Paramotor Speed: How Fast can They Go, and What’s an Average Speed?
Flying Paramotors is one of the most exhilarating experiences that life has to offer. Soaring up at great heights excites the mind, gets your blood pumping, and makes your heart skip a beat. The heights at which you fly paramotors aren’t the only thing that makes paramotoring exciting though. Paramotors can travel at a good clip as well. Just how fast can paramotors go?
How fast can paramotors go, and what’s an average speed? Paramotors fly at 30 mph on average when flying in a small amount of wind. You can go 70 mph or more if you have a strong tailwind, but if you are going against the wind in a large wing, you may only travel 3-4 mph.
There are many other different things that can affect the speed of a paramotor though. For instance, the height at which you are flying can determine the kinds of winds you are likely to find.
The wing of the paramotor plays a large role in how fast the paramotor can go. Things like the size of the wing, whether or not the wing has trimmers, and if there is a speed bar equipped on the paramotor will change the max speed of the paramotor, as well as how it flies under normal conditions.
The age of the paramotor, the experience of the pilot, the thrust of the engine, all of these things affect the potential flight speed of a paramotor. Let’s talk about these things that change the speed of a paramotor,
Speeds at Different Altitudes
Speeds Close to the Ground
When flying close to the ground, wind speeds tend to be slower, as there are more obstacles to slow the wind, such as mountains, trees, and even other winds. Different oppositional winds will be more turbulent with each other closer to the ground and slow each other down.
This effect is minimized the farther up you go, as there isn’t as much influence from the axis of the ground acting as a barrier to the winds (the ground effectively channeling the winds together and the winds canceling each other out).
Speeds At High Altitudes
There is less friction and turbulence between winds as you go higher up. You can travel significantly faster if you are flying above 10,000 ft (depending on wind direction) than you can on the ground. Though it is cold and there are slightly lower oxygen levels at that height, the jetstreams of wind up there are powerful.
Tucker Gott and his Strategy to Win
There is a paramotor race called The Icarus Trophy. One of the most recent winners was a popular YouTuber by the name of Tucker Gott. Tucker had to travel around 1,000 miles on his paramotor to get to the finish line of the 2017 Icarus race.
Not only did Tucker win the race, but won it by a margin of two days before any of the other participants did. How did he win the race so thoroughly?
Redditor “FatMagic” had this to say about Tucker’s victory and the aspects that went into his insane speed:
“My best guess after obsessively observing & following the race maps and stats…
1 – He flew above 10,000 ft for much of the first leg, catching a good tailwind and cruising around 50-60 MPH. This was aided by the use of a speed bar on the first day (which he stopped using after, it was too tiring). His competitors during this leg were maybe pulling 25-35 MPH. They also flew much lower. Around 5000 ft and they complained of the cold temps even at 5k, and didn’t understand how Tucker would want to fly up at 10k – where is was around freezing (26-32 F).
2 – He used every ounce of daylight to fly. Only landing to refuel (food & gas) & bathroom breaks. He would be up early and off as soon as it was legal (30 mins before sunrise & after sunset w/ a strobe on his motor frame), and would land as late as legal. Many of his competitors would rise later and take their time getting up off the ground in the morning.
3 – He flew during some sketchy conditions (salt flats mid-day thermals being the worst), but handled it extremely well. Luckily he dodged much of the worse weather that his competitors ended up facing.
4 – A couple competitors had bad motor outs (in the mountains!), bad launches (destroyed props!), and even flew into powerlines (in a chicken suit!). So honestly, his competitors ended up behind in the race by these mishaps. If those issues hadn’t happened, maybe it would have been a little closer (not by much though).
Crazy part is – Tucker could have ended the race a day sooner if he took the route that Canyon was taking (basically due south). But he decided to take the “safer” and less risky route and swing west to Jackpot, and then southeast towards the salt flats.
This race is in its’ infancy honestly, and Tucker just brought the bar up. This is not the end. Now due to the publicity that Tucker has brought to it, there will be more competitors in the coming years, and much more competition. And it will be stiff competition. If Tucker continues to compete, he will not hold the Trophy for long.
My 2 cents on Icarus (which I thoroughly enjoyed!)”
reddit.com, Comment by FatMagic
What Does the Speed Bar Do?
What Is the Speed Bar?
A speed bar is a foot control that can change the speed of the paramotor. It attaches to the harness and connects to the canopy via pulleys. Speed bars can be tiring to use for long periods of time, as they are foot controls that need to be pressed down kind of hard.
Use of trimmers will increase your speed as well, but the use of trimmers and a speed bar at the same time is dangerous. You can go very fast, but the use of both the speed bar and trimmers has a high risk for a frontal stall.
How does the Speed Bar Make You Go Faster?
The speed bar changes the angle of the wing by use of pulleys and lines. When the speed bar is used, the angle of attack is decreased, and the wing doesn’t drag as much in the wind. Though the rate of elevation is decreased, speed is increased.
Wing Collapses at High Speeds
Turning at High Speeds
When traveling at high speeds, you have to be careful with how hard you turn. Though it may seem like fun, it can be quite dangerous to yank the lines and try to turn sharply.
In fluid dynamics, there is a term called “angle of attack.” In aeronautics, this is a term used to describe the angle that the wing is cutting through the air.
Paramotor wings will pretty typically have an angle of attack that is above the airstream. However, turning at a high speed can change this.
Turning changes the angle of attack for one side of the wing. The intent of this is to offset the balance of pressure in the wing. This isn’t a problem until air starts pushing in on the top of the wing. Turning sharply/quickly at high speeds can do this, and the pressure will collapse the wing.
Especially while flying in turbulent winds, be sure to use caution. A collapsed wing is manageable, but definitely something to be avoided.
Thermals and how to Safely Enter/Exit Them (At High Speeds)
There are three tips that I can give when it comes to flying in thermals at high speeds that all fall under one rule, be a Proactive Pilot:
- Be a Proactive Pilot, Use Your Breaks: Don’t be complacent and just go for speed. There are real dangers in paramotoring, and it’s up to you to keep yourself safe. Use the brakes, not only to slow yourself down but to avoid and breakthrough wing collapses before they can completely happen.
- Be a Proactive Pilot, Weight Shift: Some pilots get too relaxed in their flights and forget that weight shifting is an important part of being an active pilot. Letting the air toss you around, especially entering or leaving a thermal at high speeds, is a recipe for disaster. Constantly be watching your weight shift, and be ready to adjust it.
- Be a Proactive Pilot, Fly Level: Sure, you can be an active pilot. Sure, you can weight shift more often. But what are we being proactive and remembering to weight shift towards? Leveled flying. Flying level is most likely to help you stay safe. Thermals are turbulent spots, and dangerous to be in at high speeds. Flying at a strange angle is likely to collapse your wing.
Can You Fly Too Slow?
You have to have some movement (or at least wind in your wing) to fly your paramotor. However, barring that, there’s really nothing stopping you from flying nice and easy. There are a few things though that can come from incorrectly trying to fly slowly that can become issues.
Pumping the Brakes: Cause for Wing Collapse
Sometimes, new pilots will pump the breaks because they are afraid of going too fast. This is actually quite dangerous, as it can cause a stall and has the potential for a wing collapse.
New pilots should be aware that pumping the breaks is not a good idea. You should be confident in what you are doing in the sky, and not be afraid of a little speed.
How to Fly Slowly and Safely
Don’t pump the breaks, or turn sharply for only a moment and expect it to work as well as being concise, slow and deliberate with your actions. You can fly slowly perfectly safely, but it’s best to be sure that all your actions are drawn out.
Get good at thinking ahead, and think about what move you want to be executing 3 seconds from now. Paramotors have decent reaction time to your inputs, but it’s not always instantaneous. Just keep that in mind, and you’ll be perfectly safe while flying.
Paramotoring Clothes to Wear When Planning to Travel Different Speeds
When thinking about what clothes you should wear at different speeds, there are other things to consider besides just the speed that can a ffect your decision:
Altitude –The higher up that you get when paramotoring, the faster you can go, but the colder it will tend to be. Layers are important to stay warm. Depending on just how high up you plan on going you should consider wearing different clothing than you normally wear.
Snow Pants and a heavy jacket are good, but those things alone may not cut it. Consider compression undergarments if you plan on flying at higher altitudes. Higher altitudes provide unique opportunities to go insanely fast, but can also be dangerous for your health.
“The main reason compression clothing exists is to improve blood circulation during physical exercise. The goal is to compress muscles so that they, while contracting, constrict veins. This then enables blood to reach the heart more easily while improving muscle oxygenation. Another benefit is that compressive apparel prevents the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles during training/competitions, and helps the body to recuperate more rapidly after it and reduces muscular inflammation.”
The combination of compression undergarments with a thick outer layer should help you stay warm and oxygenated when getting that boost of speed from flying high.
Temperature – If it’s cold outside, you should be cautious and careful. Flying at high speeds can sap any heat you have away, and flying at low speeds if it’s cold enough isn’t a fun experience either.
If you decide to fly at high altitudes when it’s already cold outside and you aren’t prepared, that could be a dangerous situation and would not be fun.
Knowing how cold it is outside should let you have a good idea of what to wear in many situations, but especially when you plan on flying quickly. Wind can blow all the heat out of you, no matter how bundled up you are.
If it’s hot outside though, it should feel amazing to fly your paramotor at high speeds, the wind cooling you off as it blows over you. Just be mindful that even if you can handle the temperature while you’re on the ground, flying (especially at higher speeds) will cool you down.
Wind Speeds –When flying paramotors, wind is something that you become well acquainted with. In low wind speeds, when you’re flying at slower speeds, you might not need to bundle up all that much. However, if you are flying in higher winds you can get going pretty fast.
Something to consider purchasing if you fly a paramotor is a windbreaker. Windbreakers, like the name implies, break up the constant barrage of wind. They are typically tightly woven fabrics that don’t let the wind in and will help keep you warm from cool air going through more porous fabrics.
Planned Speeds – Consider the speeds that you plan on flying at. If you are planning on going faster, be more prepared. If you’re just going for “a leisurely fly through the park”, you might not need to pull all the stops on dressing warmly.
On the other hand though, it’s a good idea to be prepared should you decide you want to go faster. It might be nice to have a extra sweater/jacket with you on the paramotor, and a spare heavy pair of gloves.
Humidity –At higher altitudes, humidity makes very little difference in what you should wear. However, if you are flying closer to the ground, humid air plus cool temperatures can make flying uncomfortable, and the faster you fly, the worse it seems to get.
One solution to this is to buy a windbreaker. Just like it blocks wind, a windbreaker will block moisture in the air as well, keeping your clothes underneath nice and dry.
Most windbreakers are waterproof in this way, so a windbreaker is a really good investment for paramotoring.
Relationship Between Paramotor Speed and Paramotorist Experience
Newer Pilots Fly Safer Wings
Newer pilots to the sport of paramotoring are typically drawn to the safer paramotors. These paramotors are not as fast but are less likely to have wing collapses or other dangerous issues.
Because newer pilots are more likely to buy these paramotors than more dangerous ones, newer pilots tend to fly slower than more experienced pilots.
More Experiences Pilots Tend To Fly More Competition Tier Wings
Those who have been into paramotoring for a while are aware of their own skills and abilities and have developed them to a point where they can safely fly the more dangerous but faster paramotors.
Though some more experienced fliers will still want to fly safer paramotors, many will choose to fly faster, more reflexive paramotors.
Paramotor Wings and Their Effect on Speed
Paramotor wings that are larger in size tend to do two things.
- Catch the wind with a higher efficiency
- Have more stability
Larger wings on paramotors have more surface area, and so can catch more of the available wind. This is great when you have a wind coming from behind that can propel you forward. You can pick up a lot of speed quickly by doing this.
However, the opposite is also true. If you have a wind coming at you from the direction you are headed, that’s more wind that is pushing you back.
The stability of the larger wings on paramotors has it’s pluses and minuses as far as speed is concerned. In turbulent winds, the larger wing has greater focus and can move more quickly (though if a large consistent wind comes along out of nowhere, you could be in for a bumpy ride).
Smaller wings have the advantage over smaller wings only in that they are more reflexive, and that they have less surface area to push back against when flying into the wind. Aside from that, larger wings are typically the better option for speed.
The Speeds of Two-Stroke, Four-Stroke, and Electric Engines
Two-Stroke Engines are by far the most common type of paramotor engine. They have a good amount of thrust and are light. They are solid engines and you should consider one of these for your normal paramotor flying experience.
Unlike Two-Stroke Engines, Four-Stroke engines are heavy powerhouses. They weigh more than the two-stroke (which boosts stability) and can provide more thrust than two-stroke paramotors.
Four-Stroke Paramotors are good for traveling through turbulent winds at a good clip, but the lightness of the Two-Stroke gives it an edge in speed over the Four-Stroke in most other situations.
Electric Engines are not engines that were built for speed. They don’t have good lasting power or thrust. The redeeming quality of electric engines is that they don’t require nearly as much maintenance as the Four-Stroke or Two-Stroke Engine.
It’s slow, but if you use it right, it can save you money in the end.
How Flying a Used Paramotor Affects Speed
Over time, paramotors can deteriorate. Even with constant and consistent maintenance, every paramotor has its decline. Older engines tend to only be able to output a portion of their original thrust. Depending on the engine and the age, some engines can lose around 20 lbs of thrust.
However, this really isn’t the end of the world. Any paramotorist can tell you that the thrust of the motor matters a lot less than the capability a pilot has to capture and harness the wind.
Using your wing correctly and efficiently makes any deficit of thrust inconsequential. Though there may be a slight loss of speed, it shouldn’t be more than a few mph.
Which is Safer, Paramotoring or Paragliding? Paramotoring is safer than paragliding. Paragliding has nearly twice the fatality rate of paramotoring. Paramotors heightened the ability to adjust course makes them safer to learn. However, if the pilots of either paramotoring or paragliding are experienced, the risk is about the same.
How High Can a Paramotor Fly?Paramotors can be flown to a height of 18,000 feet, but the air is dangerously thin. Most paramotor flights only reach heights of 1000 feet. It is generally safer to fly high than low to the ground. When flying low, the reaction time is reduced if a problem arises before hitting the ground.
What are the Primary Causes of Accidents on Paramotors?The most common cause of accidents is pilot error (meaning that there were no equipment failures accompanying the pilot error). The second most common cause of paramotoring accidents is mechanical failure. The third most common cause of paramotoring accidents is bad weather.
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.
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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!
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How does a paraglider fly?
The ingredients for flying? Air and movement through this air mass.
The orange profile is a simplified cut-out of our canopy. Once the pilot leaves the ground, the airflow around this profile will create a relative wind. It is this flow, which will create the Aerodynamic Force (also known as the Aerodynamic Force Resultant; or AFR). See, already a new word!
More precisely, the Aerodynamic Forces are broken down into Lift and Drag. They also balance the weight.
So what is Lift? Simply the sum of an overpressure (under our wing) and a depression (on our wing).
What about Drag? It is the resistance to penetration of the fluid that is air.
Someone has to fly the wing, so we have to take into account the weight.
This weight is not only that of the pilot, but it includes everything that flies: the glider, the harness, the helmet, the shoes, etc… That’s why we commonly call it the TFW: Total Flying Weight. PTV in French
Here are the forces that apply around our wing in more detail. The relative wind flowing above and below is easier to visualise.
Have you noticed that when passing overhead, the air has more distance to travel? Yet the air particles arrive at the wing tip at the same time! Why is this? The air above will accelerate and create a vacuum, in other words; part of the Lift.
A fine mixture of all these forces makes it possible for a paraglider to fly for hours. This theoretical part is a basis for understanding many other phenomena if you want to become a pilot.
But perhaps you prefer to understand these phenomena through a video? In that case we share with you a more concrete explanation to understand aerodynamic lift.
” With this knowledge, you already have a head start on learning to fly with us!
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Flying a Powered Paraglider
By huntnchick Follow
About: My name is Janell, I am married and we have one beautiful girl! I have always been crafty as well as my sister. we got it from our amazing mom. I am kind of a perfectionist and I am trying to break free of… More About huntnchick »
My husband has always wanted to fly, but I thought it was far too risky. The opposite was true, flying a powered paraglider can be very safe when you follow the rules. We wanted to put together a tutorial for anyone who has the desire to fly to understand that they really can do it. I will say that these steps are not to replace a real instructor, but that these steps are things to remember, practice, and be familiar with when you are ready to fly.
Step 1: Get Comfortable With Your Machine
The most important thing you need to do is become very familiar with your machine and all the major aspects until you can perform them safely and consistently.
The first 3 parts are:
1- practicing kiting the wing so that you are able to pull it into the air and steer it so that it is straight and level with the ground.
2- Become familiar with the throttle and how to ease into a full throttle and as well as releasing the throttle smoothly. This worked great using tie downs hooked to a soccer goal. It helps you understand the power and feel how a full throttle really feels.
3- And lastly is to wear it on your back and get use to using the throttle while walking around. Since this flying machine is for ‘Foot Launching’ it is important to really become comfortable with wearing it. Going into details on each of these things would be a long tutorial in itself.
Step 2: Get a Good Lay of the Kite
If there is a breeze you need to figure out the direction and angle of it and lay your kite out on the ground so you will be running into the wind. Make sure the ground and path ahead of you is clear of rocks, branches, trees, ditches, cactus, and so on. You want a clear path for you to run as well as where your kite will touch the ground or may touch the ground. Check all your strings and make sure none of them are twisted.With your back to the wind, pull the handles and bring your kite into the air to find the exact direction of the wind as you steer it in order to have it steady. Then let your kite come back to the ground and as the back edge of the kite touches the ground, take a step forward so all the sails are open and facing up. The sails on this kite are the very front edge of the kite, they are square holes that allow the air to flow into the kite. You may need to hand straighten the very edges of the wing. This may take a few times to get it right. The first picture shows the steering the kite and the second picture shows the lay of the kite. Sometimes the white sails would be on top of the blue back edge which is fine as well.
A good lay of the kite will be very helpful and reduce unsuccessful attempts. It is important enough to redo the lay after every failure to take off, even though it is time consuming. It allows the entire kite to come up at the same times instead of being off balanced and very hard to correct.
Step 3: Inspect and Warm Up Your Machine
It is important to inspect your machine every time you fly making sure the gas is on and that it sounds right when you start it up, and do NOT hold the throttle as you start up the machine. Make sure you brace your machine properly when you check the throttle to keep it from spinning on you and having the propeller turn towards you. Listen and make sure it sounds right. Then shut it off before putting it on and getting into position. This also allows you to make sure all the bubbles in the gas line are taken out before you fly.
Also my husband’s machine decided to take a long time to kill the motor so after he realized it he has been able to judge how much sooner he needs to kill the motor in order to land.
Step 4: Prepare for Take Off
Put on the harness and helmet (is recommended) and make sure they are correct and secure. Then put your machine on your back and make sure you attach the kite to you as well. Then start the motor and stand a little bent over so the propeller angled up and not down at the kite. Once everything is in order you are ready for take off.
My husband uses a helmet that attaches to our GPS’ and it has been great. He pushes a button on the side of his helmet to talk to me and I can track where he is.
Step 5: Start to Run
Look ahead and pick a point you will run towards a long ways off and then pull the kite up and begin to run. Be sensitive to the kite as your touch will also help you know if it is tipping one direction. My husband would look back at the kite but after a lot of practice and a helmet he could feel it coming up and just look up instead. Sometimes looking back would alter the wing and he had more failures to launch from it, but at the same time he was able to take off more because he knew what was happening.
As soon as that kite is up, look up at it, only glancing at where you are going for split seconds. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE KITE and get the kite straight and level with the ground.
Step 6: DON’T SIT DOWN and Avoid Riser Twist
Once it is level and you are in full control, squeeze the throttle until full throttle (depending on the breeze mph it may pick you up quick, or you may have to run quite a ways.) Once the kite begins to lift, you will have the natural instinct to sit down, DO NOT SIT DOWN! Keep your feet down and be prepared to run again if needed.
The kite will lift and once you are far enough in the air you can sit down. Just like if you stood on a weighing scale and squatted down really quick you will see the numbers jump super high, the movement of sitting down too early will add weight to your body and you can drop altitude and hit your machine back on the ground which can easily break your propeller or more.
We have watched a lot of YouTube videos on Powered Paragliding and there are 2 very common mistakes. The first is to look up at your kite because the kite could be so angled to the side and if your feet come off the ground, your weight will need to swing to center itself under the kite and you will hit the ground. The next thing is to not sit down. We have seen so many videos of people sitting down too early and they break their propellers almost every time.
Once you are in the air you want to avoid riser-twist as well and that is done by letting up on the throttle a bit and turning the natural direction the machine wants to go. With our machine and the direction the propeller turns, he begins to circle to the right. It also keeps you from doing a grandfather clock and sway from side to side. Riser twist is where your kite stays put and you spin around backwards and twist the lines which is very dangerous and you will crash.
Step 7: Flight
Once you are in the air remember to enjoy it. Many people, like I did, believe that if the motor stops you would plummet to the earth. This is not so. This kite has a 6 feet forward 1 foot down ratio so if the motor is idle you will glide down 1 foot for every 6 feet you go forward. The motor can give speed but it is also intended for lift. If you want to go higher you would squeeze the throttle. If the motor were to stop completely you would have time to land. The key factor is to always have a spot to land in sight. Once in the air you can let go of the wing, breaks, and throttle and the kite will glide and you can steer with shifting your weight side to side. So no need to panic if anything comes out of your hand, they will remain in reach to grab again. Although letting go is a hard concept but important to realize.
Keep in mind that there are laws against you flying with in a certain mileage of airports, also watch out for trees, power lines etc. Most importantly you need to fly within your skill level. The very skilled powered paragliders can do awesome tricks and stunts. Those take years of flying to be ready to attempt.
There are rules to always have a safe flight;
1- never fly in wind over 10 mph.
2- never fly with black clouds in the sky.
3- only fly morning and evening since during the day there are thermals.
4- if the air is bumpy that is a sign of thermals and get down.
5- it is better to be on the ground wishing to be in the air than in the air wishing to be on the ground.
An example of thermals is if you took a bucket and put it into water and pulled up, there is a current of water that rushes under the bucket to replace what you took. The air is the same way and the thermals can lift you up and then shove you down. So be smart and don’t fly in thermals. Hangliders use thermals, but powered paragliders don’t.
Lastly be careful flying by mountains or cliffs, because the wind is very different near them since it follows the contour of the mountain. This means that the air can be going straight up or straight down and both are extremely dangerous. The wind that goes up, must eventually come down. My husband flies very high above cliffs and mountains and has even felt the lift and sudden drop of his machine and he says it is a helpless feeling.
Step 8: Landing
As you decided it is time to land find an open area and keep in mind that you want to land into the wind and not with the wind. If you land with the wind, the kite can overshoot you and you may run into it. Like shown here.
As you near your destination kill your motor, you do not want the propeller to catch your wing after you land.
As you near the ground, slide out of your seat so you are in a standing position (even though you are strapped in still)
As you get to 5 feet from the ground you want to begin to pull both breaks down so your hands are level with your hips. This is how you stall your wing and it nearly stops you so that you can land.
Step 9: Packing Up
When packing up our kite, we start by doing a daisy chain knot up from the handles to the kite to keep them from getting tangled and we also have a side pocket in our kite bag that the handles go into. You don’t want the lines to get tangled up, it is a pain to figure out how to undo them.