Paramotoring consists of a paraglider and a motor, which provides enough thrust to take off using just the pilot’s muscle power. It can be launched in still air, and on level ground – no assistance is required.
The first powered flights were made with rigid-wing hang gliders by Klaus Holighaus in the early 1970s. His first motorized flight was on 2 October 1971, in Orlando, Florida with a small gasoline engine.
In 1972, two French brothers, Gerard and Jean Boulet, took the world record for duration to 6 hours 51 minutes flying their Bo-102 powered paraglider.
Gerard Boulet won the FAI World Paramotor Championship three years running, from 1978 to 1980. Also in 1980, German pilot Dieter Reich did a loop whilst flying his self-built machine at Ribnitz Dam in Rostock (Germany).
Paramotoring is not an easy sport to learn or practice because of its demanding nature and should be attempted only by those who are competent hang glider pilots with good judgment. A typical paramotor weighs 15 to 30 pounds (7 to 14 kilograms), with fuel for 1.5 hours flight time. The paramotor is connected by a strong but flexible high-strength Kevlar cable which runs through the risers of the paraglider, usually with an electromechanical or hydraulic brake system attached near the harness. This is so that when faced with imminent collision, the pilot can pull very hard on both brakes at once and stop very suddenly, with minimal effect on his or her trajectory.
Paramotoring requires excellent physical fitness. Pilots must be able to tolerate considerable G forces while pulling heavy weight in order to stop quickly enough to avoid collision; contrary to popular belief pilots do not experience negative Gs because there is not enough time to gain speed, and the ground is very close when making a landing. During takeoff and initial climbout, the weight of the engine has to be supported by both feet at all times.
The paramotor is connected by a strong but flexible high-strength Kevlar cable which runs through the risers of the paraglider. This is so that when faced with imminent collision, the pilot can pull very hard on both brakes at once and stop suddenly, with minimal effect on his or her trajectory. The motor glides autonomously beside its pilot using an AP/AV slider system that allows it to glide forward during take off and after landing without being dragged by its propeller. needed for short term stabilization in crosswinds.
Table of Contents
A drogue parachute is connected to the top of the seat in case of a severe accident or when it is needed for short term stabilization in crosswinds. This small drogue slows down and helps decelerate descent in emergencies and helps reduce stress on pilot and equipment in turbulence; it also reduces oscillations in strong winds, allowing the pilot to walk away uninjured even after banked turns.
The paramotor often carries two gas tanks: one 20 litres (5 gallons) tank attached horizontally above your head for reserve fuel such as cold starting at ground level with low ambient temperature, and another 6 litres (1.6 gallons) or so tank mounted vertically above your head for use during flight, usually filled with a mixture of oil, nitromethane and methanol. The engine should be started on the ground with reserve fuel only. So that it doesn’t backfire or flame out during starting, a piece of plastic is placed between carburetor and intake manifold while cranking the motor by hand to start it. Once running, the plastic can be removed and you can use normal technique for flying your paraglider while maintaining low RPMs for good efficiency and safety in flight.
There is no limitation on speed, but because this type of flying demands high physical effort from its users, most pilots prefer to stay within their limits when motoring at full throttle; opting instead to fly at lower levels where thermal takes over propulsion needs (see thermal soaring). Using the paraglider to brake during landing requires attention because if one lands too fast, or at an angle, it can be dangerous. Sometimes you need to cut off the motor in order not to hit obstacles on take-off or landing; this is done by pulling both levers back with your hands (you may need your feet on takeoff) which disengages the cable and brakes simultaneously.
Cross wind landings
Cross wind landings are more difficult, especially without power. If a cross wind component exists that is strong enough to require a glide approach into head wind then a landing must be made into wind whenever possible as a powered approach will lead to overshoot and possible collapse of wing due to the asymmetric thrust from propeller during approach. During landing, the pilot must be careful not to hit any parts of the equipment with his/her feet; this is especially true for the propeller.
If both arms are pulled back (with feet on ground), this disengages the cable and brakes simultaneously providing free wheeling which allows paraglider to spin around its suspension lines while retaining airflow over glider surface, allowing it to ‘sink’ without fabric scarring due to excessive speed, in order to land in cross wind or down hill. Landing in insufficient space does not damage the wing as long as one lands at low forward speed.
The motor can be folded so you can carry it on your back when walking around!
How much is cost a motorized paraglider?
The price can range from $5,000 (USD) to $12,000 (USD), depending on the model and quality. As with all consumer products there is a wide range of prices. The type of paragliding we are talking about here is referred to as Powered Paragliding (PPG) or Paramotor flying (PM).
Do you need a Licence to fly a paramotor?
Yes. There are several associations that provide Licences which is their way of controlling the sport. The licence you choose to use will depend on where you live or plan to fly, as licensing authorities’ rules vary from country to country. If you just want to do some fun flying locally with friends, then you don’t need a licence; however if you want to fly cross-country or enter competitions, then training requirements should be checked before purchasing your first unit.
What is paragliding with a motor called?
The term Paragliding is the generic name for the sport, so it applies equally to conventionally foot-launched free flying and paraglider winged units. The motorized version of this activity is known as “Powered Paragliding” (PPG), a derivative of the original form of paragliding with a small engine attached. If you wish to differentiate between conventional and powered types then most people call propeller units ‘Motors’.
In Europe the generic term is Paramotor or Paramoteur which is regarded as incorrect by purists who say these terms refer only to foot launched units where the pilot wears a backpack containing an unpowered, free flight motor unit. In American English both Powered Paragliding (PPG), and the foot launched Paramotor are used.
How easy is it to fly a paramotor?
To fly a motor unit safely and in accordance with the laws of your country is very difficult and requires specialist training from a PPG Certified Flight Instructor. The key to flying safely is the correct preparation for take-off and flight, not just jumping into it.
Where can you not fly a paramotor?
The main restricted airspace is within 5nm (9km) of all airports, and for this reason it is advisable to check with your association before flying anywhere near an airport.
Can you fly a paramotor at night?
No. Unlike foot-launched free flight, paramotors do not have lights fitted (this is a requirement), so the only night flying you can do is away from built up areas where there are no lights, or at an airfield with specially lit runways.
How long does it take to learn to paramotor?
This depends on your previous experience and ability to learn. Someone with no previous experience would need at least 20 hours training before soloing, but this is not a rule. If you can already foot-launch and land a paraglider, then it will quite likely be less than 20 hours.
Can you land a paramotor anywhere?
Yes. If you have enough height available then landings are just like any other unpowered aircraft landing. You can land into the wind or cross-wind, but it is easier to judge a good landing if there is a moderate wind blowing in the desired direction of flight after touchdown.
How high can a paramotor go?
This depends on your physical fitness and the model of the paramotor. If you are in good physical condition, then you should be able to climb to an altitude of about 3,000ft (900m). This assumes that you weigh around 100lbs (45kg) with equipment.
How low can a paraglider legally fly?
A paraglider can fly as low as you like providing that it does not come into contact with the ground. Landing out is the same as any unpowered aircraft and should be done at a slower speed than normal gliding flight since there is no engine to help you land.
What happens if the paramotor’s engine fails?
The paramotor is simply a support system, so if it fails for some reason, you will need to land like any other paraglider. It would be advisable to practise engine out landings before attempting them in real life.