How Many States Are There in the United States?

A map showing the United States.

Located in North America, the United States of America is roughly the same size as Europe. The country is subdivided into states, territories, and minor islands. States are the major subdivisions and are bestowed several powers and responsibilities by the US Constitution.

Number of States In The US

Currently, the US has 50 states as well as a federal district, minor islands, and five main territories. Of these 50 states, 48 of them are contiguous, that is, they are connected directly. These 48 states all exist in the central region of North America between Mexico and Canada. Examples of these states include Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming, Oregon, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. The other two states are Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska lies on the northwestern portion of North America while Hawaii is located on an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.

Delaware is the oldest state in the country. It was established on December 7, 1787. The youngest state is Hawaii which was founded on August 21, 1959. The largest state by total area is Alaska with 665,384 square miles while the smallest is the state of Rhode Island with a total area of only 1,545 square miles. By population, California is the most populous state with about 39,536,653 people while the least populous state is Wyoming with only 579,315 people.

Territories Of The US

Aside from the 50 states, the US owns 14 territories. Of these territories, only five have permanent civilian populations. These five territories are American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. All of the territories lie on the Pacific Ocean except for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Navassa Island, and Puerto Rico, which are in the Caribbean. Only the territory of Palmyra Atoll is incorporated, that is, the US constitution is applied fully. Of the 14 territories, ten of them are unorganized (do not have an Organic Act) while the remaining four are organized.

Washington, D.C.

As mentioned previously, the US has one federal district that is neither a state nor a territory. The District of Columbia does not have representatives in the Senate although it has representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The US Congress, as outlined in the constitution, has exclusive jurisdiction over the district. However, it has a mayor and council that makes some decisions under the 1973 District of Columbia Home Rule Act, although Congress can intervene and overturn decisions.

Where are Paramotors Allowed to Fly in the United States?

So you’ve heard about paramotors. Maybe you even have a friend who flies one. And you’ve heard that they can just unload their stuff and take off from anywhere. Perhaps you’ve also seen those people on YouTube flying their paramotors to McDonald’s and back. And this whole time, you are wondering to yourself, “Can that be legal??” Well, today I’ll answer that question for you.

So, where are paramotors allowed to fly in the United States? Paramotors are permitted to operate pretty much anywhere in the US, with a few exceptions. Paramotors cannot fly within 5 miles of an airport, over populated areas, or in any Class A, B, C, or D airspace. They are allowed in class G and E airspace.

Let’s go into the detail of what this means and take a look at the other rules paramotorists must follow while in the air.

So, They Can Really Just Fly Anywhere?

Back in the day, there were no flight rules. There were just a few crazy inventors trying to get planes in the air. In time, as aircraft started staying in the air, some rules were to keep people safe – both in the air and on the ground.

As the range of aircraft has broadened, and their speed and volume have increased, the rules governing air traffic have expanded.

So to put it simply, paramotors can fly anywhere except where it is specifically written they can’t. They also have to follow all of the general airspace rules, and they have to follow special rules for paramotors.

These limits include visibility requirements, cloud distance requirements, and staying away from airports.

Why the Rules?

Today, the big planes are moving with such speed you might have fewer than 3 seconds to see one coming and react. Small planes are also moving swiftly. With paramotors topping out at about 40 or 50 miles per hour, flyers have little time to react to significant obstacles.

In the 1980s, the FAA took a serious look at air traffic. They undertook a review of paramotors and other small aircraft traffic like gliders and paragliders. As a result of this review, the FAA made some significant decisions about how paramotoring should fit into the air traffic mix. What they decided was that paramotoring would remain unregulated.

The FAA’s decision to keep paramotors unregulated came because they determined that if paramotorists follow a basic set of rules, then they do not pose a serious enough risk to people and property to require them to have a pilot’s license.

The FAA gave paramotorists the gift of “self-regulation,” which means that a paramotorist is responsible for flying safely and making a lot of judgment calls. It also means that we have a ton of freedom, which we should use carefully.

The key to staying safe on a paramotor lies in following the airspace rules that the FAA has established. Here I will explain them in greater detail.

If there isn’t a rule for your specific situation, that doesn’t mean you are free to do whatever you want. It means you have to make a judgment.

1) Paramotors And Airport Rules

As with many things to do with paramotoring, the use of airports, and the airspace around them is not simple. So, I’ll do my best to explain it as clearly as possible.

Some private airports accept FAA grant money, while others do not. You will need to know if an airport is receiving FAA grants because they impact your rights of use. To find out which airports receive FAA grants you can visit the following page, which give you current and historical grant information:

Airports Without FAA Grants

There is nothing to say a private airport, which does not accept FAA grant money, has to let you use their facilities. If you ask to use the airport and the owner says no, then the answer is no.

Airports With FAA Grants

When an airport accepts an FAA grant they must comply with the Airport Improvement Plan Assurances.

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This document says that by accepting an FAA grant, the airport operator must not discriminate against any legal aeronautical activity. This includes paramotoring.

At the same time, this does not mean you can fly your paramotor to, from or around any airport you like.

Why? Two reasons.

  1. The rules also say that an airport operator can limit or prohibit any aeronautical activity if that prohibition is necessary to “serve the aviation needs of the public” or to “ensure the safe operation of the airport.” The airport operator does not decide what is safe and what is not. The FAA makes this decision.
  2. There are also a plethora of other rules that regulate where and when you can use an airport and airspace.

Let’s take a look at those next.

2) Right of Way Rules

As a paramotorist , you have almost the last priority in the skies. The only thing lower than a paramotorist in priority is an unpowered paraglider. Know that it is your job to stay out of the way of every other plane in the sky. As a result, you want to stay away from airports altogether.

Even if you are more than five miles out from a larger airport, know that planes can travel that distance in seconds. Jets are coming in hot and don’t have the maneuverability to just dance around a paramotor that is in their way.

So, it is better to give more substantial aircraft plenty of room and not be anywhere close to them. Remember, it’s not just your life you are playing with, it is the lives of everyone on the ground and everyone in another plane. Even seemingly small things can bring down big planes.

Also, keep in mind the FAA’s nonregulation decision. Paramotors are unregulated because they expect us to regulate ourselves. If we can’t, and cause some horrible, preventable tragedy, that self-regulation will probably be gone in a blink of an eye.

3) Where You Can Fly Rules

Before we get into the detail of Airspace Class rules, there are some general points to make.

Populated Areas

The FAA’s rules on paramotors include provisions that:

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons.

Title 14 – Aeronautics and Space Regulations: PART 103—ULTRALIGHT VEHICLES
Subpart B—Operating Rules

But what exactly does this mean?

Like many of the FAA rules we must follow, it comes down to a case of you’ll need to make a judgment call.

Does it mean that you can never fly over any building ever?

Well, probably not.

Does it mean that you can’t fly over a town?

This is probably closer to what they mean. When you are flying a paramotor, you want to be in sparsely populated areas and have plenty of room to land in case of an emergency.

International And Domestic Notices

Also, know that you can’t fly a paramotor in any airspace that has a current International Notice or Domestic Notice and it is your responsibility to check them before every flight.

These notices replace the previously used NOTAMs or Notice To Air Men. They are issued by the FAA to give a warning about the weather , events, and anything else that a pilot should know about flying in a particular area.

Some aircraft can still fly in an area with an FAA Notice, depending on what type of issue it is describing.

And for those of you who live in D.C., I’m sorry to tell you, Washington, D.C has extraordinarily complicated and restricted airspace regulations. Paramotoring is just not allowed here.

Also, it’s important to know that the airspace directly around the President of the United States is a perpetual no-fly zone, wherever that happens to be.

4) Airspace Rules

Airspace rules are complex, so consider this a simplified version.

In the US, airspace is relatively simple to understand. It is split into classes labeled A through G, excluding Class F, which is not in use in the US. There are also areas of “special airspace.” Within areas of special airspace, the procedures and regulations for flying are still controlled by the lettered airspace classes.

Some of the lettered classes cover areas around airports and others refer to layers of air. There are three main layers: A, E, and G.

Airspace Classes A, E, And G

Right at the ground, there is Class G airspace. This extends from ground level to, but not including 1,200 feet above the ground, although in a few remote regions, the upper limit can be higher. Class G airspace has the fewest regulations and is not covered by Air Traffic Control.

From 1,200 feet above the ground, all the way up to, but not including 18,000 feet above sea level is Class E Airspace. This airspace has a wide range of use and has more rules than Class G.

Finally, everything from 18,000 feet above sea level and above is Class A airspace. Unless specifically authorized, aircraft operating in Class must use Instrument Flight Rules and be under Air Traffic Control.

Airspace Classes B, C, And D

You will find classes B, C, and D airspace around airports managed by Air Traffic Control.

Although there are a few different requirements, for our purposes, classes B, C, and D are all pretty much the same. They are the very controlled airspace around airports that allow planes to fly and land safely in a tight, sometimes overcrowded space.

These airspaces extend all the way to the ground. So the Class E and Class G airspace that would normally be there at the airport is not there. It is replaced by the B, C, or D airspace that is there serving the airport.

Paramotors are pretty much never allowed in Class B, C, or D airspace. This means that they do not need to ever be in contact with air traffic control. This also means that they can’t take off from a traditional airport.

Not that we need to, of course. We can take off in less than five steps from pretty much anywhere else we want.

Paramotor Airspace

So coming back to our discussion on paramotors, paramotors are allowed in Class E and Class G airspace only. This means the very upper limit of where a paramotor can fly is 17,999 feet above sea level. Not that you’re likely to want to go that high, it’s cold and boring up there…

No pilots license is required, in class E or G airspace but you do have to follow all of the Class G and Class E airspace rules as well as the aviation right of way rules.

5) Class G Rules

Air Traffic Control does not cover class G airspace, and it is everywhere that class A – F is not. This class extends from the ground up to, but not including 1,200 feet above the ground. A paramotor can climb this high in just a few minutes.

The rules for Class G airspace in a nutshell thus: You need visibility of at least one mile, and you must avoid all clouds. Simple, right?

Avoiding Clouds

If you are wondering why you need to keep clear of clouds, the reason is simple: everybody wants to avoid collisions. If two planes decided to cross the same cloud at the same time, they would collide. There is no safe way to fly through a cloud on a paramotor.

Now you are probably saying, “Well Zach, when I fly commercially, we go through the clouds….” And you are right. Planes can safely fly through the clouds under certain circumstances.

VFR and IFR

You see, there are two modes of flying: VFR and IFR. VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules, and IFR stands for Instrument Flight Rules. VFR means you need the visibility that I just described. When a pilot doesn’t have that kind of visibility, they can use IFR as their flying mode.

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Aircraft that pass through clouds are operating on IFR. That is the only safe way to go through the clouds. IFR involves many instruments as well as communication with the Air Traffic Controllers.

It is more controlled and it is safe because all of the instruments can let the pilot know exactly where the plane is, and Air Traffic Control can let the pilot know that there are no other aircraft around. No plane is allowed to enter a cloud while on VFR, it must be done while on IFR.

You must be flying VFR, which means that you can do it without most instruments and without guidance from Air Traffic Control. Without IFR, there is no safe way to fly through the clouds and you must avoid them.

6) Class E Rules

Rules for flying in Class E airspace follow a similar pattern to those in Class G. However, they do vary a little, depending on how high you are.

1,200 To 10,000 Feet

Once you are entering Class E (at 1,200 feet above ground level), you need to have three miles of visibility. You also need to maintain 1,000 feet of distance above, 500 feet of distance below, and 2,000 feet of distance to the side of any clouds.

Above 10,000 Feet

At 10,000 feet above sea level, those distances increase further. Above 10,000 feet, you must maintain 5 miles of visibility, and 1,000 feet distance above, 1,000 feet below, and one mile of distance to the side of any clouds.

These distances increase because the airplane speed limit changes at 10,000 feet. Below this altitude, all planes are limited to 250 knots or about 287 miles per hour.

At higher speeds, there is less time to react. A paramotor could be hit by a plane without you even seeing the other aircraft. Or you could see a plane but not have enough time to react without colliding.

7) Miscellaneous Rules

There are a number of other rules you must observe when flying a paramotor and they can all be found in the Federal Regulations, Title 14 – Aeronautics & Space, Part 103 Ultralight Vehicles.

For ease of reference, and so you can review the actual FAA document occasionally, as well as check for updates, I’ve included the relevant regulation numbers

103.21 Visual Reference With The Surface

You must always maintain visual contact with the ground when flying a paramotor. While flying, you cannot ever allow a cloud to get between you and the ground.

103.11 Daylight Operations

Technically, legally, and practically, you can’t fly after dusk or before dawn.

“Dusk” is defined as thirty minutes after the legal sunset of your location and “dawn” is defined as thirty minutes before the legal sunrise at your location.

Why? This all goes back to the Visual Flight Rules mentioned earlier.

If you can’t see, then how are you going to fly VFR?

Not only is your risk for a mid-air collision greater, but as your depth perception is reduced you are at greater risk of hitting something else.

You will also have a harder time finding your landing site. It can get really disorienting, really fast once it is dark.

Oh and it’s illegal. So don’t fly at night.

103.9 Hazardous Operations

The regs also state that you must not operate a paramotor in a way that creates a hazard for other people or property.

Again, there is no detail on what constitutes a hazard, you should just be sensible and use good judgment.

Where You Can Fly

So far we have talked a lot about where you can’t fly, but let’s talk about some of the amazing flying opportunities that are available to you as a paramotor pilot.

Flying on a paramotor, you can do things that pilots flying any other aircraft could only DREAM of doing.

One example is over beach areas. Any pilot can fly over a beach, but they can’t do it very close to the surface. They also can’t breathe the heavy air, smell the sea, or hear the waves crashing below.

The same thing goes for fields. Any pilot can fly over a field, but only a paramotorist can fly closer to the ground, smelling the dirt, the corn, or whatever there is to be experienced there.

I also need to put in a word from sunrises and sunsets here. They are amazing from the air. They are also the best times to fly, as the air is the calmest at these times.

These are all examples of places that few regular aircraft could ever fly. They are also the most exhilarating way to experience flying. Being so close to the ground, you don’t need to be going very fast to experience a really cool flight.

Where You Can Fly From & To

Another amazing thing about paramotoring isn’t just the places you can fly, it is the places you can start flying from. With a paramotor, you can take off in about five steps. Five steps!

This means you can take off from basically any spot where you have permission. Whether it’s a farm, dirt field out in the middle of nowhere, a beach, or on a mountain, you can just go. All it takes is a few minutes to set up your wing and you can be off.

Speaking of permission…

Permission

This is another really important aspect of flying a paramotor. As with anything else, if you don’t have permission to be on someone’s land, then you are trespassing.

The landowner might be just fine with that, but chances are they will not. Always ask first.

Farmers usually have some open space that they might be willing to let you use if you ask. If you offer to get them some aerial photos of their farm, their town, or something else important to them, they might be more willing to let you use their space.

However, lots of land falls into a gray area. In public places, like parks, there might not be any technical legal blockage to you taking off there. But if you start bugging people by taking off there, you will probably get some technical legal blockage enacted to stop you from taking off there.

So you need to be wise. Public land in rural areas, or any field that you have permission to use, are usually the best places.

The “Don’t Be Annoying” Rule

More than anything, as paramotorists, we need to remember, please, please, PLEASE, don’t be annoying That is the quickest way to get paramotoring banned from an area.

Several beaches in California have now banned paramotor flights because the locals got too annoyed by the people flying there.

In general, you should try to help the general public to see paramotoring as something cool to look at from a distance, not something that you dread coming close to your house every time you hear the motor coming in the distance.

My Personal “Don’t Be Annoying” Policy

My “don’t be annoying” policy usually includes the following components:

  1. Don’t litter. This is quite possibly the fastest way to drive locals up the wall.
  2. Know the law. This article is about federal laws and regulations covering paramotors. However, there may be local or state laws that also govern paramotor use. Also, if you are ever trying to fly a paramotor outside of the US, research the local law because different countries can vary widely on what their take is on paramotors. And, if you fly close to the border of the US with Canada or Mexico, be sure to know their laws, just in case you stray into their airspace, or need to make an unscheduled landing.
  3. Don’t disturb any animals. Animals can get freaked out by paramotor noise, and then the owners have to spend time to calm them back down. If it is an animal on a farm, then getting spooked by a paramotor can actually disturb their production, whether that be milk, eggs, etc. Likewise, wildlife can be negatively affected by paramotors. This could become a significant issue if that wildlife is protected or causes some kind of problem as a direct result of your flight.
  4. Don’t fly too close for comfort. While it is true that one of the coolest parts of paramotoring is operating close to the ground, don’t fly too close to people. Don’t fly as close as you possibly can to someone’s crops, either.
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Free Flying

So as you can see, it really is legal to fly to McDonald’s on your paramotor, as long as it is not in a very populated area, you are not within five miles of an airport, you are not in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace, it is during daylight hours, and you have met all of the visibility requirements for the airspace you are using. Pretty cool, eh?

If you are interested in learning how to apply the ins and outs of paramotor rules, you should go take a lesson or tandem flight.

A tandem flight is a great way to get started, as you can ask the pilot all of your questions to your heart’s content and get a taste of what paramotoring is all about before putting down a bunch of money on it.

Related Questions:

Can paramotors be flown close to each other? P aramotors can be flown close to each other. You can fly with your friends as long as you keep a safe distance from each other and are all vigilant for other air traffic. Some groups even put on radio headsets to be able to communicate with each other.

How long have paramotors been around? The first true paramotor was flown in 1979. It had a flight range of about five minutes.

11 Best Paragliding Spots in the United States

Amongst all the adventurous sports, Paragliding holds a special value that cannot be underestimated. Paragliding is all about flying freely in the air while having a necessary aid in the shape of parachute which allows you to hold your body weight and explore the highest skies in the most beautiful manner.

The United States is indeed full of some breath-taking beautiful mountains, hiking locations, and also the paragliding spots which could help you to enjoy your trip, just rightly.

1. Sedona Red Rocks

Sedona Red Rocks

Paragliding in Sedona Red Rocks is all about inhaling the fresh dessert air which is backed by the smell of Juniper flowers, red clay, wild forests, and the limestone.

This spot is one of the popular travel destinations for flying enthusiasts and adventure-seekers offering a wide range of paragliding opportunities.

No worries, if you are a beginner, the training crew will help you fly.

2. Jean Ridge Dry Bed

Jean Ridge Dry Bed

The one-mile long ride at Jean Ridge Dry Bed holds the potential of becoming the favorite ride of the visitors.

Jean Ridge Dry Bed consists of the soft sand rock which allows the flyers to take their first flight very smoothly. The best time to visit Jean Ridge Dry bed is during the summers.

3. Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs

If you are looking for a perfect place where you could witness beautiful mountains and the panoramic view of lakes then, visiting Glenwood springs is the right bet for you.

This paragliding sport in the United States consists of the smooth landing positions and also some hiking zones which allow you to have a nice flight even on your first try.

4. Good Springs Spot in the United States

Good Springs Spot in the United States

Good Springs is the right spot for the dessert thermal flying and one of the chosen locations by the experienced flyers.

The spot can be navigated between the Good Springs and allows the flyers to have an uninterrupted flight for 62 miles where they can get access to some beautiful mountain ranges and lakes.

5. Paragliding in Sun Valley

sun valley

Sun Valley is one of the most popular paragliding spots in the United States and known for its incredibly designed ski resorts that allow the adventure seekers to make the most out of their trip and enjoy the beauty of the place at the same time.

While having your first flight from the smooth soft rocks, you can experience the fresh air derived through the mountains.

This spot is specially designed for the experienced flyers because of the level of height it offers.

However, the beginners can also try their luck at this spot with the help of tandem flight but since Paragliding is a dangerous sport, therefore, the management recommended the flyers to have a perfect training before they come to this paragliding spot.

6. Paragliding at the Mount Point

Paragliding at the Mount Point

If you are visiting the United States and you are done hiking all the beautiful mountains and explored all the salty lakes then, the next spot which you should visit is Mount Point.

Paragliding at Mount Point could be an ideal deal for the beginners because it allows them to choose the level of flight based on the level of their skills.

While flying, you can easily get a view of some ice-caped mountains and frozen lakes.

7. Paragliding in Hawaii

Paragliding in Hawaii

Hawaii is indeed one of the favorite places for adventure seekers.

While paragliding in Hawaii, the flyers can get access to Pacific fresh blue water, lush mountain ranges, some breath-taking volcanoes, and beautiful lakes which can leave you in complete awe.

The paragliding at Hawaii is an ideal bet for the people who would love to get an aerial view of the state while experiencing the fresh winds.

The paragliding flight at Hawaii initiates from the Waipoli point.

8. Tiger Mountain Spot

Tiger Mountain Spot

Tiger Mountains is a thunders-smoke paragliding spot for the beginner flyers offering a perfect place where they could take some smaller flights while experiencing the breath-taking yet miraculously beauty of nature.

The launching platform tiger mountain initiates from a very basic point thus making it easier for the gliders to get the best out of their trip.

9. Golden Spot in Canada

Golden Spot in Canada

It won’t be wrong to state that Golden Spot in Canada is created by nature so that people could get a maximum thrill at multiple levels while experiencing the flight that cannot be compared with anything else.

Paragliding at Golden Spot is just like flying over some of the beautiful mountains, and fast-moving winds that allow you to fly higher and higher based on your skills.

Even if you are a beginner glider then, you can also visit this best paragliding spot in the United States and fly along with some of the experienced individuals.

10. Puebla, Mexico

Puebla, Mexico

Puebla in Mexico is one of the professional paragliding spots in the United States where beginners, as well as experienced gliders, can easily fly and experience the ecstasy of nature.

11. Paragliding in Valle de Bravo

Valle de Bravo

Valle De Bravo is commonly referred to as the Mecca of Paragliding because of the unique features it offers to the adventure seekers.

This spot is also known for holding several events for the world-class flyers throughout the world.

If you are an experienced flight-taker then, this place is an ideal spot for you.

Although, there is no doubt in the fact Paragliding is one of the dangerous sports which requires a lot of effort but once you have conquered your fear then, nothing could stop you to enjoy this sports freely.

Source https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-many-states-are-there-in-the-united-states.html

Source https://outdoortroop.com/where-are-paramotors-allowed-to-fly-in-the-united-states/

Source https://inspirich.com/paragliding-spots-us/

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