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Paramotor Flight Instruction

Learn to Fly a Powered Paraglider ('PPG')

CONTACT:   Nick Antonaccio   215-630-six seven five nine     nick@ this web site url .com

Schedule   INFO SHEET   Links   Syllabus   Checklist PDF   Checklist Text   FAR 103

Search Google for "Learn Powered Paragliding", "Learn PPG", "Paramotor Tutorial", etc., and you'll see Nick's texts at the top of each search result.

Contents:

1. How is Paramotor Instruction Typically Taught?
2. It's a Challenge!
3. Phases of Training, and Various Course Options
3.1 Ground School
3.2 Kiting
3.3 Engine-On Training and Initial Flights
3.4 Ongoing Support
3.5 Advanced Training
4. Can Paramotor Flight be Self-Taught?
5. Contact

1. How is Paramotor Instruction Typically Taught?

Most paramotor schools have you visit to study for a week or two at the instructor's location. It's also possible to complete your instruction over several long weekends, with periods of practice and study between. Traditionally, students spend a portion of their time indoors, doing 'ground school' lessons (book learning about weather, laws, aerodynamics, equipment, etc.), whenever weather conditions outside are unflyable. You'll spend most of your outdoor lesson time learning to 'kite' a paraglider wing, learning to handle it on the ground, and to position it overhead while running, ready to take off. You'll also learn to handle the motor on your back and while simultaneously kiting the wing. You'll practice the flight routine repeatedly in a simulator until you can run through every movement by habit. You may also get to take a tandem or tow flight before launching on your own. At the end of your study, when weather conditions permit, your instructor will guide you via a headset through the process of launching, moving through turns in the air, and landing. You'll spend as much time as possible getting in additional flights during every available weather opportunity.

You should chose an instructor with whom you can connect personally, whom you trust, and whom you enjoy talking with regularly, because you'll rely on them for support and equipment maintenance for years to come.

2. It's a Challenge!

Learning to fly a paramotor is extraordinarily fun and rewarding, but it's also quite a bit more difficult and time consuming than most people ever imagine. It looks deceivingly easy. Pilots just seem to pull up their wing, run a few steps, engage their throttle, and take off. How difficult could that possibly be to learn?

The answer is that it's harder than it looks, at least in the very beginning. Kiting a paramotor wing well can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks of instruction and practice, to build basic skills. Paramotor engines initially feel very heavy, and frames/harnesses feel strikingly awkward to pick up, let alone to run with, and kiting a wing at the same time is nearly impossible if you try to jump right into it. You need to learn to kite perfectly straight during take off, while running full speed on uneven ground, with the engine weighing you down, and also pushing 100-170 lbs of thrust on your back, without the wing oscillating at all during takeoff. This is the reality of learning to fly a PPG, and you need lots of training and practice to do it well. For most students, it's a tremendously challenging process, compared to expectations. Even experienced general aviation pilots discover that their previous training and knowledge prepares them little for the physical challenge of learning to fly with a propeller attached to a gigantic backpack, and a wing that needs to be inflated while running.

Flying a PPG is also extremely weather dependent. Unlike fixed wing aircraft which weigh thousands of pounds, are equipped with many times the thrust, and fly much faster, paramotors are much more like leaves blowing in the wind. If you try to fly a paramotor during mid day thermal activity, or any time when wind conditions around obstacles are bad, you may find yourself in an uncontrollable situation, as a beginner. It can take years to learn to fly in rough conditions, and many paramotor pilots never even attempt it. The last 2 hours of the day, or the first 2 hours of morning light (before the local atmosphere heats up), are the only conditions in which a beginner should even consider flying (except at a beach, or in certain rare, calm conditions). Weather requirements pose real, hard limits to scheduled training. You'll need to plan for instruction with these realistic limits in mind.

There's more to the equation too. You'll most likely learn to fly on your own equipment. If you fall over and break anything on your machine, you'll need to get it repaired before you can fly again. You'll want to be prepared to handle mishaps quickly.

Please don't try to train yourself. There are just too many things that can go seriously wrong without instruction.

Hopefully, you can find a group of local pilots who are willing to help you regularly determine if flying conditions are good, and who can help sort and maintain equipment, repair 2-stroke engines, etc. Be sure to talk with some pilots about more than the normal 'it's awesome' conversation. It is truly awesome, but getting started is probably more complicated than you intially think. Having a realistic training plan is essential if you want to have a good time.

3. Phases of Training, and Various Course Options

PPGLessons.com offers traditional training courses, using the classic tried and true methods. You're welcome to come visit and study at a school location for as long as you want. Or, if you prefer totally private and personalized instruction, you can have an instructor come to you, and teach directly at your own flying site. Just call 215-630-(six seven five nine) to ask questions and/or to schedule a training session.

You can perform each phase of instruction all at once during a long vacation, or take each bit of instruction during short visits, practicing and perfecting each phase at home, before moving on to new skills. For the initial phase of ground school training, PPGLessons.com also offers remote videoconference instruction - live, online distance learning - which allows you to complete some of the time consuming portions of introductory training at your home location.

3.1 Ground School

The first part of any PPG course, ground school, teaches you everything you need to know about how paramotors work, what it's like to fly, how the law governs our flying activity, how to determine flyable weather conditions, how the equipment is operated and maintained, what the entire training process will entail, etc. However you decide to perform your ground school, you will need some personal attention, to get all your questions answered and to learn how everything works. You can receive ground school instruction in a class room, or in a live videoconference environment, privately, or with other students.

This portion of the training requires absolutely no equipment purchase. You will understand all of the 'book' knowledge required to fly, when you complete this portion of your instruction.

3.2 Kiting

The next stage of instruction is kiting practice. This is the most time consuming, and arguably the most important phase of training. You can learn the fundamentals of paraglider wing control in a short course at an instructor's location, or during a visit from a traveling instructor. The basics are easy to understand, but the skills can take weeks to master. Some PPG schools have produced videos to teach potential new students how to practice kiting on their own, but self study is really not recommended. It's important to have someone help you understand which weather conditions are safe for practice, how to hook into your harness correctly, how the various lines and controls (along with your body movements and the movement of the air around you) affect the way the wing moves, etc. It is much easier and safer to get started if you have help.

The most important skills which you'll need to fly are built during the kiting phase. Traditional kiting instruction will help you to keep away from bad habits, and help you gain the most fundamental knowledge about how your wing moves and lifts you into the sky. In your initial lessons, you will learn to simply kite your wing, to pull it up above your head, and run with it, as if launching. You will not fly at all, but you will feel how the wing responds to the movement of air, and how your movements, weight shift, the controls, etc. all affect how the wing flies. When you first begin this phase of training, you will practice only when weather conditions are absolutely perfect, with no chance of the wing pulling you out of control. This kiting stage may be completed quickly in a few days, or it can potentially require weeks to master, depending upon your schedule, your natural ability, and the conditions that your weather provides.

When you can kite with perfect skill, you can begin to strap into your paramotor, without the engine ever running, and learn to perform the same kiting and launch skills with the weight of the engine on your back. This portion of the training is the most physically demanding. You will likely lose some weight, and you will need to take regular breaks. In any school environment, your instructor will work with several students at the same time, so you'll be able to take rests from running and watch others practice. Your instructor will help you determine a good location to fly in your local area, point out obstacles, space requirements, etc., and help assess that the practice space you use, the conditions in which you train, and the techniques which you use, are as safe and effective as possible.

You will learn the most critical skills needed to take off during this stage of training. You can learn at your own rate, take as many lessons as you need, and practice in your home location, as opposed to being rushed through a short training course during a limited vacation trip. You can take the days, weeks or months which are required to build habitual muscle memory, understanding, and skill needed to control the wing and fly safely.

It's best to buy a new wing and get thoroughly comfortable with it throughout the process. Despite the fact that you will expose a new wing to some wear and tear, UV degradation, etc. it's best to become thoroughly familiar with the wing that you will fly with, for the entire training period - that is the typical expectation in most training routines. During this phase, you'll get all the help you need to choose what to buy.

3.3 Engine-On Training and Initial Flights

The final stage of basic training is the 'engine-on' portion of your instruction. This phase requires a great deal of interaction with your instructor, either at your location, or at a school site. By the end of this stage, you will take your first flights. If you visit a school site, you can choose to use a school machine (only if you've chosen to purchase and fly one of the exact same models). The other option is to bring your own machine. Your instructor will help you make a decision about what to buy, but that is ultimately your choice alone. You can choose to use the instructor's equipment to perform this entire phase of training (there is no rental cost, but you must agree to pay for any equipment which you break). You can try a limited variety of school machines, and decide which suits your tastes and priorities best. You'll do a hang check and learn how to configure the harness and all other in-flight settings. It's critical that you learn to do this specifically for your weight and size, on the exact same model paramotor that you'll eventually fly at home. You'll do 'simulator' training, in which you hang in the paramotor with the engine on, learning to feel how the engine thrust pushes you in the harness, how it feels to hold and pull brakes while running the engine up and down, etc. You'll learn to walk and run properly with the engine running on your back. You'll practice every move that makes up an entire flight, over and over again, until you can perform every move without thinking. You'll learn to perform more advanced kiting techniques. You can also choose to purchase tandem instruction flights, in which your instructor takes you into the air, preparing you fully for the feeling of paramotor flight, feeling how the controls affect turns, etc., before you ever have to do it on your own. You can also take a controlled tow flight, to learn how the wing feels in the air. And finally, you'll be guided through your first launches and landings, with your instructor helping every step of the way via private head set communication.

The most important requirement for this phase of training is that you're thoroughly practiced at kiting the wing. You'll spend the entirety of this portion of training working with the engine on, and then actually flying. The time consuming preliminary work should already have been completed fully, at your own pace, at your location and/or ours, according to your own schedule. You need to come to the engine-on stage of training largely ready to launch, confident in your kiting skills, and fully ready to practice with the engine, and then fly. You can choose to come for as short or as long a period as needed. Come for a weekend at a time, as many times as you want, or have an instructor come visit you. There's no need to schedule one or more extended vacation trips, but you're welcome to come and receive your first instruction for as many days, or even weeks, as you choose. Schedule short or long trips according to the weather, your schedule, your budget, and your instructor's availability.

3.4 Ongoing Support

When you're done with the full course, you'll receive ongoing help and support from a teacher you know and trust. Help evaluating launch sites, weather conditions, equipment choices, etc., is invaluable as you begin your journey flying alone. Throughout the course, you'll learn from a certified instructor with many years of flying experience. You'll learn to fly safely and comfortably, at your own pace, without any rushed pressure to get through the most time consuming and critically important phases of the learning process.

3.5 Advanced Training

Once you've completed the basic course, and have some hours flying in the sky, you can continue to learn more advanced maneuvers and more about how to fly in difficult conditions, if that's where your journey takes you. Learning to perform higher G-force aerobatic moves, how to free-fly from hills without a motor, how fly in mid-day thermals, how to prepare for long distance journeys, etc., can add tremendously to your ability and the joy which comes from flying a paramotor. As with every other phase of training, you can choose to perform the training at your location, or at an instructor's site, and receive a personalized program which is right for your needs.

4. Can Paramotor Flight be Self-Taught?

Please don't try to train yourself.

5. Contact

If you have any questions, you can call or text any time: 215-630-(six seven five nine). You'll speak with a friendly and patient instructor who's willing to spend lots of time answering every question you want to ask, before you begin any of the process. If you don't get a human answer immediately, please leave a voice or text message. Except on rare occasions, you'll get a call back the same day.