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You need to register your drone with the FAA before you fly!

Hobby pilots: Yes, if your drone weighs 0.55 lbs or more, you will need to register it with the FAA before you fly!

Making money? If you will be compensated for your flight, like selling your drone photos or putting videos on YouTube with monetization turned on, it does not matter what size or type of drone you fly, you must register your drone under the Part 107 commercial drone system.

Bottom line, you you probably need to register your drone with the FAA before you fly in the United States. (For other countries, check here.)

Why trust Drone Rush?

I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.

Do I need a license to fly my drone?

Yes, you need a drone license before you fly.

  • Hobby pilots require the new TRUST certificate
  • Commercial pilots require the Part 107 certificate

For most countries, your need for a drone license depends on why you are flying. In the United States, if you will be paid to fly, or you will be otherwise compensated for any aspect of the flight, including selling your drone photos, or uploading your drone videos to YouTube with the Monetization tool turned on, you fall under the Part 107 regulations. You will need a drone license, we call it the Part 107 Certificate.

Otherwise, if you are legitimately flying for fun, the TRUST certification was launched in 2021, and is now required by all pilots.

After April 2021, all pilots that desire to fly at night, or to fly over top of people, will also require Part 107 certification.

Register your drone FAA

What do I do after I register my drone?

The process is fairly easy, you must be 13 or over and it will cost $5. From there, there are strict rules you will need to follow in the air, please read through and check them all out. I know some of them can be a hassle, depending on where you plan to fly, but the more we break the rules, the stricter they will become in the future.

Help us all enjoy drones for years to come by enjoying them responsibly today.

Important new information

The FAA requires all hobby pilots to acquire authorization before they can fly in controlled airspace. That means that if you are within a few miles of an airport, chances are you cannot just go outside and fly. You will need to consult an app like Airmap or the FAA’s own B4UFly to figure out your airspace requirements.

FAA love drone safety

Things to know before you fly

  • You must register your drone with the FAA before you fly
  • You must affix your drone registration number to your craft
  • The FAA requires you to pass a test before you fly your drone
  • You must acquire your Part 107 certificate if you are to receive any compensation for your flight
  • You must follow all of the FAA’s airspace rules if you are flying outdoors
  • Hobby flights have different requirements from commercial flights
  • In the eye’s of the FAA, drones are aircraft. Period.
  • You need to acquire authorization to fly in controlled airspace
  • Almost all drones over 249 grams will need a Remote ID broadcast starting April 21, 2021

Why do I need to register?

The FAA has taken a keen interest in anything that takes to the sky, obviously, and particularly those things that have the ability to cause harm to any other aircraft or to people and property below. Also things that can be used to violate one’s privacy or national security by way of taking inappropriate photos or videos from the air. In short, you may have the most innocent of intentions with your new toy, but flying in the wrong place at the wrong time can happen in an instant.

The basic FAA registration includes guidelines to help prevent an incident with your drone.

In addition to providing basic guidelines for safety, let’s be honest, FAA registration is also for accountability. It can be difficult to track down the pilot of a drone, especially if it is laying in a broken pile in the grass outside The Whitehouse – a definite no-fly zone. The FAA is hoping to never have to hunt you down, but I hope you understand that your FAA registration number is just like the license plate on your car. Like it or not, accountability is important.

How do I register?

Luckily enough, the FAA has made is super easy to register to fly your drone. Visit their website, be at least 13 years of age, have a valid credit card and in a few minutes you’ll have what you need to fly legally in the United States.

FAA drone zone top

Perfect, now I want to fly for work!

Hold on there, I am sorry to say, you cannot just fly your drone for pay. This one may be a sore spot for many, but the fact is, you need a special extra license to fly for pay. Again, you can drive your car with your normal driver’s license, but you need a special license to drive for hire, same idea.

For drones, it is called the Remote Pilot certificate with a sUAS rating, known commonly as the Part 107. It’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.

Interdrone Part 107 sign

Now go, fly safe

I hope this has helped, at least a little, but, basically, yes, you’re going to need to register your drone with the FAA to fly outside, in U.S. airspace.

Looking for more info on drone laws?
Meeting with DJI at CES 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but only if you register it and get your Part 107 license first. According to the FAA, it does not matter how light your drone is, if you will be compensated for the flight, it is a Part 107 operation, requiring you to register before you fly.

Yes, absolutely. According to the FAA, any self-propelled machine that is not touching the ground is operating in the national airspace. Just like when you ride your bicycle on the street, you didn’t have to register your bike, but you have to follow the rules of the road – the big difference here is that if you cause an accident with your bike, that car is going to hurt you, but if you cause a mid-air collision with your drone, you may cause harm to many other people. That is an unacceptable risk.

There are apps that you can use to identify airspace limitations, but you can also hit up our full airspace map here on the site. As a simple rule, if you live within several miles of any airstrip, or in a frequent flight path, you’re probably going to need authorization.

Compliance with the upcoming Remote ID rules will require the registration of some drones that previously did not need to be registered. Make no mistake, Remote ID is a restrictive change for drone pilots; the FAA is not trying to make it hard for hobby pilots to take to the sky, but, just like there are rules and consequences for actions with vehicles on the road, it has been decided that drones in the sky require similar oversight.

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.

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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.

If Unpowered:

Unpowered ultralights should weigh less than 155 pounds. Unpowered ultralights are those without a motor. For example, paragliders and hang gliders.

If Powered:

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!”

Don’t Fly:

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.

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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.

Additional Questions

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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.

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.

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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.


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.

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…


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.

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.




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