Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: Which one poses less risk to pilots

I speak to many aspiring pilots who are struggling to decide between learning paragliding or paramotoring. The two sports may look very similar, but they actually differ in more ways than first meets the eye. Although they are both very fun, they both carry certain risks that all new pilots need to be aware of. But which one is the safest, and why? That’s what we will be finding out in Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety.

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: Paragliding

When new pilots learn to paraglide they will be taken to the top of a hill in calm conditions for their first solo flight. They’ll launch from the top and and slowly glide down to the bottom, hence the name top to bottom flights. These initial flights are taken in very low wind with no thermal activity to ensure the safest flight possible.

Unfortunately the calm conditions that we take our initial flights in will be no good for any pilot that wishes to stay aloft. In order to stay in the air a paraglider will need either wind to create lift, or strong thermals to push the paraglider upwards.

Pilots will search for smooth laminar air at the launch site and most will fly while there is thermal activity. This ensures the pilot will achieve a good lengthy flight time, something paragliding pilots crave.

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: Paramotoring

When new pilots learn to paramotor, their initial flights will also be taken in calm conditions. They can launch from a flat field or a hilltop as with paragliding.

A paramotor is never dependant on wind or thermals because of the thrust from the engine pushing it along. Launching will always be easier with wind, but it’s not essential, nor is it required to stay aloft.

Pilots will usually fly early mornings before any thermal activity, or late evenings after the thermals die off. Flying mid day during strong thermals is never recommended because of the risk it poses to pilots.

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: The dangers of paragliding

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety paragliders

As we previously mentioned a paraglider needs strong wind or thermals to stay aloft, unfortunately both of these carry risks. We found out in my wing collapse article that strong wind poses a risk because of turbulence at low altitudes. For example, launching and flying downwind of any obstacle will cause dangerous turbulence known as rotor. This turbulence can easily cause a wing deflation called a wing collapse, and if this happens at low altitude it can be deadly.

I witnessed this for the first time during my paramotor training back in 2013. The experienced pilot was ridge soaring, and only about 30 feet above the ground when the wing suddenly collapsed. It recovered quickly at about 15 feet, but quickly collapsed again dumping the pilot onto the ground. Luckily he escaped with only a twisted ankle, but this is how many pilots have lost their lives.

Something else that can collapse a paraglider is flying in thermals, fortunately pilots can learn to recover their wing quickly. This is great with enough height, but problems still arise when a collapse happens close to the ground. Even the most experienced of pilots are falling victim to low altitude collapses with no chance of recovery.

Another danger that paragliding pilots face is themselves! Their keenness and yearning to fly can cause bad pre flight decision making. Some pilots travel many miles to their closest launch site only to find that the conditions aren’t perfect. Not wanting to leave and return home without a flight they’ll launch regardless, putting themselves in serious danger.

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: The dangers of paramotoring

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety paramotors

If a paramotor is launched in turbulent air or thermic conditions, pilots take the same risks as paragliding pilots. Although the constant forward motion that the engine provides along with the extra wing loading will make the wing slightly less prone to collapse.

Another danger that faces paramotorists is the propeller that spins just inches from the pilot. If the throttle gets jammed open before the pilot is strapped in there is a big risk of impact with the propeller. Read all about this and discover how to prevent this very common accident > HERE.

Or find out which paramotor uses a unique device to prevent these injuries occurring > HERE.

There’s also a risk of the brake handles getting sucked into the propeller and spinning the paramotor out of control. And the risk of the throttle cable hitting the propeller. Read more about this in my separate article where we find out whether paramotoring is really as safe as they say > HERE.

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: Which one is safer?

The thing that makes both of these sports safer is the pilots ability to make good decisions. That includes choosing a good launch site free from turbulence and obstacles, and good judgement of weather conditions.

But with good training paramotoring is still considered much safer than paragliding for many reasons.

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1. As we’ve already mentioned, paramotors can be launched in zero wind with no thermal activity. During training paramotorists are warned against flying in conditions that paragliding pilots long for, strong wind, or mid day thermals. Pilots will tend to launch on calm mornings before any thermal activity, or in the evening after the thermals die off.

2. Paramotorists have that same urge to fly as paragliding pilots, but low wind is much easier to predict than the perfect paragliding conditions. This means that paramotorists rarely end up ‘parawaiting’ in a field (waiting for the wind to drop).

But parawaiting is a common sight at paragliding hills, and unfortunately some pilots will always launch before conditions become perfect. This is the reason that you will see experienced paragliding pilots landing in trees, on cars, and taking wing collapses at 30 feet on a daily basis.

3. As I mentioned earlier paramotors have constant forward motion, and a higher wing loading which helps keep the wing inflated.

If a paraglider becomes parked (sat still mid air because of strong wind), there is a high risk of collapse. If the wind suddenly drops there is no forward motion to keep the wing inflated, so it collapses.

This was the reason for the collapse I mentioned earlier that I witnessed during training. I also witnessed a big paraglider collapse during the first UK Parafest event in 2015, as a pilot flew into rotor in strong wind.

The pilot came crashing down from about 30 feet, landing on top of a tent. About 2 minutes later a paramotor flew down the exact same flight path. It certainly looked a bit wobbly, but the wing remained solid throughout, and the pilot landed safely.

4. Engines give paramotorists the ability to climb to a safe altitude within seconds, even in zero wind. This places them above many dangers like rotor, and the extra height also gives pilots longer to react to any dangers. It also gives pilots more time to spot out landing options in the event of an engine failure.

Paragliding pilots often ridge soar using the lift that comes from strong wind to stay airborne. This is very often done no higher than 200 feet, and as low as they like. You very often see pilots skimming the hillside as they struggle to gain altitude. A drop in the wind with no altitude can lead to landings in undesirable spots, and wing collapses lead to many pilots being killed.

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: Can paragliding be made safer?

Again, the pilots pre flight decision making plays a big part here. Pilots very often see low air time flights as a wasted journey to the hill. This is when they start to push their luck and fly outside of the paragliders limits. And sometimes (allot of times) the itch to fly overcomes true abilities and safety.

To make paragliding safer, pilots need to accept that they may have to go home without flying some days. If there is any doubt whatsoever the pilot should not launch.

Pilots also need to understand what is going on with the weather up high. They should check multiple forecasts, winds aloft, thermal predictions, etc. And if they plan on long flights they should understand what might happen in the next few hours after launch.

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: Can paramotoring be made safer?

If the paramotor is launched in calm conditions paramotoring is much safer than driving your car to the field. The chance of a wing collapse on a calm morning or evening is very low. Whilst flying, the main danger will be other aircraft.

Pilots should always be aware of their surroundings, maintain plenty of height, and never get complacent. They should also expect an engine failure at any moment. So always have a landing option, avoid flying low over water, trees, or unknown areas where power lines are present.

Paramotors and paragliders can be difficult for other pilots to see. So pilots can make themselves more visible to other aircraft by fitting an anti collision light to their cages or helmets. Read about why we’re so difficult to spot and find out the best anti collision lights HERE.

To avoid accidents involving the propeller, engines should always be started after strapping into the harness. All other paramotoring safety issues are addressed HERE.

Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety: The decider

So we’ve looked at the main dangers of both sports and come to the conclusion that paramotoring is safer. But this is only because of the conditions that they are able to fly in. If a paramotor pilot launches in stronger conditions they can expect the same dangers as paragliding.

If you choose to learn paramotoring because of this conclusion there’s one thing you should remember.. The safety of the sport is ultimately up to you, the pilot. Good decisions make safer flights, remember that and get it right every time.

As a paramotorist you will occasionally get to the field and discover the conditions aren’t ideal. Never let the eagerness to fly push you into making risky decisions. Either wait it out, or go home and wait for the next flying window by using forecasts like Windfinder or XC Weather

If you enjoyed Paragliding VS Paramotoring safety, check out these:

Overcome your fear of flying and paramotoring > HERE.

Find out what the difference is between paragliding and paramotoring so you can decide which one to pursue > HERE.

Discover what paramotoring is really like from long time pilots point of view > HERE.

Find out exactly how much paramotoring will cost to learn and the running costs for a whole year > HERE.

Check out my review of the paramotor and engine that I’m currently flying, the Parajet V3 Moster > HERE.

Is Paramotoring an Extreme Sport?

Many may think of the idea of taking paragliding and adding an engine as dangerous and risky. It may make you stop and think, if this is a sport, it’s definitely in the extreme category. But is it really an extreme sport? I wondered the same exact thing. What I found was surprising. Let me tell you a little more about the great sport of paramotoring.

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So, is paramotoring an extreme sport? Paramotoring is intense, exhilarating and something that adrenaline-seekers are a fan of. It is definitely an extreme sport, but not the most dangerous sport out there. In the United States, rules, regulations and license requirements are minimal.

So, what is this sport all about and why do people risk so much to participate? Well, there are many reasons and they are intricate reasons at that. In this article, I will tell you more about why paramotoring is considered an extreme sport.

Paramotoring As an Extreme Sport

Although the idea of an extreme sport seems to be something that is a bit controversial, one thing is for sure, and that is that paramotoring is an extreme sport. On a discussion on Reddit, people discussed whether they thought paramotoring was a sport or not, and people sure had their opinions. But, the consensus was that because it has the potential of being extremely dangerous that it is an extreme sport.

I would go further to say simply the fact that you’re up to 18,000 feet in the air is enough reason to call it an extreme sport. KarmaCommando_ says it best by saying, “Okay but seriously, you’re suspended by a nylon wind thousands of feet above the ground. It’s extreme. End o’ discussion.”

About Paramotoring

Paramotoring is also known as powered paragliding, which pretty well explains what this sport actually is. It is basically paragliding with a motor attached. But, how does this actually change the game?

For the most part, the two are the same, but there are still some stark differences. Paramotoring involves only one person, the pilot. No assistance is needed! Unlike paragliding, you can launch from nearly anywhere because of the motor. With gliding, you have to hike up a mountain, and then jump off it.

Paramotoring is much more flexible, though. Once in the air, you can switch the motor on and off depending on whether you want to ride the wind or propel yourself somewhere specific.

The sport is surprisingly easier than you would think! It is a self-regulated sport and only requires training rather than any kind of license. That being said, the training is incredibly crucial, as training is with any extreme sport.

In order to participate in this sport, training is required, which makes sense. When in the air you’ll be in charge of the motor, the direction, and your own life. According to Seeker, in training, you’ll gain a “good understanding of how the different parts, such as the handheld throttle and the brake toggles work”.

This seems pretty important considering those are the things that will keep you in the air where you want to be and keep you from ending up broken on the ground. Surprisingly though, paramotor pilots actually require less training than paragliders do!

Sweet Competitive Drive

Although paragliding is an extreme sport, it is often thought of as gliding across the skies peacefully. Paramotoring is different in this way. Because paramotors don’t rely on things such as the wind, or the thermals, there is a lot more control given to the pilot.

The powerful motors help to propel pilots through the sky at never before seen speeds and never before seen heights. This new control and potential, of course, kicked people’s competitive drive into action. With paragliding, you just don’t have the same control and potential as you do when paramotoring.

While it is easy, there are still a few things that you need to do in order to stay safe. Just like any sport, if you start playing while you have no idea what you’re doing, you are very likely to get very hurt.

Paramotor Planet offers a great list of things to do to start paramotoring. Although it’s easy, they warn to not just buy all the equipment before even signing up for the training. It is important to make sure this sport is right for you before investing in it.

  1. Don’t buy your equipment before you start paramotoring.
  2. Before you start paramotoring get a tandem flight!
  3. Find a good paramotor instructor and school.
  4. Buy your paramotor and wing.
  5. Have fun learning how to paramotor!

Regulations and Rules

As stated before, paramotoring is predominately a self-regulated extreme sport in almost all countries. It is the responsibility of the paramotor pilots to not be in the wrong place at the wrong time. According to Para Jet, the UK is one example of where you need to be especially aware of certain regulations.

Paragliding or paramotoring

parapente vs paramoteur

We will see that these two sports are quite similar in their history and practice. But what are the differences between paragliding and paramotoring?

Paragliding and paramotoring, what are the differences?

Paragliding is a sport born from parachuting in the 70s. Indeed, parachutists were looking for a cheaper way to practice landing (without flying) and jumping from a mountain was the best alternative they found. As the years went by, the wings became more and more pilotable and above all their finesse rapidly improved to become real aircraft capable of exploiting thermals and staying in the air for many hours while travelling hundreds of kilometres. Find out more about the history of paragliding in one of our first articles.

histoire parapente

Paramotor was born from this combination of parachute and paraglider with the desire to take off from any open ground rather than having to do so from a mountain. Like an aeroplane engine, they had the idea of putting a motorized propeller in their back to get them off the ground.

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In 1981, a German, Bemd Gärtig, made the first paramotor flight with a foot launch. The parachute wing was home-made. It consisted of 7 boxes with a surface area of 30 m2 and a weight of 10 kg. The motorization was carried on the back and weighed 21 kg. Its propeller, mounted in direct drive, was protected by a cage.

A few years later, an American, Steve Snyder, created the first paramotor in the form of a cart equipped with two motors and attached to a parachute wing of about 35m².

Today, these two types of paramotors, wings and harnesses, have developed into more technical, safer and adapted equipment for the paramotor that allows you to fly longer, higher, further and safely.

histoire paramoteur

Paragliding and paramotoring are very similar due to their history. We find the same equipment (glider, harness, rescue, . ) with the only difference of having, in addition, this engine connected to a propeller that allows the pilot to take off from any clear place.

Two types of paramotors:

  • Harness paramotor: The paramotor harness is a simple motorised propeller protected by a cage and attached directly to your harness to take off on foot. The advantage is really the simplicity and speed of installation at takeoff and the smaller size. It is the closest thing to a paraglider, with only one more motor.
  • Trolley paramotor: This type of paramotor, as its name suggests, is a trolley on wheels with the possibility of attaching one or two harnesses to take off like a plane, rolling faster and faster and taking off quietly, without effort. Of course, this type of paramotor requires more financial means, transport and space but allows everyone to practice paramotoring.

Advantages and disadvantages of paramotor compared to paragliding:


  • The smallest motorized machine in the world to fly
  • Anyone can do it, regardless of age, size, physical condition, .
  • Possibility to take off from any open area (with permission from the owner of the launch site of course)
  • No need for favourable aerological conditions and thermals to climb to altitude
  • Possibility to cut the engine when you want, in the air, to enjoy a more peaceful flight while gliding, like in paragliding

Disadvantages :

  • A little more physical at take-off than a paraglider: mainly due to the weight of the equipment
  • Possibility to fly only in calm wind like a paraglider: maximum wind between 25 and 30 km/h
  • A lot of noise with the engine
  • More cumbersome than a paraglider: logical if there is an extra motor
  • More expensive than a paraglider: indeed, there is of course the cost of buying the paramotor and the fuel consumption in addition
  • Unlike paragliding, it is necessary to have a pilot’s licence attesting to a certain theoretical and practical basis issued by the Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile. It is therefore necessary to go through a training course in a paramotor school to be able to practice paramotoring. Of course, this is also strongly recommended for paragliding for logical reasons of safety, even if the regulations do not make anything compulsory


What is the difference in cost between paragliding and paramotoring?

As we have seen, there is a great proximity between these two sports. The equipment is almost identical with the exception of the paramotor.

The cost of the basic equipment: glider, harness, rescue, helmet, . will be the same as in paragliding. Count on about 4200€ for a new one.

Then there is the price of the paramotor, which varies according to the model and the type of paramotor you choose: harness or cart. It is necessary to count between 5500€ and 8000€ for paramotor harnesses and between 8000 and 15000€ (even more) for paramotor carts.

In addition to this, there is also the cost of fuel to fly, which is not very excessive.

In terms of training, between paragliding and paramotoring, the costs to start are almost the same. 690€ for a 5-day introductory course (10 sessions) at Freedom Parapente and 1500€ for 25 paramotor sessions over the year at Volc’Envol (the paramotor school in Puy de Dôme).

Before you start, you can also discover the thrill of flying with qualified instructors who will introduce you to paragliding or paramotoring in tandem. Go to Freedom Parapente or Volc’Envol if you are in the area!

paramoteur et parapente différence

But which activity should you choose between paragliding and paramotoring?

It all depends on what you are looking for. Paragliding is going to be a sport with a greater proximity to nature. If you like to fly, you can go up to some sites by train, car or other and enjoy a simple quiet flight, exploit thermals, do some acrobatics, . But you can also take your equipment and go hiking in the mountains and take off from a summit to enjoy a walk and a flight in the middle of nature. Paragliding requires a little time to progress and to make longer flights and will depend on the days and the aerological conditions.

If you like to fly and discover the landscape from above, paramotoring is a great alternative. You will be able to enjoy long flights without having to concentrate too much on the day’s weather and thermals. If the conditions are calm, you’re in for a great flight. Of course, the cost of buying the equipment is higher than for paragliding and you will need a bit more space to store it.

We hope you know more about these two sports! It’s up to you to see which activity you might enjoy the most according to your desires and expectations.

Freedom Parapente
3 Chemin de la Chave – 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle
07 62 180 360




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