Via: USPPA.ORG

What is a Powered Paraglider?

Paragliding is the simplest form of flight: no plane, no windows, just you floating on air. A
paraglider is a foot-launched parachute 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 propeller to give thrust allowing you to
climb and fly level at your own will.

How long does it take to have your first flight?

You can solo in as little as a day with ability, exceptional conditions and intense
training. But you a far from ready to venture out on your own. You will need to learn
to ground handle the wing and some basics, then when the weather is good you will get your first
tow/flight.

What happens it the motor quits?

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.

How long does it take to learn?

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 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 3 days,
depending on conditions and your skill. Some schools do a 1-day solo
course but that requires assistance; you're nowhere near ready to fly on
your own after such an introduction.

How long can I fly on a tank of gas?

Motor-on flight time can easily exceed 2.0 hours based upon mild throttle usage. Periods
of extended full-throttle will burn fuel at a faster rate or with an up down
throttle. If your motor is equipped with a starter or you are strong enough to
pull the starter cord you can shut your motor on and off as you please, gliding
for hours on thermals.

Can I do this 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.

What is this PPG rating thing?

It it is a voluntary rating system administered by the USPPA. Pilots
may choose to train to receive ratings throughout their flying career that
reflect the pilot skill level. The ratings are as such:
PPG1: Beginner Pilot  - Student has flown at least one solo flight. He is required to stay under
direct instructor supervision and instructor radio contact.
PPG2: Novice Pilot - Student is now considered a full-fledged pilot and can fly solo
at nearly 90% of our flying sites nationally. It requires basic flying skills but, just as important,
knowledge that allows venturing off to fly on his 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.


How high can I 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. 

Is Powered Paragliding safe?

It is probably the safest form of private aviation ever devised, It is safer than flying in small planes or
riding motorcycles but not as safe as driving. One reason for the
good safety record is that most problems will prevent the pilot from
successfully taking off. Like other adventure sports, it's
as safe or dangerous as you make it. Powered Paragliding has a very good safety record amongst pilots
that have been properly trained by a professional. It is of course crucial that
you receive instruction from a certified professional and use safe equipment.
Paragliding is an outdoor sport and the weather is unpredictable. A thorough
understanding of the air, and the dynamics of flight makes a trained pilot much
safer than an untrained pilot. The primary safety factors are personal judgment
and attitude. You must be willing to learn gradually and to think with your head
not with your ego. If you do not, then you can get injured or killed; if you do,
then you can paraglide well into your life.

What do I need to Powered Paraglide?

You will need a backpack motor unit (PPG), a paraglider (wing), and a
helmet.  Most pilots also fly with radios for communicating with other
pilots on the ground or in the air.

How far do you have to run to get airborne?

Just a few steps will be necessary in a 5-10 breeze. However, in a calm wind
condition, 10 to 50 steps may be necessary. If you motor unit has more power =
less steps.

Do I need to get certified or get a license?

Paragliding is a self-regulated sport, so technically you are not required by law to be a
certified pilot. Getting good training is, however, paramount to personal safety
as well as avoiding blundering into restricted airspace. However, not getting
proper training is a sure way to trouble.
The USA regards Motorized
Paragliders, powered paragliders, or Paramotors as Ultralight Aircraft, and are
subject to the rules and regulations of ultralights in FAR
Part 103.

How noisy are they?

The noise level varies between different paramotors, props, mufflers, and intakes.
On average they are comparable to a large lawnmower. Think about a 2x4 spinning
in the air at 6000rpm and the air hitting it, and then put an engine on your
back and add its noise. (We use helmets with ear pads built in.)

Do I need to have special knowledge or experience?

Yes and No.  Your instructor will cover everything you need to fly and should
answer all your questions. But there is so much information that we suggest you read
up on using appropriate training materials and following some of the links on this site. Make sure your
instructor uses the USPPA syllabus or one that covers at least that same
material.

Is this sport only for youngsters? / Do I need to be fit?

No. Paragliding is an ageless sport. It can be learned by all ages. Most importantly
is a good attitude ,willingness to listen, and some casual time to spend learning.
You'll need shoes with ankle support and the ability to run aggressively for at least ten or twelve strides.
Your body should be able to withstand jumping down two or three feet. You need is to be able, both
physically and mentally. If you haven’t had any physical activity in a while, it would be a good idea to
start some walking and stretching. Your training will be the most strenuous part of your paragliding
​career. It’s all about technique, not strength.

How is a paraglider different from a skydiving parachute?

The biggest difference is that a paraglider is not constructed to handle a "terminal velocity deployment"
like a sky diving parachute. Where the paraglider has a descent rate of about 3 feet/sec,
a parachute descends at 9 to 18  feet/sec and is made much heavier
materials to survive the loads of opening.
A paraglider also has a more elongated rectangular or
elliptical shape than a parachute and, with more cells, much better
gliding performance. Paragliders fly more like a wing and parachutes are
intended to fix a fall.

Are paragliders the same as parasails?

Most people have a tendency to confuse paragliding with parasailing. Parasails are
large, very stable, round parachutes generally pulled behind a boat at the beach or lake.
They are very inefficient which is why it takes a powerful boat to pull them -
but they are stable which is why tourists can go up in them. Paragliders are
aircraft that require pilots who are skilled at controlling them.

How do I dress?

Blue jeans and a t-shirt for the summer or warm pants and a jacket for the winter
(avoid shorts in case of fall). Also gloves if you have them, sunscreen, hat and
sunglasses. If it's hot you will need plenty of of liquids, so be sure to bring
something to drink. The only required item is a good pair of boots. We recommend
strong ankle support, like good hiking boots that lace up over the ankle. The
most common injury in paragliding is probably a sprained ankle.

Can the lines of my paraglider break?

Paragliders lines are incredibly strong although failures are possible. To our knowledge,
equipment failure has never resulted in a fatality outside of aerobatics or test
flight. There are basic care and inspection requirements that will let the
pilot know if his lines are intact. Most recommend that wings are inspected
annually after they've accumulated 2 years or 100 hours.
It is recommended that you buy only wings certified by one of several
worldwide organizations such as DHV, CEN, AFNOR, DULV or their predecessors.
These wings have gone through certain flight and strength testing to
better insure predictable behavior.
Can I take people up?

The regulation we operate under is incredibly simple; intended to limit risk to
participating pilots only and not others. Only solo operations are allowed
although there is an allowance for two place training which means you must be an
instructor and only take up others for the purpose of training. It requires a
lot of skill to do this safely since you must manage the motor, wing and another
person at the same time.

What is the best way to start?

Go to the schools page and pick a USPPA certified instructor. These pilots have
generally made the largest commitment in skills and time to get where they are.
They also have a standardized and very thorough training syllabus to insure
complete training.