Solo Ratings Program
These are primary ratings offered by USPPA for powered paraglider pilots. Differentiation is provided for wheel launch and foot launch—only the items required for the launch skill sought must be demonstrated. For information on the Tandem Program, refer TandemProgram.PDF, and for the High Wind rating, refer to Test-HighWindTextAndTest.doc.
An Instructor can give any rating that he/she holds. For example, a High Wind rating can be given by an instructor who holds a high wind rating. An Administrator can give any rating they hold, including instructor and tandem instructor. A pilot can add a wheel launch (WL) or foot launch (FL) by demonstrating the required skills and showing the required logged experience to an appropriately rated instructor.
Flight: A flight, for the purpose of these requirements, consists of inflation, launch, flying at least 360 degrees of turn, then landing and bringing the wing down.[WL] = Applies to Wheel Launch Only [FL] = Applies to Foot Launch Only
All required maneuvers must be done in a controlled fashion where the outcome is never in doubt. Any maneuver that results in damaged gear, injury, or falling cannot be counted as successful.
PPG 1 Rating
This first step establishes the skills, knowledge and experience for the pilot who gets to take his first two flights. He is far from ready to venture out on his/her own but has made a significant milestone.
PPG 1 Ground Requirements
- Proper layout and preflight check of canopy and motor (including harness).
- Has successfully completed a basic ground school.
- Understanding of proper canopy packing, storage and care.
- Site analysis including wind direction and velocity, terrain shape, obstructions and engine-out planning.
- Proper canopy handling and kiting skills.
- Explains motor, propeller, and fueling safety.
- Understands basic operation the motor including at least two ways to shut it off and what to look for on preflight runup.
- Explains effects of Center of Gravity and wing connection location on the harness or cart frame.
- [WL] Explains the cause and cure to rollover-type accidents.
- Has passed the USPPA/USUA PPG 1 written exam.
PPG 1 Flight Requirements (Launch/Landing/Inflation)
- Two controlled forward inflations with visual canopy check each time.
- (FL) Two controlled reverse inflations with proper surge dampening.
- (FL) Half-minute of controlled kiting overhead in a steady wind.
- (WL) 15 seconds of controlled taxiing without lifting off.
- Demonstrates a method of establishing proper connection to the wing, with cleared lines and risers, just prior to inflation.
- Demonstrates two unassisted (other than radio) flights.
PPG 1 Limitations
These recommended limitations are intended to provide a guide for those at this skill level to remain within their ability. Obviously there are other considerations before flying but this is a good starting point. Only exceed these limitations under instructor supervision.
- All flights must be under the supervision of an instructor.
- Max wind, including gusts of 8 mph
- Launch and land directly into the wind
- Use canopy rated for beginner (DHV 1, 1-2, EN-A, EN-B or equivalent other rating).
- Takeoff and landing area should allow unimpeded climb and landing approach without maneuvering below 100′ AGL.
Ratings: PPG 2
This rating signifies that the pilot should be able to fly on his/her own within the limits specified below. It’s understood to be the beginning of a lengthy learning period. It is for paramotor, what the FAA Private Pilot license is to General Aviation.
PPG 2 Ground Requirements
- Pilot uses judgment commensurate with the rating.
- Attends a minimum of 8 hours of ground school.
- Has passed the USPPA/USUA PPG2 written exam and reviewed incorrect answers.
- Verbal analysis of general site conditions including a flight plan (flight path, avoidance areas, obstacles, wind effects).
- Has received at least simulator training in avoidance and recovery from collapses, stalls, spins, and is familiar with the canopy owner’s manual on them.
- Demonstrates sufficient knowledge by explaining the following:
1. Correct motor, cart [WL], and wing maintenance.
2. Basics of airspace as it pertains to PPG and how to determine legal flight areas from sectional charts including how to obtain a weather briefing.
3. Proper strong wind landing procedures and how to keep from being dragged back.
4. USPPA incident reports.
5. Flight performance and the effects of weight, wing size, thrust, twist, winds, and density altitude.
6. Fitness for flight from an Aeromedical perspective.
7. How to shorten and lengthen flight path with no power.
8. Speedbar and trimmers, their use, risks, and limitations, including for reflex wings.
9. Airport operations.
10. CFR 14 Part 103 regulations.
11. Directional control and correction of significant asymmetric wing fold (that causes turning).
12. Causes, cures and risks of torque and its side effects.
PPG 2 Ground Requirements (Demonstrations)
- Demonstrates PLF technique sufficient to show understanding.
- Demonstrates reserve deployment while hanging in a harness [FL] or sitting in cart [WL] in simulated turbulence or malfunction. This may be done without an actual reserve if none is available.
- Setup and preflight of the glider, harness and reserve (reserve may be explained if not equipped).
- [FL] Two minutes of controlled kiting overhead.
PPG 2 Flight Requirements (Launch/Landing/Inflation)
- Consistently succeeds at 2 out of 3 no-wind (0-2 mph) forward inflations.
- (FL) Consistently succeeds at 2 out of 3 controlled reverse inflations with proper surge dampening.
- (WL) 30 seconds of controlled taxiing without lifting off.
- Two cross-wind (> 15º cross to takeoff path) launches in light wind (<= 5 mph).
- Power-on landings are consistently smooth, within 15′ of a target, and into the wind.
- Landings, after removing thrust from at least 300′ high, are consistently within 100′ of a target (40′ for the Precision Landing special skill).
- (WL) Brief and instruct ground crew for assisted launch.
- Demonstrates smooth variation in airspeed and throttle to maintain level flight from just above min sink to fast flight on a constant heading
- Alternating ‘S’ turn (at least 90° heading change) flights along a planned path. Heading change < 45° into wind.
- Hands off (or up) flying with smooth transition to climb and descent using throttle only.
- Hands off (or up) flying with turns using weight-shift (if available) and rear risers.
PPG 2 Minimum Logged Flight Experience
These are minimums. It is common to need 40 or more flights before attaining PPG 2 skill levels.
- 25 flights except that, for USHPA P2 or higher rated paraglider pilots, 15 non-powered flights can be used to count towards the 25 flight requirement.
- 5 flying days.
PPG 2 Limitations
These limitations are intended as a guide for those at this skill level to remain within their ability. Obviously there are other things that should be considered before flying but this is a good starting point.
- Only exceed these limitations after thoroughly mastering all PPG 2 tasks and with full understanding of the potential problems and dangers involved in doing so.
- Max peak thermal strength 200 fpm.
- Max gusts of 12 mph.
- Max gust rate of 5 mph in 5 seconds.
- Should not launch with the wind aligned more than 25 degrees from the takeoff path.
- Avoid using of brake beyond 2/3 of full travel (stall).
- Max bank angle of 30 degrees.
- Avoid flying downwind less than 150′ above the ground.
- Use canopy rated for beginner (DHV 1, 1-2, EN-A, EN-B or equivalent other rating).
- Takeoff and landing area should allow unimpeded climb and landing approach without maneuvering below 100′ AGL
Ratings: PPG 3
This rating builds on the knowledge and skills from the PPG1 & PPG2, only additional areas are included here. These are bare minimums. It is common to need 200 or more flights before attaining PPG 3 skill levels. It is for paramotor what the FAA Commercial License is for General Aviation.
Pilots should have a thorough understanding of the knowledge items required of those ratings. He/she should be able to judge and safely fly from any launch site within his skill level. Launches should be consistently successful with the ability to easily steer during the launch run as well as control the flight path immediately from liftoff.
PPG 3 Ground/General Requirements
- Uses judgment commensurate with the rating.
- Explains characteristics of impending stall or spin and the recovery technique for each.
- Explains how to shorten and lengthen flight distance by adjusting speed, height and the relationship of headwind/tailwind in doing so.
- Explains how to maintain directional control during and correct for an asymmetric wing fold of 50% or more of the wing span.
- Has passed the USPPA/USUA PPG3 written exam and reviewed incorrect answers.
PPG 3 Flight Requirements (Launch/Landing/Inflation)
- All landings are safe, smooth, on the feet (or wheels as appropriate), in the desired touchdown area, in control and with no damage.
- Consistently succeeds at 3 out of the 4 no-wind (0-2 mph) inflations/launches.
- Good canopy control while doing turns of at least 20 degrees while on ground (FL) running or (WL) rolling with the wing overhead and under power.
- Consistently makes 2 out of 3 power-on landings within 5′ of a target and into the wind.
- Consistently makes 2 out of 3 power-off (from 300′) landings within 15 feet of a target and into the wind without falling.
- Demonstrates smooth transition from descent to climb in a go-around maneuver while controlling the surge.
- Demonstrates smooth, single-swing dampening of surges using throttle only.
- Demonstrates smooth, single-swing dampening of left/right oscillations.
- Linked 180° turns along a predetermined ground track showing smooth controlled reversals and coordination at various speeds, throttle settings and bank angles.
- Demonstrates ability to use Trimmers and Speed Bar setup and use. (gives explanation if not installed on wing)
- Significant asymmetric tip folds and/or big ears (25% each side, 50% total) or other canopy reduction method to increase descent rate.
PPG 3 Logged Flight Experience
- 90 flights. It is common to need 200 or more flights before attaining PPG 3 skill levels.
- 60 flights in the WL or FL type being sought. For example, a wheel launch pilot seeking a PPG 3 FL rating must get at least 60 foot launch flights.
- 30 flying days.
- Has had USPPA PPG2 rating or equivalent for at least 120 days.
- 20 solo airtime hours.
PPG 3 Limitations
These recommended limitations are intended to provide a guide for those at this skill level to remain within their ability. Obviously there are other considerations before flying but this is a good starting point.
- Only exceed these limitations after thoroughly mastering all Novice tasks and after acquiring a full understanding of the potential problems and dangers involved in exceeding these limitations.
- Follows safe flying guidelines.
- Max peak gusts 15 mph without high-wind add-on.
- Max gust rate of 7 mph in 5 seconds.
- Limit turns to bank angles recommended my the manufacturer, Smoothly exit any spiral turn that is becoming steeper or accelerating.
- Should not fly in thermals where peak climb rates exceed 500 fpm or where significant cloud development exists.
- Avoid using of brake beyond 3/4 of full travel (stall).
- Avoid steep banks close to ground.
- Avoid flying downwind less than 100′ above the ground.
These requirements are meant to insure flight instructors have the requisite experience and skills necessary to safely instruct. This is for an instructor who is not tandem qualified but does instruction using other means.
The Minimum Training Standards, as well as the Instructor Commitment are meant to help insure students receive safe and effective training. These recommendations come from experienced instructors who have found they minimize the risk during training.
PPG Instructor Ground/General Requirements
- Pilot uses good judgment and has a level of Maturity commensurate with the rating.
- delete 60 flights for WL since it’s now codified in the PPG 3 requirements.
- All witnessed flights must be pre-planned by the pilot and discussed with the examining instructor.
- Successfully passed USPPA/USUA Instructor Certification Clinic given by an instructor administrator or completed 20 hours of apprenticeship with a USPPA/USUA PPG Instructor administrator.
- Successfully passed USPPA/USUA Instructor Written Test.
- Successfully completed First Aid and CPR class. Acceptable versions are from the Red Cross, American Heart Association (click here and choose the “Heartsaver First Aid Course”) and CPRToday (Enter the BCLS discount code given by your instructor administrator for a 10% discount on the fee).
PPG Instructor Experience and Minimums
- One year of flying using a paramotor.
- 120 flights using a paramotor.
- 45 flying days using a paramotor.
- Has had a USPPA PPG3 rating for at least 180 days (may be waived).
- 50 solo airtime hours.
- Agrees to apply minimum training standards prior to student instruction, flight and other areas as appropriate.
- Adheres to “commitment letter” whenever doing instruction for USPPA rating.
PPG Instructor Administrator
These requirements are meant to insure Instructor Administrators have the requisite experience and skills necessary to safely certify new instructors. It is important that any issuance of instructor ratings be based solely on the applicants ability to evaluate potential instructors so as to ensure our program is administered fairly.
Instructor Administrator is our most important position and is subject to annual review of the training committee. These individuals are responsible for selecting competent Instructor Candidates who:
- Embrace our standards,
- Are willing to work with the USPPA instructor community,
- Operate first and foremost in the success of their students,
- Represent and support our training program in a way that reflects well on the profession and organization.
A list of Instructor Administrators is available at the bottom of Officers and Committees.
An administrator’s status will be reviewed by the training committee annually and can be revoked by a majority vote of the committee. The intent is to insure that these individuals are adhering to the program and policies, being fair and not compromising quality. Any revocation must be by a majority of the training committee and may be appealed to the officers. A majority of the officers must agree with the revocation for it to stand.
An Administrator can grant any Instructor rating he possesses.
Instructor Administrator applicants must:
- Have at least 2 years as USPPA instructor, actively teaching.
- Have been the primary instructor for at least 20 students and given them their PPG 2 ratings within the last year. Primary instructor means giving at least 90% of all the instruction to each student, including their first solo flight and testing for the PPG2 rating. Up to half of this requirement can be met with other instruction of equivalent value, such as for free flight, at the discretion of a majority of the training committee.
- Commit to giving at least 1 instructor clinic per year that accepts any qualified applicant regardless of brand or school relationship.
- Be recommended by a USPPA instructor Administrator and 1 USPPA instructor.
- Pass a review of the training committee.
Here is the submission process.
- The recommending instructor administrator should submit an email to the training committee, via [email protected] indicating the desire to certify a new Instructor Administrator and listing the applicant’s years of instructor service.
- The applicant submits an Application via email.
- If there is no action by the training committee within 30 days of the latest email the grant of status is automatic.
- If the Training committee decides the applicant does not qualify they will provide a reason for the denial.
Note: For historical purposes, here is the PDF document that this supersedes: RatingsProgram-2019a
2020-06-02 Updated wording, added reference to FAA Commercial and private, improved formatting.
Francesco DeSantis has been working with a number of different schools and is willing to step up and help write the course material that will be used for our long-approved/funded/programmed instructor recurrency program.
Once in place, we will turn on the already-programmed instructor currency. Meaning that instructors will have to pass this test every period (currently every other year) or whatever the training committee decides is appropriate. Not passing the test will put them on non-current status and they will not be able to administer ratings and will not show up on the public USPPA instructor list.
It is intended to be a short course (roughly 2 to 3 pages of 800 words per page with illustrations, if used) of material on a web page followed by a test through QuestBase.
It should include material about best practices gleaned from our instructors like those below. Input from the Training Committee and other instructors will obviously make it a better product.
- What works?
- What doesn’t work?
- What has proven to be risky?
- What has proven to be effective?
- Business practices that are not acceptable?
- Recommended business practices?
- Legal considerations.
- Other subjects pertinent to being quality, professional instructors.
Thanks for any assistance you can render!
The USPPA Tandem exemption 9751F has been renewed for two years. This was closer to the wire than we’d like, in spite of the renewal being requested earlier than last time. FAA personnel are working from home which slowed the process down, but we were in contact in the last weeks and they came through.
Instructors, please make sure to download the newest copy to have it available as required.
On May 23th between 7:10 and 7:20 PM at 355 Gum Tree Road, Coatesville PA, while flying his paramotor Henry “Clay” Baldwin impacted the ground first and subsequently a fencepost for a split rail wooden fence. He was hospitalized and placed on life support that evening.
On Sunday May 25’th, Clay was declared “brain-dead” with no chance of recovery and his wife Lisa made the decision to remove life support and he passed away 16 minutes later.
Clay was 55 years old, 160lbs, flying an Ozone Spyder 3 24M purchased in March 2020, and a Parajet Maverick Moster 185 purchased in January 2020.
Clay, from Coatesville PA, trained over 10 days Feb 7-17 2020 to the PPG 2 level and following the PPG2 syllabus in Wauchula Florida with 5 other students as part of a joint class between One Up Adventures, FlyMI PPG, and Paratour. His instructors were Kyle Mooney, Eric DuFour, Mike Cotter, Justin Fox, and myself. All are USPPA certified instructors with the exception of Mike Cotter. Although Clay met all practical and knowledge standards for PPG2, he chose not to pursue the rating.
Eyewitness accounts (which were relayed to me by his wife on the phone) described Clay as doing low to ground steep maneuvers before he made impact. After ground impact the remaining inertia carried him into a fencepost (see damage to cage hoop)
Tucker Gott graciously picked up his gear from Clay’s wife this past Thursday after the State Police released it back to her after their investigation. Tucker sent me photos, which I have attached below, and Tucker will be shipping the gear down to me this week.
Based on the photos, the engine was running at the time of impact (prop damage), and there is no indication of any pre-impact failures of the gear. I will inspect it again when it arrives here.
The weather history for that day in Coatesville can be seen here https://www.wunderground.com/history/daily/us/pa/coatesville/KMQS/date/2020-5-23
Clay was wearing a go pro, however the State Police reported that there was no video of the incident contained on the SD card.
I can only estimate that Clay has around 80 flights before the incident, his wife reports that he flew 2-3 times a day when weather was favorable. After his training in Wauchula, he had returned to Lake Wales in early March to get a few flights with me instructing him for his first few flights on his new Spyder 3 (his original glider was a Mojo PWR medium). During that time I observed and discussed with him the danger of him fly low while downwind. Clay always respected the training regimen.
Clay was also a volunteer throughout the Florida Fun Fest event in Palm Bay, FL.
Throughout the Covid period Clay had relayed a video to me via text of him doing low to ground steep maneuvers at home in Coatesville. I called and discussed with him the danger of those types of maneuvers, especially for his experience level, and convinced him to come back down to Florida for some intermediate training in early June which he agreed to do. I found out he had also sent video to at least one other student in his February class, who told him “you’re going to die if you don’t start slowing things down.”
I don’t know if weather played a factor, but may have as the weather history that day indicates light winds with 0 gusts until 7:15 PM when suddenly the gusts went from 0 to 14 MPH, and then gusts of 20 mph at the next observation at 7:35 PM. Conditions around the time of the incident were reported as fair to partly cloudy, winds variable at 7 gust 14, Temp 73, DP 64.
Clay was wearing a helmet and his wife reports it appears undamaged.
Cause of death was determined to be traumatic brain injury. I should note also that Clay had two past traumatic brain injuries during his life, the most recent 2.5 years prior.
It has come to our attention that an instructor may have flown his student on equipment that had not been properly tested and was not configured properly, which is obviously unacceptable. In this case, it was a wheeled machine where the front wheel(s) lifted off last, or “wheelbarrowed,” a dangerous condition that could cause a crash.
Student equipment should be hang-tested, and where possible, flight-tested by the instructor. A flight test may not be wise if the instructor is too heavy/lightweight to do it safely, and is less necessary if the product is flight-tested by the manufacturer (some wing makers do this).
The minimum standard is that equipment must be hang-tested to ensure proper behavior in all power ranges. This could expose unwanted hang-angles and unwanted twisting/turning tendencies. A simple hang test of the cart would have revealed the dangerous condition before exposing a student to risk. If running the prop would be too risky for a particular situation, apply force at the prop in the thrust direction to simulate behavior under power.
Although this advice is included in our Wheel-Launch syllabus, it has been added to the “simulator” section for better clarity. Instructors should download the newest syllabus from the “Instructors” page.
Two officer positions are up for election, President and Treasurer.
If you’re interested in one of these positions, please submit your interest according to our bylaws, by December 31, 2019.
Rich Greenwood, a trained accident investigator, took on the task of uncovering as much detail as possible on an unusual fatal crash that involved an in-flight break up. He was helped by Michael Pohlman. We paid for the metallurgic testing but these folks donated time and expertise. Download the whole report PDF here for pictures and detailed descriptions from all available witnesses. Accident Investigation Team
The Mishap Flight (MF) was a three-ship recreational flight of wheeled Powered Paragliders (PPGs) consisting of the Mishap Pilot (MP), Wingman 1 (WM1) and Wingman 2 (WM2) operating under Title 14 Chapter I Subchapter F Part 103.
The MF departed Gator airfield (3FD4) at approximately 6:45 AM on 29 July 2019 and headed Northeast. During the flight, the MF decided to fly over a friend’s house, Ground Observer 1 (GO1), who was another PPG owner/operator. The MF arrived over Lake Beauclair at approximately 7:20 AM at 1500 feet AGL. The MP texted GO1 that they were approaching his house. GO1 and his friend, Ground Observer 2, (GO2, was not a PPG pilot) then went outside to watch. GO1 requested that the MP “get low over us” via text.
WM1 was ahead of the MP and WM2 was slightly behind.
Witness statements indicate the Mishap Aircraft (MA) then began a very aggressive right-hand turn, so aggressive it was disconcerting to both WM2 and GO1. (The initial turn was not observed by WM1) After about 1 and ¾ turns GO1 and GO2 saw the wing collapse, a “dark object” fly off, and the reserve open. (GO1 described it as the reserve while GO2 said something “white” which was the color of the reserve.
The dark object was later determined to be the MP in the front part of the MA.) WM2 reported seeing the MA in a spiral and then the wing “split in half” but did not see the “dark object” fly off. WM2 radioed to WM1 that the MP was in trouble.
WM2 watched the reserve parachute and began a descent to follow it as it landed in the water, after which he turned on his video camera. While circling the debris field with the reserve parachute, WM2 noted a secondary debris field in the water about 750 feet northeast of the first. When circling the second debris field, WM2 noted the MP’s head and shoulders under the water. He and WM1 then proceeded to land at a golf course near GO1 and GO2. Meanwhile, GO2, seeing the events, called 911.
The Sheriff’s office responded and approximately 3 hours later the MP and the wreckage were pulled from the water. The MP received fatal injuries during the event.
The following recommendations were listed in the report and are included here for convenience.
- The USPPA and instructors should include in their training syllabus the hazard of overstressing equipment, both airframe and wings, when discussing steep spirals.
- Pilots who choose to fly with a reserve parachute should contact the manufacturer with regards to their recommendations on reserve parachute installation. The installation should consider the airframe failure noted in this report.
- Pilots should carefully consider their type and location of flying and the possible consequences of the decision to deactivate the automatic activation feature of floatation devices.
- Pilots should understand that there is no guarantee of any load carrying capabilities when flying non-certificated equipment.
- Pilots should read, understand and adhere to all manufacturer’s instructions when purchasing, assembling and installing any aftermarket equipment.
- The USPPA and instructors should include in their training syllabus a review of the information in Advisor Circular 103-7, with emphasis on Para 4a.
Leah Cattulo is passionate about seeing USA paramotor pilots be able to compete on the international stage, something they have not been able to do for the past few years since the USUA decided to not keep their NAA membership due to expense and (then) lack of interest.
Jeff Goin is stepping down from the Chairman position so Leah can take over and help build a sustainable competition in the U.S. and help with tools required to compete internationally.
It is hoped that we will be able to become an NAA member which will allow U.S. paramotor pilots the ability to make FAI recognized world records and compete in internationally sanctioned competitions.
The committee members are as listed on our about page near the bottom.
There may be occasion to verify membership status or ratings for insurance, property owners, international flying, or other reasons. You must have your member number and last name you used to sign up for membership.