find yourself taking more risks beyond what you normally do or feeling more cocky than usual in front of crowds and cameras. Pushing your limits can be healthy, but I suggest practicing alone or around experienced pilots first, not in front of spectators and cameras. A powerful precaution is be able to say 'no' and choose to pack things up to fly another day.
The 'Nothing Fails' Demon. We like to think our gear will never fail us. This Demon plays on this wish. But our gear and carelessness can and do fail us. It is not uncommon for me to forget something like attaching a velcro strap or connecting a riser with a twist or forgetting to add fuel or notice a developing crack in my exhaust. The best way to control this Demon is to follow strict pre- and post-flight checks of your gear. A good pre- and post-flight inspection will catch any oversights in your set-up and spot any inevitable problems with your gear.
The 'Predictable Weather' Demon. Mother Nature does follow general patterns, but from time to time her logic throws you for a loop. Here's an example of what I'm talking about: I did a tandem flight recently in an area I have flown dozens of times in perfect morning conditions. On this flight at about 300' above ground I began to loose altitude. I went to full throttle and still I was loosing altitude. This went on for what seemed like 60 seconds where I began to seriously consider places for an emergency landing. Then suddenly, without warning I slowly started to gain altitude again. Nothing was different with the operation of my motor or wing. My only guess is I must have flown into a huge pocket of sinking air. The fact is even in perfect conditions, the air can (and will) become unpredictable. A good precaution for this Demon is to give yourself extra room to make decisions calmly and with complete control.
Be sure you are aware of your Demons. If you recognize and accept that they exist and affect you, you will greatly reduce your chances of an incident. If you ignore them, you are needlessly adding significant risk to your flying, which inevitably increases the likelihood of you having an incident.
so that's all i know about paramotoring so far. i'll add new posts as i learn, take lessions and eventually purchase one for myself. don't let your dreams be dreams!