Paramotors (also known as a Powered Paragliders) combine the easy flying characteristics of a paraglider with the autonomy and range of powered flight.
Paramotors are relatively easy to learn to fly, and being foot launched, they can take-off from an open, flat field, provided you have permission, and as long as there no hazards such as trees, livestock or bystanders. (Airfields are of course ideal) There is 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 a small motor 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, with many having electric starters, enabling the pilot to adapt his or her flight to the prevailing conditions.
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 then in pure paragliding flight too. BHPA Power qualifications are for solo flight only. No BHPA dual power qualification is currently available. To reiterate: BHPA power qualified pilots are not authorised, trained or insured to fly with passengers.
Is it expensive?
New power units cost around £4,500 - £6,000, to which you need to add the cost of a new or second hand paraglider. You'll also need flying boots and a helmet, and will need to consider purchasing other equipment as you progress. Running costs are minimal, making paramotoring perhaps the cheapest form of powered flying available.
Learning to fly a paramotor
Before making your initial flights under power, you'll first need to learn to fly the wing.
Once this is mastered your instructor will turn to the power unit, and you will learn how to assemble and disassemble it (this is for easy transport, not a major stripdown!), start the paramotor, control the throttle, and undertake basic routine maintenance. Your instructor will also explain torque and thrust effects, and discuss safety issues. The two elements will then be put together to teach you powered flight. The same degree of knowledge of flight theory and meteorology is required as for paragliding, and because with an engine you have the ability to roam at will, considerable emphasis is placed on teaching you airlaw and navigation.
No CAA licence is required to fly a paramotor – but you still have to know and obey the rules and regulations applying to UK Airspace – of which there are many! The UK is a small island, and much of the airspace above it is reserved for commercial air traffic, bird sanctuaries, weapons testing etc..
Being in the wrong place and height on your paramotor could be catastrophic – and at best could land you with a huge fine. Learning to read an Aeronautical Chart and how to navigate is not difficult – your Instructor will guide you through this.