Can You Paraglide Anywhere? Here’s 4 Things to Look Out For!

Paragliding is one of the most accessible forms of human flight. Paraglider’s are easy to transport, a paragliding wing and harness can pack up into a small bundle which can be carried with ease. Hang Gliders are heavy and take more effort to transport to those remote launch sites. Skydiving requires a plane and launching from extreme heights, so it’s far easier to find somewhere to paraglide than the alternative options.

So can you paraglide anywhere? While paragliding can be done in many accessible locations, you can’t paraglide anywhere. There are some places where you are not permitted to paraglide for your safety, the safety of others or for the privacy of landowners.

Hazards Which You Can’t Paraglide Close To

Paragliding in suburban, built-up areas presents hazards where paragliding must be done from a safe distance. Power lines, roads, tall trees, schools, shopping centres and large car parks must be avoided. Some countries have restrictions in place which don’t allow you to paraglide within a certain distance of these hazards. If your country doesn’t have these restrictions, it’s still worthwhile to be cautious and paraglide from a safe distance.

paragliding restrictions

You Can’t Paraglide Over No Fly Zones

Many areas of government owned land are no fly zones. These include military bases, police land, and the homes of distinguished government representatives. Paragliding over and landing in these areas is not allowed due to privacy reasons, and restrictions on public access.

You also can’t paraglide over or land on designated ‘no fly’ zones. These are usually located close to popular paragliding launch and landing zones. These are usually from home/landowners who seek privacy or have had negative experiences with pilots causing damage to their property. These locations can often be seen on or by talking to a local paragliding club or pilots in the area. Take these into account when planning your flight and look for alternative close-by bombout areas in the event you need to land unexpectedly.

It’s important to take the approach that landowners who haven’t designated their property as a no-fly zone still may not be entirely happy about paragliders flying close over or landing on their property. Don’t fly so close that you compromise their privacy. If you do need to unexpectedly land on private property, quickly pack up your paraglider, ensure you have all your belongings and leave the property at the closest exit.

You Can’t Paraglide in Flight Paths

You can’t paraglide at high altitude in commercial plane flight paths. The reasons for this are fairly self-explanatory – no one wants to collide with a plane! Most paragliding pilots won’t be at risk of flying in these high-up restricted areas, however with excellent thermalling conditions and a bit of bravery, it is possible for an experienced paraglider to reach sufficient heights.

There may be restrictions within a certain radius of airports, as planes will be flying at lower altitude when taking off and landing.

These restrictions differ from country to country, it’s best to consult your local paragliding organisation.

paragliding restrictions

You Can’t Paraglide If You Can’t Launch

Another consideration when choosing where you can paraglide is the opportunities available to obtain lift. Lift is critical for launching and is not able to be achieved anywhere. Lift can be achieved in two ways, the easiest is from wind filling the wing with air. This method enables you to launch a paraglider without running, almost anywhere where wind and a lack of hazardous obstacles are present.

The second place you can obtain lift and paraglide is from a side of a steep hill or cliff. This involves the pilot running up to the ledge and obtaining lift from thermals.

You’ll need wind or thermal activity to launch your paraglider.


Ultimately you can paraglide in many places. It’s a highly accessible form of flight and a fun hobby which can be undertaken in many different places. There’s not too many places where you can’t paraglide, these main areas include flight paths, close proximity to airports, schools, roads, high trees and no-fly zones.

It’s recommended that you check the legalities in your country and the rules and recommendations in your local region, as these can differ greatly. Here are links to some of the national organisations:

  • The USHPA in the United States in Australia
  • The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association in the United Kingdom

Also please remember to obey the rules and not paraglide in areas which are off-limits. Not only is yours or someone elses safety at risk, you risk giving paragliders a bad name. Paragliding pilots often depend on the generosity of private land owners who let us launch and land on their property. Let’s be grateful and respectful and not lose these privileges!

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Paramotor Range: How Far Can You Go With a Paramotor?

Paramotor Range: How Far Can You Go With a Paramotor?

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Flying a paramotor can be both fun and challenging. Most of us when flying a paramotor, our aim is to take off, fly, and land. But did you ever think how long can you actually stay up in the air?

You can expect the average paramotor to travel about 200 miles on a single tank of fuel. Different factors affect the paramotor’s range. Some of these are engine power, wing design, and the paramotor type.

Let’s take a closer look!

The Different Types of Engines

There are 3 types of paramotor engines. There is the 2-stroke engine, 4-stroke engine, and an electric motor. In this article, we’ll only be discussing the 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines.

The electric engine works for a short time, around an hour or so. That’s why it won’t be fitting to discuss in further detail here.

2-Stroke Engine

2-stroke engines are the most popular type of engines with pilots. The reason that they’re so famous is that this engine is so much easier to fix compared to other engines. Not only that, but it’s also much cheaper to get it manufactured that’s why it doesn’t cost you as much.

In comparison to other engines, the 2-stroke engine has a better power to weight ratio!

4-Stroke Engine

4-stroke engines have a lower RPM (revolutions per minute) than the 2-stroke engines. What that means, is that there won’t be much revving, which is the increased speed of an engine, like the 2-stroke engine.

Not having increased speed means it lacks power. Therefore you won’t be getting the range you’re hoping to acquire.

This type of engine is also more fuel-efficient but with half the power of a 2-stroke engine.

Choice of Wings

There are many types of wings that you could choose from. There are some wings that have for example a better glide ratio. This means it’ll require you to have less power to stay airborne. In this case, you’ll be using less fuel.

There’re other wings, that would have more drag. Drag slows the forward momentum, which needs more thrust and power to stay afloat. With this type of wings, you’ll be using more fuel.

The more fuel you’ll use the better planning you’d need to make for your fuel stops. So, when it comes to the choice of wings, you choose what you’d be able to sacrifice more than the other.

Wind Speed and Direction

A general rule is, the faster the wind the faster you’ll be able to travel. That is only true though if you’re flying in the same direction as the wind.

Plan according to the wind when you’re paramotoring. Even if you end up taking detours in order to be going in the same direction as the wind. Do it! Yes, you’ll be increasing the distance but you’ll be traveling faster and you might even reach your destination sooner than anticipated.

Your Method of Flying

When you’re flying your paramotor you should try to keep as much of a straight path as possible. When you make turns, you actually burn up more fuel.

Try to also maintain an altitude of 500ft. When you keep going up and down too much, this process needs more thrust. Therefore, you’ll be consuming a lot of fuel which will decrease your flight’s range.

Using a speedbar during your trip is advisable. As a speedbar will make a huge difference in terms of speed and fuel consumption.

So, How Far Can You Go With A Paramotor?

When you want to measure the range of how far you can go. You’d want to keep a few things in mind. How much fuel you’re using, what’s the speed you’re traveling with, and what is the total distance of your trip.

A simple calculation to use:

(Fuel capacity/rate of fuel used per hour) x miles per hour = Miles you can fly

To imagine it, even more, let’s say we have a paramotor that can go 40 mph and a fuel tank that pushes the capacity and has under 19 liters of fuel. This paramotor can burn 1.5 liters/hour and you’ll be flying ideally. Meaning, you’ll fly at 500ft and going straight.

At this rate, you’ll travel 506 miles before needing to refuel.

This scenario is of course with 0 mph wind speed and that you’ll stay at 500 ft the whole time. But, with wind speed being changeable and you’ll, of course, need to make some turns you’ll burn more fuel and have less mile range.

Also, most engines burn an average of 2 to 2.5 liters of fuel. So the situation mentioned earlier is for the sake of explanation!

If you were to add in some not so perfect situation like wind speed and the turns you’d make. It’ll be safe that the average is 200 miles.

Plan accordingly and use the equation mentioned above to get a better estimate for your paramotor.

Want To Go Even Further?

There are two other options if you’d want to travel farther. Keep in mind that 200 miles are on a single fuel of tank.

The first option is landing near a fuel station and then automatically taking off again. That is an option that most cross country pilots use. Miroslav Oros was able to break the world record using this method.

Another method and this one is used in the Icarus Trophy more is having a fuel bladder. Carrying a fuel bladder on your paramotor and then connecting it when the original tank is almost half empty.

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This way you’re going to travel a much further distance for sure without having to make any stops.

To Conclude

Planning for your trip may take you some time before actually taking off. But the better your plan the further you can actually go.

Knowing the wind speed, getting the proper engine, and wings will get you faster to your final destination.

Know your paramotor, and how long it could sustain being up in the air without having to do any pitstop!

How fast is it? How we test paraglider speeds

Measuring the performance characteristics of a paraglider, including paraglider speed, has always been notoriously difficult. But new tools are allowing pilots and manufacturers to do just that. Cross Country’s Hugh Miller reports on speed tests he’s been carrying out for the last year

Flymaster’s new True Air Speed (TAS) probe

Flymaster’s True AirSpeed (TAS) probe

When Flymaster’s new True Air Speed (TAS) probe was released a couple of years ago we started to measure the trim and top speeds of the paragliders we review. However, we’ve been very surprised by the results. In short, paragliders really aren’t as fast as most pilots – and manufacturers – believe they are.

First, a bit of science. It’s obviously important for powered aircraft pilots to know their exact speed. However, despite any effects of wind, planes go faster at altitude than at sea level due to the lower air pressure – that’s why passenger jets cruise at such high altitudes.

Their instruments rely on pitot tubes to measure what’s known as their ‘Indicated Air Speed’ – which gives the same speed reading regardless of whether the plane is flying at sea level or 30,000ft. When a pitot tube freezes up, it can have disastrous consequences, as the pilots lose any indication of their stall speed. This is what is thought to have contributed to the Rio-to-Paris Air France flight 447 crash in 2012.

Explaining the instrument
In paragliding and hang gliding, we’ve long relied on propeller-based air speed indicators and GPS figures, to give us our speeds. But neither of these are accurate. In fact, the effects of altitude alone will mean that in still air, a paraglider flying at a top speed of 51km/h at just above sea level would be flying at 58km/h at 3,000m. You just go that much faster in thinner air and propeller-based air speed indicators don’t compensate for this.

Obviously you don’t want to be re-working out the stall speed of your Boeing 747 at different altitudes, hence the importance of indicated air speed, measured by pitot tubes. A GPS speed figure doesn’t make this compensation for differences in temperature, density and pressure – and of course doesn’t factor in wind speed and direction, either. GPS is great for accurate ground speed, but useless for air speed.

The boffin test . Our speed probe in Oxford University

The boffin test … Our speed probe in Oxford University’s wind tunnel

Anyhow, we were so surprised by the low readings our Flymaster TAS probe gave us that we sent it to Oxford University to be checked against their calibrated hot-wire anemometer. Hot-wire anemometers have been used for many years in the study of fluid dynamics. They are extremely sensitive and are almost universally employed for the detailed study of turbulent flows.

Adrian Thomas, a former British Paragliding Champion and regular contributor to Cross Country, ran the tests in Oxford University’s wind tunnel – where normally he tests the aerodynamics of small insects.

“A pitot tube like Flymaster’s gives you a reading that reflects the forces acting on the pitot tube, and those vary in exactly the same way as the forces acting on the wing”, Adrian explained.

“The Flymaster TAS probe gives a nicely linear result”, he told us. “It slightly over reads – the real air speeds are consistently a fraction lower than the given figures across the 20-60 km/h range.”

“All pitot tubes need regular calibration, and it’s something sailplane pilots put a lot of effort into. NASA have also developed a calibration system between GPS figures and pitot tube figures, and it would be easy technology for instrument manufacturers to bring into paragliding”, he explained. Current methods used for aircraft pitot tube calibration include trailing cones, tower fly-bys, and pacer aeroplanes, which are all obviously time and cost intensive. The NASA method could actually be incorporated into paragliding instruments in the future.


Following the wind tunnel tests Adrian gave us a recalibration formula to calculate precise indicated air speeds which match GPS speeds at sea level. Going forwards, we will be using these results to inform our glider reviews, recalibrating our Flymaster TAS probes at six-monthly intervals.

To be absolutely sure that we can have faith in what our calibrated TAS probe tells us, I spent a day cycling up and down the seafront with the TAS probe and three GPSs. The TAS was wobbling a little on the shorter string dangling from my handlebar, but its reading was steadily consistent with the GPS ground speed.

It is worth noting that most manufacturers obviously don’t go through this whole rigmarole – they just compare their new prototype paragliders against their previous models, and measure what’s known as the ‘delta’ – the difference between trim speed and top speed. For CCC class, they report the speed system travel associated with that delta. So, for example, the Boomerang 10 has 15cm speed system travel, and a delta of 18km/h.

Does it matter?
Does top speed really matter? In competition, of course it does. Some test pilots claim the latest CCC wings are capable of 67km/h. In our view, this is an impossible Indicated Air Speed figure. We’ve tested the Ozone R11, widely regarded as the fastest paraglider ever made, and recorded a maximum of 65km/h. The R11 we tested featured standard risers, not extended risers which allow even further travel. CCC wings don’t feature trimmers like the R11 and have necessarily been restricted.

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Airspeed of CCC paragliders

“I hardly ever see ground speeds consistently in the 60s, and I use full bar a lot”, said Adrian, who flies a Boomerang 10 and is also involved with glider development at GIN.

“On the other hand, I go as fast as anyone else so what does it matter?” he asks. “There is a little maturity appearing in the comp scene. Pilots have realised that trimming their wings fast means they lose out on climb and particularly on the gains you get going straight in lifty air at trim. At the most recent Superfinal, the wings that were checked were all within millimetres of manufacturers’ defined trim settings.”

Glider examples
We measured the top speed of some of the hottest three-liners: the UP Trango XC3, Ozone’s M6 and the GIN GTO2. Using the Flymaster TAS probe, we measured a top speed of 50-51km/h for all three wings, flown at 3kg below the top of the weight range. The new 777 King is a little quicker. This is indicated air speed, and should be the same at sea level as at cloudbase.

Airspeed of EN D paragliders

Try telling an EN-D pilot that though, and they’ll likely be a little shocked. They may also say they have recorded a GPS speed of 55-56 km/h when flying in the still evening air in the Alps. Both of us, however, are telling the same story.

Problems with measuring speed
However, obtaining accurate results using a TAS probe still isn’t easy. Thermik magazine editor Norbert Aprissnig told us: “We too have looked at providing accurate speed figures for our reviews but it has been a learning exercise in just how difficult it is to get accurate figures.”

He added: “Although modern TAS probes allow for automatic compensation for temperature and altitude, we still have to make sure the wings are in stable flight before taking measurements. Air movements cause fluctuations and we as test pilots end up filtering the data as best we can.”

How to test airspeed on a paraglider

Also worth noting is the instrument’s wind-speed indication. Most instrument systems, including XCSoar and the Oudie, provide information on wind direction and strength, but as you’ll know if you’ve ever used them much, the figures fluctuate enormously. You have to be flying consistent circles for the instrument to generate an approximate calculation. However, a pitot tube system like the Flymaster TAS is the only way to obtain accurate wind information as it will run a precise comparison between your aircraft speed with your GPS speed.

Finally, just to confuse things a little, Flymaster’s TAS probe stands for ‘True Air Speed’. From an aviation perspective, this is misleading, as ‘true air speed’ is different from the ‘indicated air speed’ that we’re interested in – the bald, pressure-based truth of an aircraft’s speed irrelevant of altitude.

What does it all mean?
Perhaps unsurprisingly the figures reveal that as a sport we have regularly over-estimated the speed of our wings. Just as one example, some pilots claim their paragliders have a trim speed of 40km/h. Meanwhile, Moyes states a trim speed of 35-37km/h for their Litespeed RX competition hang glider. Spot the difference.

Airspeed of an EN B or EN C paraglider

Let’s face it, pilots are loathe to be told their ‘60km/h’ wing only really hits 51km/h, and manufacturers understandably don’t want to publicise potentially slower figures. No one wants to be slower than the next pilot, or their manufacturing rival. But our testing has shown that most ‘mid-B’s can get to around 44-45km/h accelerated, while ‘hot’ EN-B wings and many C class wings have a top speed of 46-48km/h. Only EN-Ds and a handful of the very fastest C’s make it beyond 50km/h.

Of course, top speed in still air means nothing if the leading edge is too fragile for the speed to be usable in real life conditions. So let’s not get into a bidding war for the fastest wings on the block. In our reviews we will continue to focus on a wing’s usable speed range, accelerating through turbulent air to test its rigidity and cohesion, as this will always be a better indicator of a good, fast wing than any number.

This article was first published in Cross Country 172 (August 2016). Hugh Miller is a review pilot for Cross Country Magazine and UK XC League Champion 2016. If you enjoyed this sample article, perhaps you’d consider subscribing and supporting the world’s only international free flying magazine?

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