Author Topic: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?  (Read 5411 times)

Milkshake

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Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« on: August 25, 2017, 08:42:31 AM »
So I've always been interested in flying and being my own pilot, etc. But getting a license is expensive, and buying a plane is way more expensive, plus you have to follow so many rules and regulations. Not worth it for me. Then I read about powered paragliding (PPG) and saw that there are very few regulations and it is generally very safe because it's low and slow flying.

It's about $8K input cost from what I can tell for a new system and training. Our rules are FIRE takes precedence so this money would come from side gigs and not my main income or investment income. My SO is concerned that I would buy it, fly it a few times and get bored.

It would probably take me until April to save up enough from side gigs to pay for this. Plus I don't want to learn how in the winter anyway. So if I'm still interested by April, I'm thinking I'll go for it.

Anyone else do this hobby or tried it? Do you ever get bored doing it? Is it worth it? Appreciate your thoughts!

nawhite

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2017, 10:08:49 AM »
Mostly posting to follow because I'm in a similar boat. I caught the parachute bug in college when I went skydiving 12 times until I ran out of money. Now that I'm an adult I realized that the flying part was the fun part not the falling part so I did a regular tandem paragliding flight this year and loved it and got all sorts of information about taking lessons. I'll probably start with the un-powered variety as it's cheaper and I live in a part of the country where we have the elevation to make it easy and fun but I'm definitely looking to hear others experiences with it.

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2017, 05:48:56 PM »
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/becoming-a-pilot-for-fun/msg1672153/#new

Exhibit A:  You'll see me talk about the alternative solution to "being a pilot" via paragliding.

Yes, I do it.  It's a fun hobby, but it's two fold.  You both have to be very proficient on flying and small, high performance engines.  If you are, great!  If not, regular paragliding can be had if you live close enough to a mountain for ridge lift or the ocean to cruise dunes. 

See the posted thread on my thoughts about safety.  Bottom line, get proper training.  Low and slow means nothing in aviation.  In fact, that type of flying is significantly more dangerous due to your limited response time if something goes wrong before you hit the ground.  It feels safer to humans because we are in a familiar environment, but it's frankly not compared to high altitude flying.  With that said, a properly trained paraglider pilot zooming around on a nice morning or evening (if you don't know why the afternoon is dangerous, be sure to ask during your training) is much safer than blazing down the highway in a car.  So take that for what it's worth.

On the boredom factor... eh, it depends.  If you're new to aviation and/or motors, there is a ton of stuff going on to make this a great hobby!  It really depends on your personality type.  If you like tinkering and enjoy solitude, it's awesome just on its own.  If you enjoy flying and you haven't done it much, it's great.  Eventually you'll have enough flying experience that it gets a bit lonely up there and flying around the same rocks (your range per tank is about 30 miles round trip) gets boring.  That's where joining a nice community that offers cross countries comes to play.  Just like people who join biker gangs get together just for a fun trip, you'll find the same thing with paragliding since you can't really take your family or friends up for an outing.  It's all about what you make of it really.

Grab the "Powered Paragliding Bible" by Jeff Goin.  He's a rock in the community.  I would say here to check the library, but frankly I doubt many libraries have a copy.  It should give you a solid baseline on your knowledge.  Also, Blackhawk paramotors (I'm not affiliated, I just trained with them) have some pretty awesome YouTube videos that help you simulate the experience and know what to expect.  They're what I show my buddies when they ask, "What's it like?"

On the engine subject, which is half of powered paragliding, I've seen people ship their motors in to their distributors for repair and maintenance.  Don't really understand it myself as the engines aren't that complicated, but that's always an option if you don't want to learn that half of it.

In the end, if you want to fly for real, this is the way to do it.  I've tried many other solutions and in this present moment, Powered Paragliding is the most economical and advanced (safe) version you have for personal flight.

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2017, 05:59:21 PM »
For funsies... some of the great dudes I've flown with.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjM4A86fqbk

lukebuz

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2017, 06:30:21 AM »
My dad gave it a whirl (pun intended) and don't forget - you need a LARGE storage trailer for it (an enclosed one is several thousand), and truck to tow it with. 

You need access to a long runaway.

Don't forget to set aside $2000 for a new prop and repairs when you set it down a bit too hard on your 2nd landing.

Also, don't forget another few G's for doctor bills and chiropractor visits to fix you up after said landing.

Depending where you are at - he might make you a good deal on said broken prop unit and trailer, sitting idle for 5 years now, as he is too old to fly the dang thing...

undercover

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2017, 08:18:47 AM »
My dad gave it a whirl (pun intended) and don't forget - you need a LARGE storage trailer for it (an enclosed one is several thousand), and truck to tow it with. 

What!? No. All you need is a hitch cargo carrier. Any car.

Quote
You need access to a long runaway.

Again, no. You can launch from pretty much anywhere. You need maybe 60-80 feet.

Quote
Don't forget to set aside $2000 for a new prop and repairs when you set it down a bit too hard on your 2nd landing.

Also, don't forget another few G's for doctor bills and chiropractor visits to fix you up after said landing.

With proper training, this should never happen. Logically, you've already taken several paragliding flights and learned how to control properly before ever adding in the motor. The motor isn't even necessary for flying other than propulsion. Only if you're a complete idiot and don't take the time to learn how to fly, maintain your gear, and read weather conditions would you ever have any major problem.

Maybe you misinterpreted the OP?
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 09:35:43 AM by undercover »

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2017, 10:40:28 AM »
My dad gave it a whirl (pun intended) and don't forget - you need a LARGE storage trailer for it (an enclosed one is several thousand), and truck to tow it with. 

You need access to a long runaway.

Don't forget to set aside $2000 for a new prop and repairs when you set it down a bit too hard on your 2nd landing.

Also, don't forget another few G's for doctor bills and chiropractor visits to fix you up after said landing.

Depending where you are at - he might make you a good deal on said broken prop unit and trailer, sitting idle for 5 years now, as he is too old to fly the dang thing...

You're thinking of powered parachuting.  It's older technology that required much more power and speed to get flying, hence the large chassis and engine you need to get airborne. 

Powered paragliding just requires a small two stroke that you wear like a backpack.  The wing is much more efficient at generating lift.  Props cost about $100 if you happen to ding one.

lukebuz

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2017, 01:33:51 PM »
Oh, well in the case, I am trying to discourage you from the wrong thing!  Carry on!

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2017, 01:52:40 PM »
Oh, well in the case, I am trying to discourage you from the wrong thing!  Carry on!

I've seen some of those old powered parachutes fly around.  I agree... they're death traps.  You lose the engine and the glide ratio is garbage.  They're basically a plane that forgot to bring ailerons and an elevator. 

Milkshake

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2017, 07:13:39 AM »
Thanks for the tips! Actually, that thread is where I first read about PPG, and it seems like the exact type of experience I've always wanted to try. I am in the middle of the plains, so unpowered paragliding is not really an option for me.

I do like tinkering and have a pretty solid knowledge base on repairing pumps and motors, so that should help reduce future maintenance cost. What kind of maintenance do you do? Like how often do you have to do major repairs, or buy new props, lines, cables, etc? What would you say the continuing operating cost is roughly? No need to be exact, just ballpark. $10/month? $100?

I definitely plan on doing proper training. I hear the ground is pretty unforgiving in a crash.

Dicey

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2017, 07:27:26 AM »
Are you guys lost?

Cadman

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2017, 10:36:21 AM »
Following. This is something I've wanted to pursue for a few years now but am waiting until I'm fully FIREd.

Milkshake

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2017, 10:56:53 AM »
Are you guys lost?

Are you trying to say that this is too expensive to be Mustachian? Given that I mention in the first post that I wouldn't let it interfere with my FIRE goals, I'm not sure what you are getting at. Being Mustachian includes enjoying the time to get to FIRE too. We aren't financing a 3rd pickup here.

Milkshake

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2017, 02:34:26 PM »
WildJager, do you know of any way to "try before you buy"? Like a rental, or I guess tandem would be safer. I'm still concerned that I like the idea of doing it more than I would actually do it. And buying a paramotor plus training is a really high cost for a one time experience.

Also, how often does weather limit your flights? Obviously it has to be a pretty calm day, but do you find that usually when you want to go flying you can?

Kroaler

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2017, 03:47:49 PM »
WildJager, do you know of any way to "try before you buy"? Like a rental, or I guess tandem would be safer. I'm still concerned that I like the idea of doing it more than I would actually do it. And buying a paramotor plus training is a really high cost for a one time experience.

Also, how often does weather limit your flights? Obviously it has to be a pretty calm day, but do you find that usually when you want to go flying you can?

I've also looked into this.   It looks very affordable , portable and safe compared to other methods of getting a person up in the sky.         I would venture to say it's probably safer then riding a motorcycle around for thrill....

Milkshake

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2017, 06:50:06 AM »
According to USPPA:

Quote
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.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2017, 10:05:10 AM »
This is on my bucket list. Tandem trial flights in my area run $75 (might really like it, might end up hating it...think I'd prefer soundless soaring, but that's not feasible in my area). A full training package costs $300, and pre-owned equipment runs $3k for the glider and paramotor.

If only MMM had approved this activity like he did kayaking, or camping, or beer brewing...


Milkshake

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2017, 11:54:52 AM »
This is on my bucket list. Tandem trial flights in my area run $75 (might really like it, might end up hating it...think I'd prefer soundless soaring, but that's not feasible in my area). A full training package costs $300, and pre-owned equipment runs $3k for the glider and paramotor.

If only MMM had approved this activity like he did kayaking, or camping, or beer brewing...

Really? That seems really cheap compared to what I've seen for prices. I should keep looking around I guess. What company(ies) are offering the tandem trial flights, if you don't mind my asking?

hoping2retire35

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2017, 07:57:05 AM »


Quote
You need access to a long runaway.

Again, no. You can launch from pretty much anywhere. You need maybe 60-80 feet.


explain this. I have only read you need about 600 feet; this basically my biggest hurdle to not doing this ASAP.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2017, 10:35:54 AM »
Really? That seems really cheap compared to what I've seen for prices. I should keep looking around I guess. What company(ies) are offering the tandem trial flights, if you don't mind my asking?

Are you using the USPPA website to find places near you? When I'd looked into this before, this was the place I planned to use: http://www.paratour.com/content/training.php.

nawhite

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2017, 01:06:41 PM »


Quote
You need access to a long runaway.

Again, no. You can launch from pretty much anywhere. You need maybe 60-80 feet.


explain this. I have only read you need about 600 feet; this basically my biggest hurdle to not doing this ASAP.

Looks like about 80 feet to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXMICR-hlf0 Sure you probably want a bigger area to give you enough space to get over the trees but still no where near 600 feet.

TempusFugit

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2017, 01:49:28 PM »
I've flown gliders but never paramotors.  I'm giving it serious consideration though. It looks like a blast.  The issue in my neck of the woods is controlled airspace.  The glider club I used to be a part of had to locate farther and farther away over the decades as the controlled airspace around my city expanded.  There was a definite point at which I lost motivation to drive so far to spend an hour in the air.  Of course, gliders do require an airstrip, whereas paramotors definitely do not.  But they are regulated and can't fly in controlled airspace.  So depending on where you live relative to any major commercial airports you may find that you have to drive a bit to get clear. 

I've only recently stumbled upon a youtube channel by Tucker Gott.  Take a look at some of his videos, which include some training footage (not footage to train yourself, but footage taken at a school to show you how training is done).  Echoing WildJager, you definitely want to get proper training before strapping yourself to one of these things.  It looks easy, but so is jumping off of a cliff. 

https://www.youtube.com/user/J3Cub2009

I'm giving serious thought to taking a vacation to one of the schools in FL or Washington to train in paramotors.  After that I may or may not actually buy the gear and take it up as a hobby. 

Retire-Canada

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2017, 07:02:54 PM »
I used to paraglide quite a lot, but I gave it up despite it being one of the most fun things I have ever done. In the places I've lived the flight time to time spent trying to fly was unfavourable. Beyond that the exercise value was awful. I saw a future where I would be fat and in poor health.

Now I mountain bike as my main hobby with surfing and kiteboarding on the side to fill the gaps. I remember my PG days very fondly as such amazing experiences, but I am very very happy I chose to spend my limited free time getting a ton more exercise.

HipGnosis

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2017, 03:21:32 PM »
I don't do it, but as an Air Force vet that flew in the back of big planes for 15 years, I'm an aviation enthusiast.  And now I'm thinking of looking into it.
I was already thinking my next vehicle might be a pick-up, and this could be a consideration.

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2017, 07:01:34 PM »
WildJager, do you know of any way to "try before you buy"? Like a rental, or I guess tandem would be safer. I'm still concerned that I like the idea of doing it more than I would actually do it. And buying a paramotor plus training is a really high cost for a one time experience.

Also, how often does weather limit your flights? Obviously it has to be a pretty calm day, but do you find that usually when you want to go flying you can?

Just go get the training.  You don't have to buy a rig, you use the trainers equipment.  If you find you don't enjoy it, you can stop at any time. 

Weather is no joke to any form of aviation, but it's especially important to light aviation.  However, I think you'll find some serenity in learning to appreciate and read the weather.  It's almost like surfing... you learn the waves of the sky.  Most people who fly powered avoid the turbulence you get from thermals, so they fly in the morning and evening.  When flying unpowered, you need either ridge lift or thermals to generate lift.  So, that type of flying is safe, just a bit less smooth and requires a better understanding of the environment.  Either way, high wind days should be avoided.  You are at the mercy of the weather more than other aviation by the nature of it, so aiming for smooth, crisp days are what you're going for.  Most days, even if the weather is rough midday, are perfectly acceptable for early morning/ late evening flying.

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2017, 07:09:07 PM »


Quote
You need access to a long runaway.

Again, no. You can launch from pretty much anywhere. You need maybe 60-80 feet.


explain this. I have only read you need about 600 feet; this basically my biggest hurdle to not doing this ASAP.

In flying, you have two issues to contend with for takeoff.  Ground roll and obstacle clearance.  The ground roll is very short, maybe only 30 feet if taking off into a headwind.  However, these paragliders don't climb out super great since you can't power straight up with the help of an elevator and strong engine.  Therefore, that's your limfac.  In an open field, you need barely any space to takeoff and land.  Surrounded by trees, I'd probably want something the size of a football field.  Keep in mind the length of the field needs to be going with the wind (so circular is better), and on windy days trees can produce rotor wash... which will cause you to have a bad day if you get caught in it. 

While you're new to this, even after taking lessons, the larger the open space the better for more "outs" if things go wrong.  It takes a strong understanding of the wind and how obstacles will affect the wind to be safe flying around buildings or trees.  Takeoff is more hazardous than landing, so an option is to have someone drop you off at a launch site further away (max about 30 miles) and then fly back home to a smaller landing site.  If you don't have a nice field near you, find a local soaring field or, even better, a crop duster launch pad.  The nice thing about such a small flying vehicle is that you can drive to where ever you need to go for some good flying. 

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2017, 07:17:15 PM »
Are you guys lost?

Powered paragliding costs about $1000 in training, and $6000 for new gear (cheaper for used of course).  The fuel burn is about a gallon per hour of regular gas.  Unless you live somewhere that is great for unpowered paragliding (most people travel for that luxury), it's a cheap option to satisfy the need for flying.  Much more cost effective than traditional light aviation.  Once the upfront costs are done, you're up flying for dollars a day compared to a $100+ an hour in a Cessna.  Maintenance costs are equally cheap, at no more than the cost of maintaining a lawnmower.

Is it expensive compared to other hobbies?  Sure.  But it's the most efficient way to fly, and unless I missed something this community is about effectively using our money to maximize happiness, not to just cut spending to the bone. 

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #27 on: September 06, 2017, 07:22:49 PM »
I've flown gliders but never paramotors.  I'm giving it serious consideration though. It looks like a blast.  The issue in my neck of the woods is controlled airspace.  The glider club I used to be a part of had to locate farther and farther away over the decades as the controlled airspace around my city expanded.  There was a definite point at which I lost motivation to drive so far to spend an hour in the air.  Of course, gliders do require an airstrip, whereas paramotors definitely do not.  But they are regulated and can't fly in controlled airspace.  So depending on where you live relative to any major commercial airports you may find that you have to drive a bit to get clear. 

Most paraglider pilots fly low.  Even in busy airspace, that will usually leave you in class G airspace which means you're good to go.  Most small controlled airports are class D, which is down to the surface in a 2.5 mile radius around the airport, so you have to avoid those.  For larger airports, though, their extended airspace usually has a floor which may only be as low as 2'500' or so.  Point is, even in busy airspace, flying low is widely allowed even with airliners buzzing overhead.  Check you local VFR charts to know your limitations.

WildJager

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #28 on: September 06, 2017, 07:25:11 PM »
I don't do it, but as an Air Force vet that flew in the back of big planes for 15 years, I'm an aviation enthusiast.  And now I'm thinking of looking into it.
I was already thinking my next vehicle might be a pick-up, and this could be a consideration.

I'm a herk guy.  What's your story?

TempusFugit

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Re: Powered Paragliding: Does anyone here do it?
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2017, 08:16:47 PM »
... find a local soaring field or, even better, a crop duster launch pad.  The nice thing about such a small flying vehicle is that you can drive to where ever you need to go for some good flying. 

re: the crop duster pad   we used to operate our glider club from a small municipal airport (uncontrolled) which was also home base for a couple of duster operations.  Boy, they did not like us.   On one particular day, we were operating our gliders from the grass strip parallel to the paved runways and the dusters where in high gear and annoyed I suppose, that we had right of way in the pattern.  One of those characters decided he would be a jerk (and a bad pilot) and landed over top of us as we were retrieving a glider. 

What he did not know, but discovered to his discomfort very shortly after, was that one of our members was the regional FAA instructor and another of our members (also on site) was a federal agent.  They hopped in a golf cart and discussed with him his other career options when he was no longer in possession of a pilot's license.  We didn't have any problem with him after that.