Paramotoring or “Powered Paragliding” (PPG) is the latest in foot-launched ultralight aircraft. Around since the early 80s, Paramotoring has its origins in hang gliding and is an evolution of paragliding. While a standard paraglider is reliant on hills and the use of thermal conditions to self-launch, adding an engine enables take off to be achieved within a few paces from any suitable flat field.
A fundamental skill in learning to fly a Paramotor is ground handling or ‘kiting’ the glider. You’ll learn all of the basics while remaining on the ground. Lots of practice responding to the glider and wind conditions will help build confidence and your instructor will help you progress quickly. Once you have the control to keep the glider overhead you’ll start short low-level airborne ‘hops’ with a tow or hill launch.
Adding a Paramotor to your back adds another element into the mix and there is a technique for you to master when relying on the engine to lift you into the air. Your instructor will give you a comprehensive introduction to your machine and help you fully understand the various adjustments available to configure the Paramotor for your physique and optimum flying style.
A convergence of skills learnt over the past few days and the right conditions find you ready to take that first solo flight. You stand one leg forward with arms outstretched listening for instructions to come over your radio headset. Your instructor has three fingers outstretched; each digit ready to count you down to your first ever Paramotor launch.
Knowledge makes you a better pilot and your course will give you a general understanding of some of the basic facts, concepts, scientific principles and language relating to meteorology and weather forecasting. You’ll explore the laws and regulations that govern our sport with an introduction to airspace rules, aeronautical charts and navigational skills.
Check the forecast and be prepared. The right clothing on a chilly, windy day can make the difference. Layering helps you regulate your personal temperature during those more physical activities when the heart rate increases.
Drink some water and eat something - paramotoring requires a degree of physical activity, you're going to burn some calories for sure. It’s worth having a bottle of water at hand when out on the field too.
Getting your gear together and walking across the field to your meeting spot can take a little longer than you think. And if you're there with time to spare, get to know your instructor, and let them get to know you.
Your Paramotor instructor is just as excited to teach you to fly as you are to learn. Relax, open up and enjoy yourself. The best student is the one having the most fun!
Parajet offers two Paramotor airframes – the Zenith and Volution – both are available with a wide choice of engines. It is import for your safety and enjoyment to choose an engine that has the right amount of power. The primary factor in determining your engine choice is your in-flight weight, but there are other considerations including the altitude of your launch site and your physical abilities.
If your engine has insufficient power, your take off run will be longer and you’ll need a bigger launch site. If you do get airborne, you may not have adequate climb power to safely avoid obstacles. Although more thrust can make launching easier, powerful engines can be heavier, making handling on the ground more challenging. Bigger engines can be less efficient and will require more fuel impacting weight, flight time and range.
Engine manufacturers are continually improving their designs with significant improvements in weight and performance. However, it is worth noting that the horse power quotes from manufacturers are not always accurate.
The paraglider wing is known in aeronautical engineering as a ‘ram-air airfoil’. The glider is made up of two surfaces which are connected to internal supporting material in such a way as to form a row of cells. By leaving most of the cells open only at the leading edge, incoming air keeps the glider inflated, thus maintaining its shape. When inflated, the glider’s cross-section has the typical teardrop aerofoil shape. Paraglider wings are made of high-performance non-porous materials such as ripstop polyester or nylon fabric.
Choosing the right size glider ensures proper performance and safety. A glider that is too big will be prone to collapses in turbulence. One that is too small means your take off run will be too long and your landings will be too fast. The primary factor in determining your glider size is your in-flight weight. Typically, paramotor pilots should choose a glider that places them as close as possible to the upper end of the manufacturer’s weight range for a responsive and safe glider.
For peace of mind many pilots fly with a reserve parachute which offers a last chance survival option in the unlikely case of a catastrophic wing failure or pilot error. Manufactured to high safety standards, the canopy is made of the latest, high quality materials and has been designed to deliver a comfortable descent rate. The reserve can be mounted in several different places for easy access in an emergency.
The reserve bridle is attached to the harness in such a way as to avoid entanglement during deployment. Parajet strongly advise proper installation by an experienced instructor or pilot and regular inspection to ensure correct working order.
Parajet strongly recommend, and many Paramotor instructors insist, that pilots wear a protective helmet during both ground handling and during flight. When choosing your helmet, it is important to get the right size.
The helmet should not be loose which could obstruct your view, but neither so tight that you feel a continuous pressure on your head. Many good paramotoring helmets have high quality ear defenders to help cancel out engine noise. Some helmets can also be fitted with a radio communications headset for use with PMR and Airband radios. Many headsets feature a push-to-talk function either handheld or integrated into the headset unit itself.
The industry offers a large number of gadgets and gizmos to compliment your flying experience. All of them have pros and cons but a key thing to remember is that if you bring it, you will have to carry, launch and fly with it. The best suggestion is to start small, adding additional equipment adds weight and a level of risk; things can come loose, be dropped and fall off.
Some accessories worth considering include a sturdy pair of boots; a good pair of gloves, a well-insulated jacket or flying suit to help maintain body temperature, a tachometer to help monitor engine hours and aid in maintenance schedules and a wind speed metre to help assess flying conditions.