A Guide to Powered Paragliders: How They Work

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It almost seems too good to be true.

Being able to fly sounds like a superhero power straight from the movies. But the truth is it’s within reach.

You may not be rescuing anyone from a burning building soon. However, you can enjoy the views from above by trying out powered paragliding.

If you’ve ever dreamed of taking flight but aren’t sure how you can get into this sport, then we’ve got answers. Read on to learn how powered paragliders work and how you can fly away in one of your very own!

Take Flight

If you’ve always dreamed of flying but getting your pilot’s license has been out of reach, then consider a powered paraglider or a paramotor. These aircraft don’t require a license to fly and you can learn to fly one in under a week.

They’re also affordable to purchase. According to the United States Powered Paragliding Association, you’ll spend between $4,000-$12,000 for the motor and $1,800-$4,500 for the wing.

There are two different types of paramotors. You can opt for a “foot-launch” style where you wear a two-stroke motor on your backpack. With this type of paramotor, you will need to run on foot to become airborne. This is the most popular type of powered paraglider.

The other type is called a quad or trike. In this version, the motor is mounted on a go-kart type vehicle. You will want to discuss which style paramotor is right for you with a professional.

Anyone Can Do It

One of the nice things about powered paragliders is that you don’t have to be a thrill-seeker to enjoy them. In fact, paramotors are all about slow leisurely flights. You can just take your time and breathe in the fresh air.

It will probably be one of the most incredible experiences of your life!

Unfortunately, just because you can learn to fly a quad in 3 to 5 days and a foot launch in 5 to 7, doesn’t mean that you should learn from just anybody. Since no inspections or license is required, you should be sure you get lessons by a teacher who is certified by the USPPA.

Some people new to the sport will fall for scams by trainers who aren’t certified. Don’t be fooled by one-day crash courses or offers of free training. You won’t be ready to fly on your own after one lesson.

Also, keep in mind that you should never try to teach yourself how to fly a powered paraglider. Even if you already have your pilot’s license. This sport is very different than any other aviation. So never risk trying to fly one without proper training from a certified instructor.

History of Paragliding

Did you know that foot-launch style paragliding was created by the military? They wanted to teach soldiers how to safely land while parachuting. It was costly and time-consuming to have an airplane land and take off constantly to help them practice.

They first started by attaching parachutists to a truck with a tow rope. As they would pick up speed, the parachute would float higher and higher. Eventually, they would release the rope and allow them to float back to the ground.

Some of them began to make a sport out of running and jumping off cliffs then floating down. They started to perfect the parachute after many years of practice and trying different techniques. They also learned ways to keep themselves in the air longer and steer better.

The modern-day sport of paragliding we know of today was founded in Mieussy, France in 1978. It is very popular in Europe and still growing in the U.S.

Powered paragliding allows you to continue to fly using your motor to propel you through the sky. You can soar like an eagle at speeds between 25-40 mph.

How Powered Paragliders Work

As part of your training, it is important to understand how a powered paraglider works. You will be using the paraglider’s handheld throttle and brake toggles to make the paraglider gain altitude or go faster.

A powered paraglider can reach up to 18,000 feet. This the legal limit set by the FAA. You can also reach as far as 80 miles through the air. When you start running the pilot carries the 45-80 pound motor on your back. Then once you gain speed, the wing lifts the motor and pilot off the ground.

After take-off, the pilot will get into the seat that remains folded until you are airborne. You then sit suspended in the air and use the brake toggles and hand-held throttle to guide their flight.

To become a paraglider instructor or fly tandem with someone, a pilot is legally required to become certified by the United States Powered Paragliding Association (USPPA) or the Aero Sports Connection (ASC). Be sure the instructor is also thorough in their training and closely follows a syllabus.

Is Powered Paragliding Safe?

Believe it or not, it is one of the safest aviation sports out there. This is because if your engine fails, you are able to glide slowly to the ground. In fact, losing your motor will only make it impossible for you to gain altitude.

You will descend at a rate of about 3 mph and a distance of 20 mph. There are also best practices that can determine how safe paramotoring is. Just as with any sport, it is as safe as you make it.

When following recommended guidelines, like flying in the appropriate weather conditions and adhering to best practices in flight, it is very safe.

One aspect of paramotoring is remaining aware of weather and having an understanding of meteorology. You most likely cannot fly your paramotor every day since strong winds are an issue.

Ready to Take Off?

If you’re wondering where you could take off from, the answer is almost anywhere. Some paragliders will take off right from their yards. You don’t need a lot of room, just 10 to 50 feet depending on the size of your paraglider.

A pilot’s skill level, weight, and wind factors can all affect a takeoff. Also, if you are flying a quad paramotor, then you will need more like 30-125 feet to become airborne. When landing, a quad can touch down and come to a complete stop within 10-50 feet.

Practice a bit before trying to land in your backyard though. It takes skill to perfect your take-off and landing. There are also obstructions to consider such as trees and powerlines when taking off. So you will want there to be plenty of space for you to make the climb.

Get Elevated

It’s amazing just how fun and simple this sport is to enjoy! You can soar through the sky in a matter of days.

If you’re ready to train and look into purchasing one of these powered paragliders, then we are your go-to source. Let’s get you flying!

Visit our website to find quality gear and reliable paramotors. Let us know how we can help you make your dream a reality.

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