What is a Powered Paragliding (PPG)?
A Powered Paraglider is the most simplest, economical and exhilarating form of aviation. A PPG is a foot-launched inflatable wing, similar to a skydiving canopy. It is easy to transport, to launch, and to land. The pilot is clipped into a harness, which is quite comfortable while sitting. The motor is a backpack unit (weighing about 50-75lbs) with a propeller to give thrust or climb and fly level. Paramotoring has been in existence for 25+ years with roots in Europe and gaining popularity here in the US.
Do you need a license to fly?
Paragliding is a self-regulated sport, so you are not required to be certified. Getting good training is, however, paramount to personal safety as well as avoiding restricted airspace. However, not getting proper training is a sure way to trouble. The USA regards Paramotoring, as Ultralight Aircraft, and must follow the rules of ultralights in FAR Part 103.
What is the USPPA?
Since our sport is mostly unregulated anyone can call themselves an instructor and teach others to fly. This can cause problems, with people who really aren’t qualified to teach. It can also make it tricky for you, the student, to know who to trust and which “instructors” really know what they’re doing. The USPPA (United States Powered Paragliding Association) was founded with the goal to create a training syllabus and rating program to make sure its instructors have a thorough training program and the skills and experience needed to safely teach this sport to others. We are proud certified instructors by the USPPA.
Is it safe?
Any form of Aviation is obviously more dangerous than staying home. But Powered Paragliding is one of aviation's safest and most rewarding forms. Some studies have placed the risk slightly higher than driving a car and less than riding a motorcycle, and can be significantly reduced with proper training and good decision making skills. Remember, no one is perfect and can't make the correct decisions all the time. Ask any pilot if they've had a perfect flying record. With most sports, it's as safe as you make it.
Is it hard to learn to fly?
Paramotoring isn’t difficult, but launching and landing takes some skill. It's like riding a bike, when you first try it seems hard to balance, but with proper practice & guidance it will become second nature.
Can’t I just learn to fly without an Instructor?
Legally you can. Logically you shouldn’t. And if you’re smart you won’t. Paramotoring is a learned skill (like riding a bike) and is unlike anything you’ve done before. And flying isn’t something you want to learn by trial and error. Most pilots will agree that self-training will lead to more expense in equipment damage than training would cost - even if you escape without injury.
How high can you fly?
In the US the legal limit is up to 18,000 ft.! Your wing and motor combination will determine your exact rate of climb and how high you will be able to go. Above 13,000 you would need supplemental oxygen as well. I think you’ll find the most joy will be had in the 100’ to 1,000’ foot range where the amazing sense of freedom and adventure can be fully appreciated.
How fast do they fly?
Most beginner gliders will fly at a constant 20-30 mph with takeoff and landings at a much slower speed and easily done on foot. More advanced performance gliders can fly much faster, even over 50 mph! Bigger more powerful motors have no effect on speed as more power only translates to a faster lift/climb rate.
How do you take off and land?
Takeoffs are done on foot with the motor strapped to your back and the glider laid out behind you. As you run forward into the wind the glider inflates and hangs in the air above your head lifting the weight of the motor off your back. As you add power the motor pushes you forward and into the air! Landings are usually performed with the motor turned off and when done properly can be gracefully completed in just a few steps. Trike and or Quad sitting units are also available for those that are unable to foot launch.
What happens if the motor shuts off mid-air?
It’s a glider, and glide it will! The loss of power only limits your ability to maintain altitude. The glider flies about 6 feet forward for every foot lost (a 6 to 1 glide ratio). So you’ll be dropping just over 3 mph as you glide forward at about 20 mph. With even moderate skill it can be landed in quite a small space too. A motor failure is rarely more than an inconvenience. Most of our landings are performed with the motor shut off at a couple hundred feet anyway.
Do I have to be physically fit?
The motor does most of the work so you definitely don’t have to be an athlete to participate in our sport. But you should be able to handle the weight of the motor and be able to move around easily. Anyone can do this! Anyone from 18 to 80, you just need to want to fly! Click Here for Physical & Mental Requirements.
Can I Fly Everyday?
Most likely not. Strong wind and turbulence restrict our sport. On average, you can expect 2-3 days per week of flyable conditions depending on where you live. Some locations are flyable 6+ days per week. As very small light aircraft we are greatly affected by wind and turbulence in the air. Paramotoring is best enjoyed in calm light wind, and most of our flying is done in the first or last 2 hours of the day. With experience and proper gear you can expand your boundaries to fly midday and in higher turbulent winds, but it’s important you understand the risks and have good knowledge of the weather first.
What if I'm scared of heights?
Several pilots have a fear of heights. This typically doesn’t translate to flying Paramotors most of the time. But if you’re worried about it, come take a tandem flight with us first and enjoy the taste of flight.
How much does it cost for Training and Gear?
Training to PPG2 (25 flights) is $2,500 We don't offer rental gear at this time, so we will evaluate your needs and get you paired up with the correct gear. Beginner motor & wing packages start at $9,950 + tax and go up to $15,000 (smaller pilots get a slight advantage on pricing as larger motors & wings for larger pilots cost more). We sometimes have used equipment available at a reduced price. Financing is available with approved credit (see below on Financing Training and gear).
What equipment should I purchase?
You should first choose the appropriate instructor for yourself. Interview them and make sure both student and instructor mesh well together. Don't be concerned with gear until you speak with your instructor. We find all too often people will buy gear off the internet and it's typically not the correct size for them or their ability.
How long does it take to get my PPG2 rating? We train in the morning, evenings and weekends when weather permits and schedules line up. Some pilots have finished their PPG2 in as little as 3 months. Some have taken up to a 1 year. Any training that exceeds 1 calendar year will be billed at $200 per session. Private 1-2 weeks sessions are available and held here in Oklahoma. We can also come to you for the price of travel expenses.
When Do you Train? Apex publishes training times and days, but highly recommends you scheduling the time and day in advance. We will work with your schedule as best as possible, as everyone's has different times of availability.
Can I finance my training or gear? With good credit you might be able to finance your gear with a Credit Card, PayPal Finance, Lightstream or your local bank. Most financial institutions will not finance your training costs.
Do I need to know how to work on two stroke engines? If you can't, you will slowly learn how to do basic maintenance and turning a wrench. These motors vibrate significantly, so it's not like operating a weed eater and not much maintenance required. Here are items that you will maintain and preflight: Carburetors, Meters, Pull starters and or Electrical Starters and Components, Spark Plugs, Springs, Exhaust and Brackets, Belts, Gears, Rubber isolators, Propeller, Throttle, Any and all rubber components, Paramotor Frame and Netting, Liquid containers and delivery hoses and filters just to name a few items. We abuse the machines and daily care needs to be taken. We have a great group of local pilots as well as FB Groups to help assist with common issues of a paramotor.
Warranty and Spare Parts? Most paramotors come with a one year warranty, normal wear and tear are not covered under this warranty. A maintenance log needs to be kept for warranty issues. Warranty claims aren't like car claims. Manufactures will need to see a log of everything that has been done to your paramotor. It's a good idea to have basic spare parts, so you don't have a lag in downtime of waiting on parts.