This does look fun… have you heard of Paramotors?
“A paramotor is a generic name for propulsive portion of powered paraglider (“PPG”). It consists of a frame that combines the motor, propeller, harness (with integrated seat) and cage. It provides two attachment points for the risers of a paraglider wing that allows for powered flight” – thank you wikipedia for that succinct explanation.
It’s actually not that new a sport. It was first thought about by Englishman Mike Byrne in 1980 and popularized in France around 1986 when La Mouette began adapting power to the then-new paraglider wings. There is a training school in England, ParamotorsUK, based in East Anglia, that has been going for at least 14 years and although they may be changing location, they are certainly not going out of business as some malicious rumours suggest.
The Paramotor is the smallest, simplest powered aircraft in the world and the easiest to learn to fly. In fact it is a win win situation – no license is required to own or fly a Paramotor in the UK or the USA, but some professional training is required. and airspace regulations do apply depending on which country you are in, so you will need to check this out.
However, the beauty of this little machine is that the use of the paraglider wing ensures safety and inherent stability, while the engine adds autonomy and freedom. Control is very easy, all you have to do is pull the right hand brake to turn right, the left to turn left and pull both at five feet above the ground to glide in for a gentle landing. Child’s play!
The majority of paramotoring is done at between 150 – 350 feet. As a matter of interest, air regulations in the States forbid you to go above 18,000 ft which is seriously high, but shows you the potential scope of this little machine and yet, at the same time, it can skim along just 10 inches off the ground. One tank of 2-stroke fuel will allow a 3 hour flight (or about 40 miles in distance) travelling at speeds of up to 28 mph. The fuel tank is quite heavy, but the weight is only borne by the pilot for as long as it takes to inflate the wing and then the weight is carried by the paraglider. There are 2 ways to inflate the wing:
- Forward – with the wing behind you in low wind conditions, you run and pull the wing up using your speed to inflate.
- Reverse – with pilot facing the wing you can use use light winds to inflate and pull up the paraglider.
You might think that this would be a deafening sport as a 2-stroke is not the most subtle of motors, but the engine is only required to get you up into the air. You can switch off the motor at any time and land safely because you are flying with an efficient wing that can glide up to 8 feet forward with only one foot down. However, you might also be glad to hear that a 4-stroke engine is now available… that certainly appeals to me!
Most students will be flying solo within a few days. The majority of training is done on the ground learning to control the wing. The actual flying is so easy that any person can control the powered paraglider, once in flight.
What’s keeping you? Wherever you are, and if you’ve ever wanted to fly, this looks like the easiest and safest way to go! Of course there are risk elements and one of those is you the pilot! but basically you are hanging beneath the equivalent of a parachute so it is about as safe and fun as they come.
If you’re in the UK and want to try this out, I suggest you contact ParamotorsUK to organise some lessons and if you want more information in the States it might be an idea to contact ParaToys – I got a lot of good information from them and I’m sure they’ll be happy to supply more.
You might find it interesting to watch Andy’s first solo flight…