British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

BHPA Registered Schools are monitored for safety, the quality of the training they offer, and the equipment they use, and their instructors are licensed by the Association.

Hang Gliding and Powered Hang Gliding

Hang gliders are unpowered wings that can be launched from hills or winches, or launched by being towed aloft behind a microlight aircraft.

A hang glider can be turned into a powered hang glider by using a specially designed hang glider harness fitted with lightweight 2-stroke engine.



Paragliding and Paramotoring

Paragliders are unpowered wings that can be launched from hills or winches.

A paramotor or powered paraglider (PPG) consists of a small motor driving a propeller, worn like a backpack under a paraglider wing.




Parascending pilots fly canopies that are towed into the air by a Land Rover or winch before gliding back down to land.

Speed Flying

Speed flying is a sport based on the principles of paragliding, but using a specially designed wing to fly fast hill descents.

Powered Flight

A powered hang glider consists of a light weight motor driving a propeller that is fitted to a specially designed hang glider harness, in which the pilot is suspended under a hang gliding wing.

A paramotor or powered paraglider (PPG) consists of a small motor driving a propeller, worn like a backpack under a paraglider wing.

It is also possible to use human power to take off from level ground and fly specially constructed ultra light weight aircraft.

Powered Hang Glider


Human Powered Wings

BHPA Documents and Forms






Download the BHPA Elementary Pilot Training Guide (8.43mb)

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Paramotors (also known as a Powered Paragliders) combine the easy flying characteristics of a paraglider with the autonomy and range of powered flight.

John Coutts

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 £3,500 – £4,000, to which you need to add the cost of a new or second hand paraglider. You’ll also need a flying suit, 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.

How about competitions?

Paramotor competitions are usually held at a national level.

Forthcoming national paramotor competitions are listed in our competitions & events calendar, and our competition structure page outlines the competitions structure within the BHPA, and provides links to dedicated websites for British paramotor competitions.

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.

For more information about learning to fly a paramotor (PPG), please visit our learn to fly page.

The UK Paramotoring Facebook Page can also be a useful source of advice and information for anyone interested in learning to fly a paramotor. The Paramotoring Facebook Page is completely independent and is not affiliated in any way to the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.

What is a paramotor or motor paraglider?

What is a paramotor or motor paraglider?

If you are planning to get your own paraglider and want to learn how to fly it well by all means, you should definitely read the useful recommendations for beginners and learn as much as possible about this transport.

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Paramotor with trolley – paralet

A paramotor is a paraglider equipped with a power plant. With the help of a knapsack installation propeller, thrust is created, due to which a person can freely rise into the air even from horizontal platforms.

A paramotor with a trolley or a paralet is a convenient flying vehicle with a power plant, with which you can easily take off and move in the air in the absence of any special conditions.

A paralet is an almost compact personal aircraft that can be transported with you on any trip by loading it into the trunk of a car. For example, you have planned to go on a long trip to Russia or want to see some new places outside of it. Thanks to the paraglider, you can see them not only from the height of your height, but also fully enjoy the local landscapes from the sky. With it, you can see all the beauty of different places, not only as most other people see it, but by getting a full colorful picture.

History of the paraglider

The first parachute wing appeared in 1964 thanks to a man like Steve Snyder, who managed to make a real revolution in the field of parachute construction. For the first time, this device was decided to be used only in the middle of the next decade, when the French tried to paragliding down the mountain, starting from the slope on skis. In the future, the parachute was modified in every possible way for flights from the mountains, regularly extended, increased the area, the total number of sections, and also reduced the thickness of the lines.

Around the same time, the name “paraglider” appeared, which at that time looked almost identical to the wing, but experts could already distinguish these two devices from each other. With the development of technology, paragliders began to be made from reliable and ultra-light materials. For example, you can take a modern paragliding sling, which has a thickness of only 1.5 millimeters, but at the same time is able to withstand loads of 120-150 kg without any consequences, stretching by no more than 0.01%.

In Russia, the first paragliders began to appear only at the end of the 80s, and according to rumors, the first released model was the so-called PO-16, the design of which provided for additional side sections.

The principle of flight on a motor paraglider

The paraglider can be called without exaggeration the safest, lightest and lowest speed aircraft that exists today. The principle of its flight is the same as in the case of a parachute, but only this device provides for the possibility of controlled planning. In order to take off, a person does not have to take off into the sky on an airplane, but it is enough just to climb some hill or use special launch equipment, waiting for the appropriate weather conditions.

A paraglider has a short flight range due to the fact that gliding itself is very dependent on the wind as well as the characteristics of the air in a particular area. However, there are many professional paragliders who use special techniques to extend their flight with the help of wind and updrafts, so that they can cover huge distances.

A motor paraglider greatly simplifies flying, as it compensates for the above techniques using a special engine. It does not require any specialized devices for transportation or lifting into the air, and it can stay there for as long as the capacity of the tank used allows. With the help of a paraglider, a person can independently reach a height of five kilometers, and among other aircraft it can be called the most maneuverable. If the engine shuts down due to a failure or running out of fuel, a person can continue to control the flight, as is the case with a conventional paraglider.

If a powered paraglider has a reinforced wing and a powerful power plant, this device will lift not only the pilot, but also an additional passenger or some kind of cargo into the air.

Motor paraglider design

The standard design of the paramotor includes the following components:

  • Motor;
  • Frame;
  • Suspension;
  • Fence;
  • Fuel storage tank;
  • Wing hook system;
  • Drive control knob.

Often, such vehicles move using two-stroke internal combustion engines equipped with a gear or belt gearbox. In some cases, manufacturers equip their models with special centrifugal clutches that block the free rotation of the propeller during idling. The propellers themselves are in most cases made of carbon fiber or wood with two or four blades.

The basis of the design is a frame that holds the fuel tank, engine and other components. To ensure maximum reliability and durability while maintaining the required technical characteristics of the device, it is made from thin-walled steel, titanium, aluminum or composite pipes. Due to the use of a guard, the propeller is protected from slings, limbs and other foreign objects getting into it.

The harness is a seat that is equipped with seat belts to ensure a protected flight. In some models, the harnesses are equipped with foam polystyrene protectors designed to provide protection during a fall. In addition, the harness can be provided with a trunk and a container in which a reserve parachute, safety loops and other accessories will be stored. Suspension is made of lightweight synthetic materials.

The paramotor control features, as well as its sensitivity to weight adjustment and ease of wing control, largely depend on the wing hook system used. Depending on the version, they may differ from each other in the height of the suspension. The smaller the distance between the TP and the CG, the higher the sensitivity is and the controllability is simplified, but at the same time the wing transmits the “chatter” more strongly, and in addition, the reactive moment coming from the propeller is felt more strongly. It is best that the axis of rotation of the screw coincides with the hook point.

Some modern models use more modern and versatile devices in which the functions of the above devices can be combined with each other.

Among other things, the standard design provides for a special engine control knob – a small handle combined with a motor using a cable located in a Bowden shell. With the help of this device, a person can adjust the engine speed or adjust the thrust at the right time.

Features and nuances of the paramotor

Compared to a simple paraglider, a paramotor is heavier, more expensive and more difficult to operate, but it provides a freer flight that does not depend on the use of updrafts. The key feature of a motor paraglider is precisely that a person can fly wherever he pleases, and not just where nature deigns.

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Many people find it difficult to choose between a paramotor and a hang glider. It is impossible to say for sure which transport is better to use, since these are completely different devices, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The hang glider is equipped with a practically rigid wing, due to which it is more “flying” and faster, but on the other hand, the hang glider itself is heavier and overall. Because of this, paragliders have gained great popularity due to their availability, as they are a backpack that can be easily assembled after landing in 5-10 minutes and set off to the starting point, while it is unlikely that a hang glider will be able to fly without a team of assistants.

Paramotor classification

In addition to the standard paramotor, which is a propeller located behind the back of a person, there are also paralets – a special kind of paramotor in which the pilot, along with the engine, is placed on a special cart. Thanks to the use of a trolley during landing and takeoff, a person does not hold the engine on his shoulders, and in flight he can take much more fuel with him, but, on the other hand, if the knapsack design allows you to take off from almost anywhere, then the paraglider takes off only from a run, and to do this, you need to find a flat area on which there will be no bumps and potholes.

There are also many subspecies, including models:

  • Sports;
  • Educational;
  • Tandem;
  • Sedentary;
  • recumbent;
  • With soft or Kevlar back;
  • With soft protector;
  • Aerobacks;
  • A whole host of others.

Types and power of power plants

In most cases, a single-cylinder two-stroke power plant is used as an engine, the power of which is in the range of about 14 to 35 hp. To date, there are several manufacturers whose equipment is in greatest demand:

  • Ciscomorotrs
  • Simonini
  • Vottorazi

Paramotor cost

The cost of a new motor paraglider is in the range from 1 thousand to 3 thousand euros. For professionals, buying a canopy will cost a little more compared to models intended for beginner pilots, and this price always includes only the wing with lines, while the rest of the equipment will need to be purchased separately.

At the same time, in practice, beginners can easily choose affordable and reliable models that will quickly learn to fly, while providing comfortable and safe conditions at a low price.

Motorized paragliding equipment

From electronics for a comfortable flight with a motorized paraglider, the following additional devices can be installed:

  • Variometer;
  • Tachometer;
  • Altimeter;
  • Thermometer measuring the temperature of the engine cylinders;
  • Fuel level sensor;
  • Flowmeter.

How to learn to fly

To begin with, you should first understand the theory course as thoroughly as possible, as well as get used to controlling a non-powered paraglider. If this is done, then the procedure for learning to fly using a motor is unlikely to take a lot of time or cause any difficulties for a person.

If a person immediately tries to learn how to fly a paramotor, then in this case he should prepare for the fact that he will have to spend a fairly large amount of money. The cost of maintenance will be commensurate with the initial cost of purchasing all the necessary equipment, as many falls will have to be overcome during the launch or landing. In addition, one should not forget about a rather important safety issue, since a working paramotor propeller is ready to chop everything that gets into it.

The most important stage of learning to fly on a paramotor is the development of launch skills. The presence of many features of the suspension system and the large weight of the engine makes it harder for a paramotorist to receive feedback from the wing. If a person using a conventional paraglider stumbles at the start, then it will be enough for him to get up, dust himself off and make another attempt. At the same time, a mistake by a paramotorist can result in a breakdown of the screw engine and, possibly, an injury to the person himself.


Of course, paragliding cannot be called an absolutely safe sport, since the potential energy of height under adverse circumstances can always turn into the kinetic energy of a collision with the ground. But in fact, one cannot compare paragliders with some serious extreme sportsmen, since in the vast majority of cases the problems here are associated with sports injuries and inexperience.

Sports injuries mainly happen to those who fly a lot in competitions, as it often happens that athletes go to great lengths to get extra points and forget about their safety.

If you understand all the intricacies of paragliding and have enough perseverance to learn how to fly well, it will turn into an extremely pleasant and absolutely safe vacation, from which you will receive only the most positive emotions. It is thanks to this that paragliding is becoming more and more popular every year, gaining millions of fans around the world.

Paragliding vs. Parasailing


The main difference between paragliding and parasailing is that parasailers are attached to a vehicle (usually a motor boat) that generates enough momentum and connects the parasailers to safety.

Paragliding is a recreational and competitive flying sport. A paraglider is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. Parasailing is a recreational activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a specially designed parachute, known as a parasail. There are two types of parasailing: aquatic (over water where a motorboat is used) and terrestrial (over land towed by a jeep). With a paraglider, you can fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Paragliders routinely stay aloft for 3 hours or more, climb to elevations of 15,000′, and go cross-country for vast distances.

Comparison chart

  • current rating is 3.73/5
  • current rating is 3.59/5


The paraglider consists of a canopy (the actual “wing”) constructed of rip-stop nylon from which the pilot is suspended by sturdy kevlar lines called risers, and a harness. In addition, the brake cords provide speed and directional control and carabiners are used to connect the risers and the harness together. The pilot sits in a harness for maximum comfort. A paragliding harness should let you feel like a king on the throne; check out the ones with a lumbar support adjustment strap for extreme comfort.

Paragliding (with a canopy)

The wing or parafoil needs to have a total area of 250 to 350 square feet and a span of about 30 feet. The weight should be no more than 10 to 12 pounds. The more cells of the leading edge are closed the better chance to have a smoother aerodynamic experience.

A variometer allows the flier to find the right air hub to continue flying high or a sinking jet stream to return to the ground. Pick up a clearly audible version with an integrated GPS. These are worth the extra pricing. The newest GPS positioning devices have links to Google earth, which can show terrain changes and be extremely valuable in preventing a run-in with the unknown. you are subject to the air currents around you much more so than when in a private airplane. The variometer is a useful instrument for telling you how fast you are rising and falling, information that will help you fly with precision and control.

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Parasailing requires a parasail, tow rope, boat or land vehicle with a winch. Safe parasailing takes place behind a boat that has an engine with at least 90 HP. The company that organises parasailing must provide a body harness, a canopy for the start and a towline. In addition, safe parasailing requires an experienced boat driver, a skilled observer and a ground crew.

Safe Conditions

Safety is paramount when paragliding. Safe conditions include the right location such as a high cliff. Wind speeds can vary by the minute, but a paraglider should never take off into winds more than 15 miles per hour unless highly trained. Never fly in winds of 25to 30 mph.Never take off in wet conditions such as rain or snow. The wing will soak up the moisture quickly and an uncontrolled descent is likely to occur. Cloud cover can affect atmospheric pressure.

One should not parasail in winds exceeding 50mph. All parasailing participants need to wear life jackets to prevent drowning and helmets to prevent head injuries.there are no obstructions in your take-off path. Some obstructions include, trees, other boats and mountains.

Parasailing (with a parachute, and grounded to the boat)

Basic Principles

There are 3 basic principles to paragliding: how to launch, turn and land a paraglider. To launch the paraglider, run into the wind and down a slope with the paraglider behind you. This technique is called “hopping” and lets you get a feel for the lift the paraglider receives when it encounters air.

In parasailing, a rider (sometimes two) is put into a harness that is attached to a parachute. As the vehicle he is on goes faster, air fills the chute and the parasailer is lifted up, but remains attached to the vehicle by a tow line. Parasailers ride to the rear of boats equipped with winches–machines that pull tow cables and parasailers back to the boat. As the boat accelerates, the parasail catches air and increased pressure within it lifts the parasailer into the air, at which point his altitude is dependent on the speed of the boat.

An introductory lesson in paragliding costs about $500. A tandem lesson may cost less, around $150. A certification course costs an average of $1500. A paraglider costs between $4000-$5000. As safety is paramount, it is recommended that only new equipment be purchased.

A one hour 40 minute parasailing flight can cost up to $55 in the U.S.


The best way to start paragliding is with a tandem introductory flight. This gives you a taste of flying. You fly solo during your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. Under radio supervision, you will fly solo from the training hill and progress to higher flights, all in two days. The basic techniques of paragliding – launching, turning, and landing – are fairly easy to learn. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on your own without instructor supervision, you need to take a Novice (Para 2) Certification Course, which generally takes a total of 7 days and a minimum of 25 flights. As this is a self regulated flight one does not need a license to fly.

Parasailing requires no formal training, and most beaches and holiday destinations offer parasailing activities. The ground assistants take their positions holding open opposite sides of the sail. The boat driver slowly begins accelerating to take up the slack line while ground assistants and the parasailor move forward with the rope. Assistants hold the guidelines to help the sail fill up with air. The parasailor should take a few long strides with the rope taut, but not aid in the liftoff process by jumping or pulling up his or her feet. The canopy will do this on its own. Steer the parasail by pulling down on risers on the side of the desired direction. No steering should actually ever be necessary. Release the safety pin to allow the parasailor to float gently down into the water at either a high or low altitude.


Paragliding was originally used by the U.S. military and NASA. During World War II, the US Navy recruited and trained sailors to fly paragliders towed by submarines. The vantage point of the glider allowed the men to see over the horizon for any approaching warships. This was the first documented use of a free flying, foot launched aircraft in such a fashion. In 1961, Pierre M. Lemoigne invented the paracommander parachute, which had vents in the rear to allow for longer gliding From that time, paragliding has developed to become a popular recreational activity and a competitive sport. In 1978, three French paragliders, Jean-Claude Betemps, Andre Bohn and Gerard Bosson practiced a technique of running and jumping off the face of cliffs in the French Alps. This form of paragliding became increasingly popular, and in 1979 Bosson flew a paraglider at the Hang Gliding World Championships.

The first mentions of parasailing is a flight by Colonel Michel Tournier from France flying behind a tractor in 1961. In 1963 Jacques-André Istel from Pioneer Parachute Company bought a license from Lemoigne (who invented the paracommander parachute) to manufacture and sell the 24-gore parachute canopy he had developed for towing which was labeled as a “parasail”.


The first Paragliding World Championship was held in 1989 in Kossen, Austria. Since that time, the championships have been organized by the Paragliding Commission of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, or FIA, which governs all air sports. The championship is now divided into three separate events. One is for cross-country, another for aerobatic stunt, and one for accuracy. In addition to its championships, the FIA also maintains world records for paragliding.

Land based parasailing has been formed into competition sport in Europe. In land based competition parasailing, the parasail is towed to maximum height behind a 4 wheel drive vehicle and then releases the tow line and flies down to a target area in an accuracy competition. The sport was developed in the early 80’s and has been very popular ever since. The first international competitions were held in the mid 80’s and continue to run today.




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