Paragliding or paramotoring
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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!
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.
3 Chemin de la Chave – 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle
07 62 180 360
Paramotor vs Paragliding: Which One is Safer?
So, are you a little apprehensive about taking on flying? Good! Fear is what keeps us safe. While paramotoring or paragliding, the attitude and preparation of the pilot can make all the difference when it comes to safety.
So which is safer, paramotors or paragliding? Both Paramotoring and Paragliding are sports that statistically have about the same fatality rate as driving a regular car on a highway. Paramotorists can experience more non-life-threatening injuries due to the propeller, but the statistics do say that they are about the same in terms of deaths.
Paramotors just have a propeller on the back to help you get more lift whenever you would like. When it comes to safety this propeller you have back there can be a help but it can also be a problem. Today we will take a look at the biggest causes of accidents with paramotors and paragliders, compare the different safety issues, and talk about what you can do about them.
Crashes and Crash Landings
Both paramotors and paragliders can be flown safely, but safety is completely up to the pilot. Most injuries come from pilot error.
Remember through all of this that it is most important to never get complacent. Most accidents in these sports come from people getting distracted, too comfortable in not following all procedures, or in trying to show off.
Crashes are one of the biggest problems with paramotors and paragliders. While you are flying one of these, you are usually moving in the 20 to 30 mph range.
This is enough speed to kill you or cause a serious injury if you hit the ground or another structure. There are radio towers, trees, power lines, and anything else you can imagine that would be close to the ground.
Power lines are also especially dangerous because of their high voltage. Big, high-tension power lines don’t run at the same 120 volts that the electricity from your wall does. No, these lines are powered at the hundreds of kilovolts.
At that voltage, the lines from the wing to your harness can conduct the electricity from the lines and electrocute you.
While paragliders and paramotors usually don’t run faster than 30 or 40 mph, they definitely could if you were to enter some kind of spiral. This can come if your wing collapses. If you were to fall at this higher speed, the results would be even worse.
In another type of crash, the pilot doesn’t lose their lift, but they are coming down on terrain that is not good for landing.
Types of terrain that are especially dangerous for these types of aircraft include lakes, oceans, rivers, forests, and mountainsides.
These are all horrible places to land a paraglider or paramotor. When a pilot is coming up on a hazard like this, they usually haven’t had a wing collapse, and they still have their lift. They are just coming down because they are losing their lift slowly. But they need to get out fast.
As you can imagine, most of these accidents result from flying too close to the ground. Flying close to the ground is what puts these objects in your path. It also means you have less time to recover from a wing collapse.
So to be safe, what a smart pilot would do is never fly close to the ground. They would just completely avoid it, and would always give themselves extra space to react to things like a wing collapse or a loss of lift that brings them down onto an area that is not suitable for landing.
Since paramotors do have an actual motor, they may have a small advantage when it comes to getting out a sticky situation like this. They can just fly up higher into the air.
On the other hand, if a paraglider finds itself coming down to the ground too fast, or about to collide with a structure, or coming down onto a forest, or lake, or any other dangerous place to land, they won’t be able to generate more lift unless the wind happens to be in their favor.
They can’t just pull more lift out of nowhere as a paramotor can.
But the Propeller!
This propeller that paramotors have can be a cause of more injuries, though. Propellers can cut off fingers or hands, break bones, catch your hair or clothing and suck you in, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. They are to be respected and not treated lightly.
While propellers don’t cause as many deaths as the crashes do, they do cause life-changing injuries. These are some ways that you can keep yourself safe while flying with a propeller:
- Don’t have long hair. If you do, be sure it is tucked away somewhere safe so that there is no chance of it being caught by the propeller.
- Don’t wear long clothes, like scarfs. There are better ways to keep yourself warm on cold days. Don’t wear things that dangle. Wear a cap instead of a scarf. If your coat has a scruncher, take it out.
- Don’t start the motor unless it is on your back, ready to go. What sometimes happens to pilots is that the engine’s throttle gets stuck open. Then, if they start the engine, it roars to life at full rpm’s. The motor can move significantly and flop over if this happens, landing on the pilot or on someone else, and cutting or injuring them.
- Don’t start the motor without making sure no one is around you. After looking around to be sure, you should also yell something to let people know you are starting your motor. “Clear Prop” is a common thing people yell.
- Wear a helmet. Although the paramotor gear isn’t the heaviest stuff in the world, it really can make a difference if you trip or fall. It is enough to bring you down quickly and in an uncontrolled way. You don’t want to fall on your head, at least not without protection, so wear a helmet.
Also, know that a paramotor doesn’t need a propeller to stay aloft in the air. As already mentioned, paragliders and paramotors are basically the same thing.
A paramotor just has an engine and propeller strapped to their back. If anything happens to the motor, the pilot can just float and come to a safe place to land like a normal paraglider pilot would do.
Things You Can Do to Increase Safety
Like I mentioned in the beginning, most of the unsafe flights come from pilot error. This means that you need some good strategies to outsmart your own worst enemy: you.
Most people do not like to admit when they are wrong, and it is human nature to try and shift the blame for an accident or a near miss to someone else, or to the weather, or to their equipment. The truth is my friend, that all of this blame-shifting does not make our sport any safer.
You are responsible for knowing the weather. You are responsible for inspecting your equipment and getting it checked by a professional. You are 100% responsible for the operation of your own aircraft. I mean, if you aren’t, then who is?
In general, never be too irritated, hungry, or in a hurry when flying. Take your time, be relaxed, and follow a routine. With a good routine to follow, you will make fewer errors and it will be harder to forget the small important things.
Also, keep in mind that these are some quick suggestions. You should think critically about your flights and evaluate what needs to be done to make them safer.
Yes, it’s expensive, but yes you want to be doing this right. Get some proper and qualified training to start off your flying career. You won’t regret it.
It is a good idea to visually inspect your equipment before each flight. Normal use will eventually wear down the different parts of your equipment.
UV rays especially will wear down the wing and any fabric. Therefore, flying at noon will wear out a wing faster than flying in the morning or in the evening.
What you are looking for in this inspection is any fraying or signs of wear and tear. You will want to inspect the harness, straps, wing, propeller, lines, and pretty much everything. Make sure everything looks and feels right, tight, and solid.
In addition to doing a visual check before each flight, you should get your wing professionally inspected every year or after every 100 hours of flight time, whichever comes sooner. Also, if your wing is not performing as it used to, that is also a sign that it is definitely time to get it inspected.
In this check, they will be able to tell exactly how much the fabric of your wing has broken down due to UV rays. They will be able to tell you if the wing needs repairs or if it is safe to keep using.
Don’t Fly Close to the Ground
Most problems that pilots encounter come from flying close to the ground. There are power lines, radio towers, trees, fences, and hills that can come up very quickly. If it must be done, flying this close to the ground requires extra attention to your surroundings.
Even with the most attentive pilot, some things just can’t be seen, and many pilots have hit structures or power lines out of the blue. This is one reason that you should never fly close to the ground if at all possible.
The other main reason is that flying higher in the air gives you more time to respond in a crisis. If you are doing everything right, like getting your wing inspected, not flying in too much wind, flying in good conditions, etc., then normally you will not have any problems.
However, there are some freak accidents that do happen to pilots who are doing everything right.
In these cases, that extra time to react is very precious. Most modern wings will correct themselves with enough time. If things start to look dire and it appears that that is not working out, you will also then have time to deploy your backup chute.
Having more altitude and therefore more time to react is invaluable in a situation like this! If you are only a few hundred feet off the ground, then your time to deploy a chute or fix your wing is very, very limited.
This is one of the main, if not the main, cause of problems for pilots. When you are flying it is so easy to just take in the view that you can become distracted and not notice that power line, or hill, or other person flying near you.
One main cause of distraction is cameras and grabbing footage of your flights. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but don’t let it take your attention.
You should probably just set it and forget it, and enjoy the footage later. Don’t worry too much about adjusting your cameras or phone.
Don’t Try And Show Off
Distraction is especially strong if you are trying to show off. If your family is coming to see you for the first time, if other pilots are doing cool tricks, or if you are starting to get bored with what you have achieved so far, you are possibly in a position of distraction and increased risk-taking.
Keep in mind also that there is a real risk of blacking out while trying to turn too sharp or do some kind of trick. If you black out, you may not come back before hitting the ground.
Because of this risk, it is usually better to just not try any sort of maneuvers that will put a lot of G force on your body. You might wake up surprised at how easy it was to black out. Or, you might wake up dead.
Know the Weather
You should always check the weather and respect the weather limits of your equipment. Our gliders are not made to withstand high wind. Definitely, don’t fly just because “everyone else is doing it.”
Every time you fly you will have to make a judgment, and don’t let anyone else’s lack of preparation or lack of judgment change the judgment you have made based on solid experience, preparation, and checking the winds and weather.
Know How the Weather Works
You should have gotten some basic understanding of meteorology in your training, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a deeper understanding, would it?
It is always a good idea to continue to teach yourself. This keeps you humble, keeps your mind sharp and safety focused, and actually makes you a more capable pilot.
Especially in the mountains, the weather works differently. If you are flying near mountains, it is never a bad idea to learn more about mountain meteorology and the microclimates that can exist up there.
Flying is as Safe as You Make it
Like I mentioned in the beginning, paramotoring and paragliding are both about as safe as driving a car. This means that there is some risk in flying, but there is much that you can do to minimize that risk.
Always be vigilant. Always try one extra thing to increase your safety every time you fly. This will keep you from becoming more complacent over time and letting things slip one by one. Thanks for reading and have fun being safe in the sky!
Are paragliders/paramotors safer than skydiving? While they are hard to measure, skydiving is considered safer because it is more regulated and perceived as more extreme, and therefore people can tend to be more cautious about following the procedures correctly.
How much does paramotor or paraglider training cost? Paramotor or paraglider training is usually offered in the one to two thousand dollar range for the full training. The price varies based on location and on instruction quality, one on one lessons will be more expensive than if you are in a class of two or three people.
I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.
Winter is usually a time to hunker down inside, but in Nashville when the winters are mild, there’s no need! That makes Nashville a premier spot for outdoor wintertime dates. What should you do.
The summer months in Nashville can get quite sweltering, but this city doesn’t shut down. Quite the contrary, there’s plenty to do if you’re ready to get outside! What are some great outdoor.
We all love the outdoors! Each one of us at Outdoor Troop is an outdoor enthusiast in one area or another. From rappelling to camping, from cabins to paramotor, we have the outdoors covered!
Outdoor Troop is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Outdoor Troop also participates in affiliate programs with Bluehost, Clickbank, CJ, ShareASale, and other sites. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.
How to throw: Deploying a reserve parachute
If you have to throw your reserve parachute while flying then you want things to go without a hitch. Matt Warren asked some expert pilots for their advice on reserve deployment when paragliding, paramotoring and hang gliding
“First, you must be prepared to throw it – and early,” says Tom de Dorlodot, a Red Bull X-Alps veteran and professional pilot. “Many people leave it too late and break their back. In fact, when all goes to shit, it should be your first option.”
He adds: “If you’ve already tried it out on an SIV, you’ll understand how it works and be more prepared for that. Of course, sometimes, you’ll be in a right mess, throw your reserve, and all the twists in your glider will come out. That’s annoying, but at least you’ll be safe.”
You also need to think about how you’ll throw it – and this can start on the ground, not just in your pre-flight checks, but in understanding and being familiar with your harness.
“First, you need to know exactly where your handle is. Check it’s in place, on the right side for you – perhaps you’re using someone else’s harness, or it’s just been repacked and the handle’s been put on the wrong side – and that the pins are in: the handle can often drop out on the way to take-off. In the air, practise reaching for it. Know how to find the handle without thinking about it.
“How you throw it is also very important. You have to pop the pins, pull the reserve out strongly, look at what the glider is doing and then throw it hard away from your wing. If you’re in an auto-rotation, for example, don’t throw it in front of the glider or your reserve will get caught in the lines. You need to throw it behind the glider.
“And remember it’s not just a case of throwing your reserve and that’s it. You also need to get your paraglider in so it doesn’t fight against your rescue. Generally, I take one of the brakes, wrap the line around my hand and pull it all the way in until I can grab the wing tip. I then bunch the glider up between my legs. This also helps when you land.
“I was flying acro once when it all went wrong and I threw my round reserve. I came down really fast into a huge cattle trough, but the paraglider, which was stuffed between my legs, acted like another airbag.”
A round parachute, the Donut by AirDesign. Photo: AirDesign
Randi Eriksen has advice on what to do if you do end up in a horrible mess. “It depends on the circumstances. Certainly don’t take too long trying to fix the problem – depending on your height, of course – before throwing your rescue. In terms of getting the paraglider in after deployment, we have tried different methods. Certainly the longer you wait after deployment, the harder it is to get the glider in, so grab in as much of your glider as possible as soon as possible after throwing your reserve.
“What you grab depends on what you can reach. We have tried being asymmetrical and pulling in one wing tip, which worked really well one time, but was a catastrophe the next.
“We then tried only the brake lines, pulled in symmetrically. This also worked one time and was very messy the next. It really does depend on what is happening.
“Whatever you do, though, try and bring the paraglider into you as tightly as possible. Paragliders can really interfere with your reserve if you leave them flying.”
Chris White: “When deploying a reserve, the key thing to remember is that the parachute comes out of the harness in the opposite way to which it went in.
“In other words, if the reserve sits sideways on a shelf beneath the seat, then you must pull it out sideways. In this situation, if you pop the pins and then pull it up towards your chin, as if you were doing a bicep curl, then you’re trying to pull it out at 90 degrees from the angle it went in.
“The other thing is to swing it – and then let it go. A lot of people forget that.”
Tom: “You should also always fly with a hook knife [within easy reach]. Not many people do, but it means you can cut a paraglider line if it’s interfering with your reserve, or even cut away your whole paraglider.
“Even if everything works perfectly, though, you’ll find that you come down faster than you think on a reserve – especially if you pick a really light one. You can really easily break your legs.
“The rescue is one protection, the back protection is another, but you should also be ready to do a good parachute landing fall (PLF) – that’s another protection. Always land on your legs and be prepared to roll. I’ve broken my back, and you really don’t want to do that.”
Tom adds that you also need to think about what happens after you land. “Perhaps you’re in a tree or you’ve broken a leg. How do people find you? You can’t always rely on your phone. And it’s often very dangerous to try and get out of the tree.
“The best option is to have a device that can share your location without a phone signal. A tracking device, something like an inReach from Garmin, is essential. I had an accident when I was flying around the Adriatic with Paul Guschlbauer. I’d landed badly in a tree, pushed the button and the helicopter was there in just 16 minutes.”
In this deliberate SIV deployment the pulled-down apex round reserve has deployed after four seconds. The main wing stops flying and the pilot starts to gather it in – this allows the parachute to do its job without the main wing interfering. There is some penduluming apparent as the pilot descends and splashes down. Photos: Andy Busslinger
THROWING A PARAMOTOR RESERVE
Video: Alex Ledger explains what you need to do
Cross Country’s paramotoring columnist Jeff Goin on reserves and powered paragliding
How does flying a paramotor affect your reserve choice?
Two things come to mind: first, being lightweight is more important since motors are already heavy and pilots launch more frequently in the calm of morning or evening with no downhill to help. Second, most motor pilots fly in benign conditions, where reserve deployment is less likely. Consequently, you most likely fly with a small, lightweight ‘meat-saver’ for preserving life not limb.
How to deploy it?
A motor pilot’s mantra for reserve deployment is ‘Kill, Look, Pull, Clear, Throw.’ The primary complication is keeping the reserve out of the prop, thus the ‘Kill’ part – hit the kill-switch and turn off the engine. ‘Clear’ is shorthand for spotting the clear air that assures the best deployment, that is outwards and away from any fouling risks, namely the paraglider and motor. Avoiding throttle entanglement is another concern if you have to use that hand.
How do you pick a reserve?
Descent rate. Opening speed is critical, too, but they seem to all advertise quick opening times. Steerables seem like a great idea for those who fly over inhospitable landing options, but they have tradeoffs. It’s a personal choice that depends mostly on your planned activities. I favour front mounts as they’re less likely to deploy accidentally – a weirdly common phenomenon on motors, especially on side mounts.
What do you fly with?
The easily-mounted, lightweight Way Richly 24. I’m scrawny but the descent rate with the motor will still be 6m/s – equivalent to jumping from two metres. I’d be lucky to avoid breaking something.
Have you ever thrown while paramotoring?
No, thankfully. But weather surprises us, wings surprise us, friends surprise us. There’s good reason to have a little reserve up your sleeve.
THROWING A HANG GLIDER RESERVE
Video: C2Sky at a hang gliding reserve re-pack day
British team pilot Gordon Rigg explains reserve parachutes from a hang glider pilot’s point of view
“In hang gliding we might go our whole career without ever meeting anyone who has thrown their reserve. But that doesn’t make a reserve less important – if you do need one, there’s little chance that anything else is going to save you. The main risks are the sort of extreme turbulence that you might encounter very, very rarely, or a mid-air collision.
“Hang gliding chutes are designed with a long bridle that should be long enough to clear the wingtip of the glider – so that means a longer bridle for a rigid wing compared to a standard flexwing one.
“Now, parachutes are generally mounted on the pilot’s side – it’s the pilot’s choice if it is on the left or the right. Some pilots, particularly those flying aerobatics or who want to be a bit heavier on their wing fly with one on each side.
“We have regular debates over chute size, mainly because we always carry it but seldom use it. Very small chutes were fashionable in the 1980s but that’s now regarded as a bad idea. Usually, we use similarly-sized chutes to paragliders, sized for the pilot’s weight. On flexwings, the glider weight is usually disregarded – but many rigid wing pilots choose a larger chute to include the glider weight. It’s the individual’s decision.
Video: Flyhighadventure captured this reserve deployment at an air show
“The most important thing for us is a quick deployment. If something goes badly wrong and the chute isn’t thrown straight away, there is a good chance the wreckage will start to spin violently. Then there can be so much G that a deployment could be very difficult or impossible. After deployment, that spin can still occur, or continue – but with reduced violence. For that reason, many pilots choose to have a swivel sewn into the bridle to try and prevent the lines winding up and gradually closing the chute.
“The chute is not normally rated for a full-speed deployment as that would add a lot of weight to its construction. What we have is something with a ‘good chance’ of structural integrity in a freefall situation, but we do wonder about full-speed deployment – with the glider already going 140km/h plus. Some pilots have a Z sewn-section in the bridle designed to minimise the deployment shock, known as a screamer.
“I deployed my chute once. There was a dust devil and at 180m the glider suddenly stood up vertical, tail slid and tumbled. I threw the chute well, it opened in a few seconds and I landed gently. The glider was only slightly bent, but my harness was significantly damaged.
“In fact, I was able to launch again half an hour later on a different glider and harness and flew to goal – I didn’t even slip one place in the competition ranking!”
You might also like
How to look after your reserve parachute
Don’t just stick a reserve parachute in your harness and forget about it. You need to care for it, regularly repack it – and understand it
How to choose a reserve parachute for paragliding
Throw your reserve parachute and suddenly it’s the most important bit of kit you own. We asked some experts for their tips on how to choose a rescue
Arizona Flying Circus is 20 in 2023
The fly-in is one of the biggest powered paragliding events in the US calendar and attracts hundreds of pilots each February