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introduction to paramotors

The latest development in ultra-light aviation, paramotors (also termed Powered Paragliders) combine the easy flying characteristics of the paraglider with the autonomy and range of powered flight. Paramotors are relatively easy to learn to fly, yet being foot launched they do not need an airfield to operate from. They can be flown from an open, flat field with no need to find a hill site facing into wind or even to wait for the wind to blow. They are quickly and easily rigged and de-rigged, and once dismantled can be put in the boot of a car or taken to exotic locations as hand baggage.

What exactly is a paramotor?

This simplest of all powered aircraft consists of small 2-stroke petrol engine driving a propeller, worn like a backpack under a paraglider wing and providing thrust to take off, climb and maintain level flight. Once airborne, the paramotor can be used to motor along and watch the world go by beneath you or, if conditions permit, soared in thermal lift to make long cross-country flights. The motor can be stopped and restarted in the air - many types have electric starters - enabling the pilot to adapt his or her flight to the prevailing conditions. With the paramotor unit disconnected before take-off, the wing becomes just another paraglider, offering the freedom and excitement of engineless flight. Many paramotor pilots are paraglider pilots looking for more flexibility in their flying, many others are new to flying but become interested in paramotoring and pure paragliding flight.

Is it expensive?

With a budget of 5,000 or so you'll be able to buy new equipment and cover the cost of a training course. Second-hand equipment will reduce that figure considerably. You'll also need a flying suit, flying boots and a helmet and may consider other equipment as you progress. Running costs are minimal, making paramotoring perhaps the cheapest form of powered flying available.

Learning to fly a paramotor

Courses at BHPA (in the UK) schools take around seven to ten days for would-be paramotor pilots with no paragliding experience, as some time is needed to train them in the safe control of a paraglider canopy. A full course would cover launching the canopy, airspeed control, turning, approaching and landing and controlling the canopy safely on the ground. With these skills under your belt your instructor will then turn to the power unit and train you in assembly and disassembly (for easy transport this, not a major stripdown!), starting, throttle control, fuel mixing, maintenance, torque and thrust effects and certain essential cautions. The two elements will then be put together to teach you powered flight. You will also be instructed in basic principles of flight, meteorology, aviation law (quite severe airspace restrictions apply to paramotor use) and navigation.