Do I Need A License To Fly?
If it is the first time that you practice paragliding, you are probably wondering yourself “do I need a license to fly”? The answer is no! If you are thinking about trying tandem paragliding with us, you don’t need any license or previous experience to enjoy the flight.
At Overfly Tenerife, all our flights are perfectly suitable for those who want to experiment at least once in a lifetime how does it feel — for those who want to try the amazing feeling of floating in the air. Especially, for those who want to learn to fly or beginners who need to improve their flying techniques. During the tandem paragliding experience, you will be flying with one of our great experienced instructors who will be by your side in your adventure.
The paragliding instructor who goes with you will take the control and he or she will guide you to the best places with the most astonishing views of the south of Tenerife. Due to the instructor is the one who controls and guide, hence flying without a license is an option with us.
Do I need a license to fly a paraglider?
Can you fly without a license? Paragliding is a technical sport, so it requires some theoretical training before taking off for the first time on your own.
As in any sport, safety is of outstanding importance — that is the reason why we want to make sure that we cover every aspect of safety, security and information before our pilots make their first flight.
So now the question is, do I need a license to fly on my own? The answer this time is yes. Licenses to fly are granted by paragliding federations in each European country under rules set by civil aviation authorities. These licenses to fly are given once you have passed a theoretical and practical exam. You must take an introductory paragliding course to do these exams, and it is taught in the paragliding schools mentioned above.
In Spain we have got the Real Federación Aeronáutica Española (RFAE), which brings together sports federations of regional scope, associations and sports clubs. It is an active member of the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI), which is the international governing body for aerial sports — founded in Paris in 1905.
What do I need to get a paraglider pilot license to fly?
I want to become a paraglider pilot, but I don’t know how to do it. What does it take to become a pilot? How to get a paragliding pilot license? We will tell you all you need to know about pilot license requirements and how to learn to fly and be a pilot.
As have mentioned previously, you have to obtain the proper formation to become a paragliding pilot. Normally, the regional paragliding federations of each country have a list of recognized paragliding schools and instructors that possess the knowledge and training appropriate for teaching. Make sure the school is authorized to teach, as they will be responsible for preparing you for the exam to obtain your paragliding license.
It is important both the instructors and the school have their degrees up to date. Your instructor must have the title of Sports Technician Level 1. You can get more information in the paragliding federation of the region where you choose your paragliding school. If you choose Tenerife, you can do it in the Canary Federation of Aerial Sports (FECDA).
How long do I need to get a license to fly?
First of all, we want to remind you that you can get your pilot license in an official paragliding school. Paragliding schools get their recognition from the hand of the Paragliding Federations of each region.
The new learners have to spend approximately 20 hours in theoretical classes and at least another 40 hours of practice flying with an instructor to get a basic license.
During the theoretical classes you will learn about aerodynamics, security, meteorology and flying techniques. The practical teaching consist in at least two tandem flights with your instructor and more than 15 flights on your own, in which you will be assisted by your instructors during the take-off and the landing.
If you have any doubt, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be pleased to help you anytime! Remember that you don’t need a license to fly with us — so we will be waiting for you in the south of Tenerife!
Paragliding flight company located in Costa Adeje, Tenerife, with more than 30 years of experience
Paramotor Licensing Requirements in the United States
Flying paramotors is a fun pass time that thousands of people all over the world enjoy. One question that people often ask online, when trying to get into this aerial sport, is “How can I get a paramotoring license?” However, this can be rather tricky information to find.
In the United States, the FAA classifies paramotors as ultralights. As a result, you do not need a license to fly a paramotor. However, while you do not need a license, it is advisable to take some training so you can fly and navigate safely.
Although training is suggested, you don’t need anything other than your wing, your motor, and your ambition to reach for the skies to fly.
So… Are There Rules?
Even though paramotoring does not require a license to fly, there are still rules you must follow. The FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration, has set out laws that anything flying in the United States must observe.
These laws affect everything that flies, from the lightest paraglider to the heaviest passenger jet. There are legal consequences for failing to comply with the rules and regulations. Not only that, following these laws could mean the difference between life and death.
So, what are these laws, and how do they apply to paramotors? First, we will look at the clasification of paramotors.
As far as the FAA is concerned, paramotors are an “Ultralight.” This is a subset of flying machines that are so small they technically aren’t even aircraft. At least not according to the FAA.
Before you begin to fly, it is essential to confirm that the machine you will be operating is, as far as the FAA sees it, an ultralight. If your machine does not qualify as an ultralight, you may need a license to fly it. So, check these qualifications before you either buy or operate any machine for the first time.
What Qualifies as an Ultralight?
Let’s take a look at the rules.
The qualifications for ultralights are straight forward and easy to understand. They are laid out by the FAA in “Part 103-Ultralight Vehicles: Subsection 103.1”
An Ultralight Must be Intended for Only One Occupant
The reasoning behind this is that those who pilot ultralights know the amount of training they have, and can accurately gauge the risk to themselves when they decide to go flying.
When the FAA was creating the classification of “Ultralight,” they intended for them to be unlicensed. However, the FAA knew that due to the nature of ultralights being unlicensed, there would be pilots who had no training that might attempt to fly with a passenger. Passengers would be quick to assume that an ultralight pilot had the proper training, and would unwittingly put themselves in danger by flying with them.
To avoid this, the FAA decided that it would be better if ultralights were limited to one person only.
Ultralights are to be Used or Intended to be Used for Recreation or Sports Purposes Only
If something is used for something other than recreation or sports, it’s not an ultralight. In other words, ultralights may not be used to fly advertisements or transport merchandise from location to location.
Limiting the use of ultralights to sports or recreation encourages pilots to fly them away from concentrations of population and other aircraft operations.
As with other sports, participants are viewed as being able to take informed, personal risks. They should not, however, take risks that could affect others, not actively participating in the activity.
The FAA believes that pilots are responsible for themselves, but as soon as other people may become actively involved, a license should be required.
Ultralights do not have Any U.S. or Foreign Airworthiness Certificate
Paramotoring, paragliding, and hang gliding (all of which are ultralights) are fun air sports, but none of the equipment is ever checked or given the green light by any government agency in the United States for airworthiness. Instead, the whole industry of ultralights is self-regulated.
There are safety ratings given by interested third parties, but these are for the benefit of the fliers. When it comes to flying ultralights, the government doesn’t care what you do, so long as you don’t put other people in danger. Giving ratings, or certifying paramotors would get the government involved in the sport, which is something that no one wants to see. Not even the government.
Unpowered ultralights should weigh less than 155 pounds. Unpowered ultralights are those without a motor. For example, paragliders and hang gliders.
Powered Ultralights or Ultralights with a motor (meaning paramotors) should have the following attributes:
- Weigh less than 254 pounds (Excluding the pilot, floats, and safety devices meant to be deployed in potentially catastrophic situations)
- Have a fuel capacity no greater than 5 U.S. gallons
- Not be capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight.
- Have a power-off stall speed no higher than 24 knots calibrated airspeed
If these criteria are not met, the machine is considered an aircraft, and one must have a pilots license to fly it.
Having been defined by the FAA, ultralights, and by extension, paramotors have their own set of rules and regulations. These rules and regulations separate them from aircraft in where, how, and when they should be flown.
What are these rules that regulate paramotors?
Laws for Ultralights
There are some rules that are explicitly written for ultralights. These rules all directly apply to paramotors. The laws cover questions such as where one can fly, how one should fly, and when one should fly.
Breaking these laws can put yourself and others in danger. If you are reported to the FAA, you could face various charges, and depending on the severity of the crime, you could do prison time.
So what are these laws? What can you do to keep yourself and others safe when paramotoring?
Airspace: Classifications and Permissions
Airspace is always at the forefront when considering the laws that govern paramotors. When we talk about paramotors and airspace, there’s an essential distinction between your paramotor and a legitimate aircraft.
In the eyes of the law, the military won’t view you as a pilot who is violating airspace, but rather a person who is currently invading their base, should you be encroaching on their airspace.
Airspace is something to be respected. Airports and military bases are both examples of things that will monitor their airspace carefully, so be sure to know where the local airport and military airspace borders are.
There are many different types of airspace. In America, we use the EU model of typing airspace, and divide it into different classifications:
Class A: Only Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flying is permitted. It is the most strictly regulated airspace where pilots must comply with air traffic control instructions at all times. This airspace is mostly for major airlines and business jets. Though paramotors can fly here, it’s only in rare cases, and with explicit permission from air traffic control.
Class B: Class B is the area directly surrounding Class A airspace, and should be treated the same.
Class C: Class C airspace stretches from 19,500 feet to 60,000 feet. Both IFR and Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flying is permitted in this airspace, but pilots require clearance to enter and must comply with air traffic control instructions.
Class D: IFR and VFR flying are permitted. Air traffic control clearance is needed, and compliance with air traffic control instructions is mandatory. There is a speed limit of 250 knots if the aircraft is below 10,000 feet. (Associated with aerodromes)
Class E: IFR and VFR are both in use in Class E airspace. IFR aircraft require air traffic control clearance, and compliance with air traffic control instructions is mandatory for separation purposes. VFR traffic does not require clearance to enter class E airspace but must comply with air traffic control instructions.
Class F: Class F was redacted in 2014 and, and was disolved into either Class E, or Class G.
Class G: Aircraft and other flying machines, may fly when and where they like, but are still subject to a set of simple rules. Although there is no legal requirement to do so, many pilots notify air traffic control of their presence and intentions. Pilots take full responsibility for themselves in Class G airspace.
It is in class G airspace that you want to do your paramotor flying.
Permission to enter airspace can be as easy as contacting air traffic control. However, for higher classes of airspace, it may be necessary to complete a form on a website or talk to a representative of the organization responsible for the airspace in which you wish to fly. It may be a lengthy process that could be denied in the end, but permission is vital to have to fly safely and legally.
If you don’t get the correct permissions to use airspace when consent is needed, you could face serious fines or prison time depending on the severity of your encroachment, and how mad you’ve gotten higher-ups.
Another thing to consider is checking the Notices to Airmen (or NOTAMS), which can detail events that could be happening in a particular area.
A NOTAM is a notice containing information essential to personnel concerned with flight operations but not known far enough in advance to be publicized by other means. It states the abnormal status of a component of the National Airspace System (NAS ) – not the normal status.
Be sure to check for NOTAMs when going flying, even if you’ve been given permissions in the past. Things could change due to unforeseen circumstances.
There’s nothing worse than getting permission to fly in airport airspace, just to be yelled at by air traffic control to “Get out of our airspace!” as they’re “trying to land a plane redirected because of bad weather!”, and that “Your being in the airspace is making the operation very difficult!”, and that “You should have checked the NOTAMs!”
When You Can’t See the Ground
There are rules that paramotors must follow concerning visibility. These rules exist for pretty obvious reasons. You don’t want to collide with anything accidentally and injure yourself or others.
One FAA rule is that Paramotorists should have some form of ground reference at all times while in flight. This means that you should be able to see the ground at any given time during your flight.
Visual contact with the ground could be obstructed in several different ways. One way is that a thick layer of fog could be covering the ground.
Another way that visual contact with the ground could be obstructed is if you are flying above a solid layer of clouds.
Visual contact with the ground at all times is useful for orientation, but also for avoiding obstacles that are hiding just past the cover. In most situations where you cannot see the ground, it is likely a weather condition that should be keeping you from the skies.
- Thick fog can hide trees, poles, and electric wires that could give you a nasty surprise. And clouds the tightly bunched up that you can’t find a hole means potential rain.
- Rain can cause something called “parachutal stall” when paramotoring, and should be avoided at all costs.
Near the Clouds
Speaking of clouds, paramotorists are not legally allowed to fly into or through clouds. This is because it disorients the pilot and reduces ground visibility, and there is the potential for a mid-air collision (it’s happened before).
Follow this chart to determine how close to the clouds you should allow yourself to get:
Certifications for Paramotors: What do they mean?
If we’re being completely honest here, the FAA doesn’t actually care if your paramotor is safe or not. No ultralights have mandatory government testing for products. When I say the world of paramotoring is self maintained, I mean it.
So long as they qualify as an ultralight, paramotors can be as safely or unsafely tricked out as you want.
There are third parties however who rate paramotors on a safety scale, and certify them in a sense. People tend to trust the ratings that these paramotor experts give to these paramotors. However, these ratings are not ‘official’, in the sense that they have no actual standing in the eyes of the government. If you buy a paramotor, it’s best to look online at its rating.
There are festivals which are held to certain standards as well, where only people with a certain rating of paramotor can attend in order to avoid accident or injury. They simply check to be sure the paramotor is either a trusted brand or something just as good/better.
In the world of paramotoring, it won’t be the government regulating the sport, but your peers who want to maintain the good name of paramotoring, using the government as the enforcer of the rules that they all agree to follow.
Sports Pilot License
One way to enhance your paramotoring experience is to spend some time getting a sports pilot’s license.
Sports Pilot Licenses were created by the FAA in order to provide the extra training needed to be trusted with carrying a passenger.
With the Sports Pilot License, you can fly machines that are classified above ultralight, titled “Light Sport Aircraft”.
For instance, you can become a “Tandem Flight Instructor”, meaning that you are permitted to fly paramotors that can seat two people for the purpose of training. These paramotors don’t fit into the Ultralight category but instead, fit into the Light Sport Aircraft Category, which is alright because with a Sports Pilot License, you can legally fly them.
Different rules apply to people who have a Sports Pilot License. They have a greater freedom to fly paramotors that don’t quite fit into the standard ultralight classification.
With the Sports Pilot License comes a greater responsibility though. Getting one doesn’t take as much time as a full pilot’s license, but there is still a significant amount of training and time that goes into receiving a Sports Pilot License.
Keep in mind, this is not a “paramotoring license”, but something that gives a government seal of approval to trainers and others who should be trusted in their skill and ability.
Paramotoring is unlicensed, but in order to keep it that way, we need to be responsible, and govern ourselves as a paramotoring community. Be smart about what you do on a paramotor. You represent the whole community when you take flight.
How Long does Paramotoring take to Learn?
Paramotoring school lasts only about 1-2 weeks, but by the end of it, you should be able to:
- Maintain a wing,
- Maintain a motor,
- Control the wing on the ground,
- and go for a short flight.
Any additional training is a reaffirmation of these skills.
Is there an Age Limit for Paramotoring?
While there is not an official age limit to paramotoring, most piloting schools will not take on any students younger than 14 years old. Similarly, there is no upper age limit either.
So there you have it. You do not need a license to pilot a paramotor in the United States because the FAA classes them as ultralights and not aircraft.
This technical distinction is important as it regulates in which classes of airspace you can fly, in what conditions, and at what times.
While you do not need a license, there are rules and regulations that govern flying a paramotor. Breaking these rules, or the laws governing airspace can see you fined, prosecuted, or even jailed.
Taking some voluntary training will help to keep you, other people in the air, and other people on the ground, safe.
Do you need a license to fly a paraglider?
The short answer is no for certain air sports. You do not need a pilot license to fly a paraglider. However, the paraglider itself does require certification under FAA’s FAR part 103, and pilots are required to follow the guidelines set by the United States Paragliding Association (USPHA) including seeking certification.
The USPHA sets standards for paragliding and provides training resources for pilots. To become certified, pilots must complete an approved training program and pass a proficiency exam. The USPHA also offers ratings for paragliders, which indicate the pilot’s level of experience and expertise.
So, while you do not need a license to fly a glider, it is still important to ensure that you are properly certified and familiar with the safety guidelines set by the USPHA, the US governing body for regulations.
What is the difference between a license and a certificate?
A license and a certificate are both types of credentials that allow you to pilot an aircraft. However, there are some key differences between the two
A license is authorization from the government that allows you to fly a certain type of aircraft. It is issued by the FAA after you pass a written test and a flight test.
A certificate, on the other hand, is an endorsement from an aviation organization, like a club or association, that allows you to fly a certain type of ultralights. Certificates are usually awarded after you have completed training with an approved aviation organization.
There is no such thing as a certified pilot’s license. You are either a certified pilot, or a licensed pilot.
What is FAR part 103?
FAR part 103 is part of the FAA code. This section of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) regulates the ultralight category of flying paramotors, paragliders, and paragliders.
To fly under 103, your ultralight must meet certain certification and rating requirements. These requirements are designed to ensure your safety while flying.
If you’re not familiar with the certification and rating process, don’t worry – we’ll go over it in detail below. But first, let’s take a look at what 103 covers.
FAR part 103 specifies the following requirements for ultralight vehicles:
- – The maximum weight of the vehicle must be less than 254 pounds.
- – The top speed of the vehicle must be 55 knots (63 mph).
- – The vehicle must be flown with a single passenger.
- – The pilot must have a minimum of 20 hours of flight time.
- – The pilot must have a certification from a recognized aviation organization (USHPA or USPPA).
To meet certification requirements, your paramotor, paraglider, or powered paragliders must pass a series of tests conducted by an aviation organization. These tests measure factors such as stability, control, and performance.
If your aircraft passes these tests, it will receive a certification from the aviation organization. This certification is your guarantee that the ultralight meets the FAA safety standards.
What is USHPA?
The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) is the national governing body for hang gliders and paragliding in the United States. USHPA sets safety standards for the sport and provides training and certification programs.
A rating is a certification that indicates your level of proficiency as a pilot. There are four ratings: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. To progress to the next level, you must pass a proficiency check with an examiner. You must have an advanced rating or higher to compete in USHPA competitions.
Why is USHPA important?
Certification through USHPA is important for flyers looking to participate in the sport safely. USHPA is responsible for setting safety standards, issuing ratings, and licensing pilots. USHPA allows flyers to participate in organized events and fly with a certified instructor.
USHPA is also important because it underwrites the insurance that allows most pilots to fly at certain designated flying sites. Without USHPA’s backing, these sites would be off-limits and people using these sites would be subject to trespassing punishable by fines or jail.
This is a self-regulated body with local clubs and chapters to aid in the advancement of the sport of foot launch paramotor pilots.
Do you need a license to fly a paramotor?
Paramotor flying is a group-regulated sport, so you are not required by law to be a licensed pilot. However, proper training is required to safely fly and navigate ever more crowded and sensitive airspace.
However, in some countries, such as the United States, you do need a certification from a recognized aviation organization affiliated with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a paramotor pilot to fly.
The PPL or private pilot license is not specifically for paramotors; it is also used for other types of a small planes in heavier weight classes.
What is the USPPA?
The United States Powered Paragliding Association (USPPA) is the governing body for “paramotoring” in the United States.
The USPPA was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Palm Springs, California. It is a non-profit organization that oversees paramotor instruction, safety, and competition. The USPPA has three levels of certification: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. To achieve certification, pilots must pass a written test and fly with an instructor.
The USPPA is an important organization for paramotor pilots. It promotes safe flying and provides instruction and certification. The USPPA also hosts competitions, which allow pilots to test their skills and compete against others.
If you are interested in learning to fly a paramotor, the USPPA is a good place to start. Its website provides information on instruction, certification, and competitions. The USPPA is also a great resource for finding local clubs and flying events.
USPPA is a self-regulated body with local clubs and chapters to aid in the advancement of foot-launched powered paramotors and paramotor flight.
Why is the USPPA important?
The USPPA is the largest and most respected certification and rating organization for powered paragliders in the United States. It is responsible for setting safety standards and providing training and certification to pilots. The USPPA has a strong public record, and its certification program is recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
USPPA is important because it underwrites the insurance that allows paramotor flying by certified pilots – taking off, flying, and landing out. Without USPPA’s backing, access to private land to launch and land would be difficult, if not law-breaking, and people using these sites without permission potentially could be subject to trespassing punishable by fines or jail.
What is a private license?
A private license, or PPL, allows a person to fly a plane without remuneration. To obtain a PPL, one must pass a written test and complete a flight review. The holder of a PPL is allowed to fly any single-engine airplane during the day within certain limitations. A PPL does not allow the holder to fly commercially. A PPL is a prerequisite for obtaining a commercial license.
The PPL is not specifically for paramotors; it is also used for other types of a small planes in heavier weight classes. However, having a PPL is a good thing. Proper training under the PPL program ensures you understand airspace regulations, airspace boundaries, rules, equipment, plane safety, dangerous situations, visual flight rules, congested areas, medical certificate, that you have proper paramotoring experience. It also includes training on topics such as meteorology and aeronautical navigation.
To obtain a pilot’s license, one must be at least 17 years old and have at least 50 hours of flight time. Ten of those hours must be in a plane completed with instruction. The written test covers areas such as aerodynamics, weather, navigation, and aircraft systems. It is time-consuming to obtain this rating, but it aligns with the law promulgated by the FAA.
Privileges granted by a PPL are limited to daytime flying within certain distances from an airport. The holder of a PPL may not fly in bad weather or take passengers for compensation. A PPL is also not valid for flying in airspace where air traffic control is required.
A PPL is valid for two years after it is issued. To keep your rating current, the holder must complete a flight review every two years.
What about tandem flights?
Tandem pilots are certified and rated in the same way as solo pilots. However, a tandem flight instructor is required to take additional training and again a special rating. This is because while flying tandem, the pilot must not only fly the aircraft but also act as a guide for the passenger.
Tandem flights are a great way to experience the thrill of flight for first-time passengers. They can also be a fun way to share an adventure with a friend or loved one. Tandem flights can be performed in both paragliders and paramotors, but due to the extra weight of the passenger, paramotoring is generally considered to be safer.
Insurance for tandem flights is slightly different from standard aviation insurance. Most tandem pilots carry liability insurance, which covers any damage or injury that may be caused to the passenger. This is important, as passengers often do not have their insurance.
Can I fly anywhere?
In the United States, air space is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Several regulations apply to air space, including restrictions on flying in certain areas and requirements for obtaining authorization to fly in specific areas.
One of the most well-known air space regulations is the “no-fly zone.” These are areas where flying is either prohibited or restricted for security reasons. The FAA maintains a list of no-fly zones on its website.
Another important regulation governing air space is the requirement for pilots to obtain authorization before flying in certain areas. This authorization is known as a flight plan, and it must be filed with the FAA before takeoff. Pilots must also comply with all air traffic control (ATC) instructions while flying.
Violating air space regulations can result in civil penalties or criminal charges. It is important to familiarize yourself with the regulations before flying to avoid any potential problems.
What is APPi?
The Association of Paragliding Pilots and Instructors (APPi) is a global paragliding organization that provides training and resources for glider pilots and instructors. Founded in 2001, APPi has more than 5,000 members from over 60 countries. Most countries recognize its certified pilot program, including the U.S.
APPi offers a variety of resources to its members, including training materials, safety information, and networking opportunities. The organization also promotes gliding as a safe and environmentally-friendly form of aviation.
APPi maintains a rigorous certification process for its members, which ensures that glider pilots are properly trained and equipped to fly safely. To become certified by APPi, pilots must complete an approved training program and pass an assessment test.
Where can I find a school?
If you’re looking for a training school, the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) is a good place to start. All USHPA-sanctioned schools are required to meet rigorous training standards, so you can be sure that you’re receiving quality instruction.
When choosing a school, make sure to ask questions about the curriculum and instructors. You should also visit the school to get a feel for the atmosphere. It’s important to find a school that you feel comfortable with, as you’ll be spending a lot of time there. The training process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, to several years, depending on your desired level of experience.
Many pilots believe it’s better to learn how to fly a glider, before learning how to fly paramotors. You will need ground handling skills, kiting skills, wing handling skills, landing skills, wind speed, as well as an understanding of how to find the best flying conditions.
About the author.
Damien Mitchell is a USHPA Advanced Instructor, and APPi Trained Instructor. He has over 10,000 flights and has been instructing paragliders for 15-years. He has been flying for almost 25-years. He is originally from Utah.