Tips to prepare for training

"Teachers can open the door, but you must enter it yourself" - Chinese Proverb

Finding the right school

There are a lot of good schools and instructors out there. Here are some tips to help you in the search for a school/instructor.

  • Ask for a syllabus. USPPA certified schools/instructors use a thorough syllabus to ensure you learn everything you need to learn. There's more to this sport than just knowing how to fly. Some of the topics you'll want to learn: basic weather/meteorology, forecasting, airspace, FAA rules and regulations (FAR 103), basic aerodynamics and wind, ground handling (kiting), basic motor maintenance, and more.
  • Ask about gear. A good instructor/school will be able to explain the pros/cons of the gear they suggest. Be cautious of anyone who says there is only one brand or option for gear. There are a lot of good choices and they all have pros and cons. When it comes to wings, some are suitable for beginners and some are not. Be sure to learn on wing that's rated for beginners and also be sure that you are within the weight range that the manufacturer recommends.
  • Talk to former students. Ask around and see what former students have to say about a particular school or instructor. If you don't like what you hear, keep searching.
  • Ask about a simulator, tandem flights, or towing. Established schools will use one or more of these useful tools to teach you some essentials before you attempt your first solo flight. A simulator allows you to practice getting into and out of your harness as well as practicing all the basic in-flight maneuvers before you're in the air on your own. A tandem flight and/or towing will allow you to practice critical skills like how to handle oscillations and the timing for your flare.


These are common questions that people have before learning to fly.

Frequently Asked Questions

You’ve come to the right place. We’ll answer the common paramotor questions and help you avoid traps that sometimes befall new entrants in our sport. Powered Paragliding (paramotoring) is the simplest form of flight: no plane, no windows, just you floating on air. A powered paraglider is a foot-launched or wheel launched inflatable wing. It is easy to transport, easy to launch, and easy to land. The paraglider itself has no rigid structure and the pilot is suspended by lines. The pilot is clipped into a harness, which is quite comfortable. The motor is a backpack unit with a propeller to give thrust allowing you to climb and fly level at your own will.

No. Paramotoring in the United States falls under Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) part 103. It states that no license, medical certificate, registration, or training is required to fly. We highly recommend you seek quality training for your own safety. FAR 103 stipulates that you are required to fly during daylight hours (30 minutes before sunrise or after sunset with a strobe) and we can't fly over congested areas and you can’t carry passengers without a waiver (USPPA Tandem Rating). Your school/instructor training will go in-depth on general regulations and airspace rules.

Not quite…some airspace is restricted and off-limits for paramotors. It is your responsibility to learn where you can and can't fly. USPPA instructors/schools will be able to teach you what you need to know. There may be things you don't know that you don't know, that's why it's important to follow a training syllabus to ensure you know what you need to know in order to fly safe and stay legal.

The good news is that there are A LOT of good schools and instructors out there. The USPPA school directory is a good place to start in your search for an instructor or school. You want to talk to your potential instructor and get a feel for their style and approach. If you can, find local pilots in your area and talk to them, go watch them fly and try to meet people in person before you make a decision. If you don't like what you hear, keep searching. There are a lot of good options out there.

It is a voluntary rating system administered by the USPPA. Ratings are not required but they help you to understand your own skill level to help inform your choices on appropriate gear, flying conditions, and locations to fly. The USPPA has a tandem exemption from the FAA that allows us to fly tandem in the U.S. A tandem rating is required to fly under this exemption. The USPPA ratings are:

  • PPG1: Beginner Pilot  – Student has flown at least two solo flights. Student stays under direct instructor supervision and instructor radio contact.
  • PPG2: Novice Pilot – Student is now considered a full-fledged pilot and can safely fly solo. It requires basic flying skills but, just as important, knowledge that allows venturing off to fly on his/her own.
  • PPG3: Advanced Pilot – Pilot has demonstrated significant skills and logged required hours. At this point you are considered a competent pilot and can fly almost every site safely.
  • Instructor: An instructor rating allows the instructor to issue PPG 1-3 ratings to students.
  • Tandem Instructor: The tandem rating allows instructors to legally operate tandem flights under the current tandem exemption we have from the USPPA.
  • Instructor Administrator: This rating allows the instructor to offer instructor and tandem clinics and offer instructor and tandem ratings.

Industry experts recommend 5-8 full days of training from a certified trainer. However, bad weather, training on just weekends and other facts of life could mean about 2-3 months by calendar. Going to a full-time school where you can train intensely and continuously will let you solo and earn the PPG1 in a few days, depending on conditions and your skill. Even after training, it generally takes several months and dozens of flights to master this sport.

There are inherent risks associated with all forms of aviation but these risks are mitigated by operating your Paramotor and wing within the guidelines outlined in the owners manual and within your skills and limitations. The short answer is YES (honestly, it’s as safe as YOU make it to be)…It’s one of the easiest and safest forms of flight. The #1 key to safely enjoying this sport is to have good decision-making skills. You need to understand the glider and it’s limitations and your skills and their limitations as well. A good training program will help you to develop the skills and habits to enjoy this hobby for many years to come.

Fortunately, you are flying a glider…so you just glide down and land. During training, all of your landings are done with the motor off, so you will be used to coming down and landing without your motor. As long as you fly within gliding range of a safe landing spot, engine failures are nothing more than an inconvenience.

Yes and No. There are two forms of Paramotor flying: foot launch and wheel launch. Foot launch is where you use your feet as the landing gear to run and takeoff and also to land. You must be able to run with the weight of your motor on your back until you takeoff. Paramotors generally weigh between 45 - 80 lbs depending on the brand and size.
Wheeled launch is where you use wheels, like on a trike or quad. This is a great alternative to foot launch depending on your age and physical abilities. Wheeled launch units can weigh much more but since you’re using wheels, it doesn’t matter as much.
Find a school/instructor that can teach you the style that is most suitable for your physical abilities.

Tandem flights are possible as long as you have a USPPA Tandem Rating and the required FAA exemption letter (you'll receive a copy when you get your tandem rating).

This is one of the most important decisions you will make. Let someone help you! The right motor and wing will depend on your weight, the altitude where you takeoff from (sea level is easier than up in the mountains), and of course your budget. Don’t just buy something you find on the internet. Talk to other pilots, or to an instructor and get their advice and opinions. Some pilots and instructors will feel like used car salesmen when it comes to talking about Paramotors. They will swear that their brand is the best and all the others are trash. The truth is that there are A LOT of good brands and models out there.
Motors: Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the stronger the better. You want the motor that is strong enough for you and no more. If your motor is too strong, you will battle with unnecessary weight and unwanted torque (you’ll learn about this in training).
Wings: Wings come in various sizes and styles. You want to make sure you get a wing that is just the right size for you, not too big and not too small. This is all based on weight. You also want to start on a beginner or intermediate wing and not on an expert wing. Wing are generally rated A, B, C, and D whereas an A-wing is for beginners and generally slower and safer to learn on. Again, please talk to other pilots or to an instructor to ensure you get the right wing. Don’t just pick a random wing cause you found a good deal on the internet.

We generally fly in the morning and the evening when conditions are calm. Experienced pilots can fly in stronger conditions. Weather and wind limitations also depend on where you are. Coastal winds coming off the water are smooth and stable while winds in the mountains or over land may be turbulent and unpleasant to fly in. You will learn about weather and wind conditions from your school/instructor

In mild conditions, you will generally do a forward launch. You run facing forward while pulling the wing up behind you. You’ll generally run 5 - 15 feet before you are in the air.
In stronger winds, you will do a reverse launch, where you face the wing, then spin around and take off.
Forward Launch
Reverse Launch

Yes. Paragliding or free flying is when you fly with your same wing but a different harness (without the motor). It can be a lot of fun! You’ll need a mountain to launch from or some kind of ridge where you can get lift.

No. Routine seasonal maintenance like cleaning/changing the spark plug will keep your Paramotor running smoothly for a long time. Most of us end up learning as we go. There are vast resources in each community and online to assist with any mechanical or maintenance issues. Learning these things is part of the fun, but if you don’t want to learn it at all, there is always someone who can do it for you if you’re willing to pay, just like with your own car.

Generally, the same type of gas you use in your car but mixed with 2-stroke oil. It’s recommended to use a higher octane fuel, like premium.

A truck is convenient but certainly not necessary. Many people transport their Paramotor using a cargo trailer hitch as pictured below. Others use a trailer.

Most Paramotors burn just under 1 gallon of gas per hour, so you can average the cost with oil at about $5/hour. Other maintenance costs would include new belts, spark plugs, and other minor things at 25, 50, or 100 hours of flight. Paramotoring is one of the most cost-effective ways to enjoy a flight. The initial cost of training is usually $1500 - $3500, new gear motor+wing will range between $8000 - $12,000. Used gear will range between $6000 - $9,000. The only other expenses to factor in are helmet ($100 - $400 with comms), reserve parachute ($500+ highly recommended), gloves ($15), radio to communicate with other pilots ($35), GoPro or other cameras to capture your epic adventures ($200+).

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 and the seasonal weather variations.

Some locations are flyable 6+ days per week, others are rarely safe to fly.

Nearly as high as you want. Most of the time powered paragliders are flown between 100 to 2000 feet. The legal limit imposed by the FAA is 18,000 feet.

Top 10 Tips

regarding safety

1. Get good, thorough, training from a USPPA certified instructor/school that uses best practices for training.

2. Respect the prop. When starting, assume the motor will go to full power and brace accordingly. Have someone help start whenever possible. Never reach back towards the prop while in flight. Seek out equipment whose cage is sufficient to protect against prop strikes. Over half of all serious accidents in our sport revolve around this issue and it’s easily one of the most preventable.

3. Avoid steep maneuvering, especially close to the ground.

4. Avoid low flying (below 200′) especially downwind. Stay well above wires, which can be fatal, and keep enough room to land into the wind if the motor quits.

5. Avoid tight or obstructed launch sites. A safe power-out option must always be maintained.

6. Fly in good weather. Avoid mid-day, strong winds, thunderstorms (even if they LOOK far away), frontal conditions, and anything that feels weird. Don’t fly in the wind shadow of obstructions. Call 1-800-WX-BRIEF before launching.

7. Stay legal. Know where not to go: airspace, congested areas, TFR’s (temporary flight restrictions), and others. If you don’t know the area, check with a local airport to ask.

8. Always have a safe landing option. Especially avoid flying over water beyond gliding distance to shore unless adequate flotation is carried. Note that even with flotation you may be suspended in a position where you cannot breathe and also may become tangled in the lines in the water.

9. Avoid in-flight distractions (taking photos, competitions, or during ground activity) as much as possible. If engaging in one, check the flight path often. These times have proven very risky. Get above obstacles before beginning the distracting activity.

10. Limit formation flying and only fly in loose V-formations where the preceding pilot is continuously in your field of view. Clear all turns by looking, starting a shallow turn, looking harder (up and down, too) then banking. Don’t “surprise” another pilot and never touch wings with either your wing or a part of your body. Be mindful of other pilots’ wakes and stay well clear of wakes from heavier craft such as powered parachutes.


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