So, you want to do this yourself?

Paramotoring is definitely one of the cheapest ways of flight. However before plunging in to the adventures and fun of paramotoring there are some important things to consider during your quest of your new fantastic hobby.

The following section provides you with some tips explaining the basic stuff you should when starting.
Now, I don't pretend to know everything about paramotoring and/or paragliding, not in the least. The following tips are purely made of my own opinions and limited expertise. However, I do think these tips are interesting to read and might help you in taking some important decisions. If you feel that something is not correct or you have another idea, then feel free to contact me.

As mentioned before, paramotoring is not that expensive. Buying a good motorbike will probably cost you much more then all the gear you will need to actually get airborne.

 

Tip 1: Get informed!

Browse the Internet, you are already doing this since you are reading this page. So, you already get an extra point. This is good, continue searching the web and read all you can read.
If you know paramotor pilots, or know there e-mail address, don't hesitate to talk to them and see if you cannot visit them while they are flying. Most of the pilots will be glad to give you as much information as you need. However, try to do this with as many pilots as possible. Don't rely on what a single person says.
When you are looking at pilots, look at the different systems and gliders, ask for information about all the stuff you see.
Also ask them where they have learnt their skills and note them down, so you can contact the schools later.

Tip 2: Try a tandem flight

If there are instructors or qualified tandem pilots on the location you are at, try to do a tandem flight. If not, then find one.
Most of the time a tandem flight will cost you a little bit of money, somewhere between 50-70 € is a fair price. You should get at least around 30 minutes of airtime for this.
It is well worth the investment and this for several reasons. First of all you will feel if the sensation of paramotoring is something for you or not. Flying with nothing around you is something that cannot be compared with a normal flight in an airplane. Secondly you'll have fun and finally it will save you the training money if you feel it is not something for you.

Tip 3: Find a good school or instructor.

This might not be so easy, there are plenty of schools. However each school has its own training system, equipment and price.
Your selection criteria should be at least composed of the following:

TIP 4: Try to fly with other equipment!

Once you feel comfortable enough flying with your training equipment, try to fly with other gear. Although this is easier said then done you should try this before even thinking about buying something.
But in order to understand the characteristics of the different equipment you should fly with it more then once. It is impossible to know on your first flight, because it will probably feel different then you are used to, which doesn't mean it is bad, you are just not used to it.
Some schools have different engines and gliders, which is good, try to fly as many of them as you can.

Try to fly at least with a glider specifically made for paramotoring and a normal freeflight glider. Also try to fly to with a paramotor with high attachments and low attachments.

Buying equipment

Ok, so you completed your training, congratulations, you are ready to explore the wonders of paramotoring flight.
Now, you are probably into trouble, you can't use the school equipment anymore and you want to fly. The quest for equipment begins.

TIP 5: Have an apropriate budget

If you don't have enough money then wait! Don't be tempted to buy cheap second hand equipment because you don't have enough money.
Buying cheap equipment probably means that it is old and probably not as safe as new equipment. Remember, safety comes first, that is the most important advice I can give you.
Most new paramotors are in a price range between 4000 to 5500 €.
Most new gliders are in a price range of 2000 to 3000 €.

So a total budget for new equipment of about 7000 € should get you set comfortable.

TIP 6: Beware of second hand equipment

Gliders

Altough perfect second hand exists, it is difficult to know the quality.
Remember, the glider is the most important part of your equipment, if the glider fails you can be in big trouble.
Be prepared to pay good money for a good glider, don't go for cheap, after all your life depends on it.
If you do want to buy a second hand glider, then make sure it has been tested by a qualified rigger. If the seller cannot give you this certificate then DON'T buy the glider.
If the seller does not have such a certificate, request him to get one or propose him that you will take care of it, however he should pay the bill for the testing of the glider. Only when the glider has passed the test, you should consider buying it.

Paramotors

Be aware of old equipment. Mostly people will sell there paramotor because they don't really like it. Make sure the seller sells his engine for a good reason. This is not as easy to figure out, because you never know if one is telling the truth. A good reason might be that the pilot has lost or gained a lot of weight and the pilot is outside of the motor weight range.
In any case before buying this equipment try to listen to other pilots regarding this particular paramotor.

TIP 7: Choosing a glider/paramotor.

Gliders come in lots of different flavors and sizes. Each type of glider has its own flying characteristics. You should be sure you will feel comfortable with these characteristics and that you have the apropriate pilot skills to safely fly the glider.

2 main types of gliders exists which can be used for paramotoring.

Now, which one should you choose: Well, that's up to your budget and whether or not you want to combine paramotoring and freeflight. Also how much you do of what. If you fly paramotor most of the time or vice versa.
If you only want to do paramotoring I would recommend buying a paramotor glider. If you want to do both and have the budget, then buy 2 gliders. If you don't have the budget and want to do both then buy a freeflight glider.

An important note is you have to be carefull when combining freeflight and paramotoring, because your glider might need adjustments when switching between powered or none powered flight, depending on the paramotor you have.

Freeflight harnasses always use low attachments glider hook ins. This means the brake lines of your glider will need to be set for low attachment.
Paramotors come in High and Low attachment flavors. If you buy a low attachment paramotor there is no need to change the brake line settings when switching from paramotor to freeflight.
However if you use the same glider with a high attachment paramotor you will need to modify the brake line settings each time you switch. This can be a hassle and even be dangerous should you forget it.

So, If you want to practice freeflight and paramotoring with the same glider, a low attachment paramotor might be a better idea.

High attachment paramotors: The glider gets attached to your paramotor above your shoulder. This is comparable with a normal parachute. The advantages are that you are hanging on the glider and that you do not feel much turbulence or get less feedback from the glider. So, it might be a bit more comfortable. However the disadvantages are that you do not get as much feedback from your glider as compared to lower attachment paramotors. The takeoff is also more difficult since you do not have as much control over the glider as compared to low attachment paramotors.

Low attachment paramotors: The glider get attached to the paramotor much lower. Just as in a freeflight glider. The advantages are you get much more feedback from the glider and you can use weightshift very effectively for turning (you don't have to pull the brakes to turn). Takeoff is much easier, because you have better feedback of the glider, you can feel and steer the glider with your shoulders giving you better chances to recuperate from a bad (assymetrical) lift of the glider.
The disadvantages of a low attachment paramotor is that you feel more feedback and therefor feel more the potential turbulence in the air and feel it immediatly when the glider is behaving strangely. However this is not really a disadvantage, it just might be strange in the beginning especially when transitioning from high attachment paramotors.

In any case you will find out that low or high attachment paramotors are always a big subject for discussion. Who is right? Who knowns? and do we really care?
It really doesn't matter, what's important is that you enjoy your flights regardless of paramotor type.

Ok, so you have decided on particular glider type

TIP 8: Choose a glider with an appropriate classification for your pilot skills.

Since you have just started paramotoring it is important to choose a glider which is suitable for your skills.
Each glider should have a particular classification. These classifications are done by official testing instances.
Be sure to check if the glider is certified by one of these instances.

AFNOR (French)
CLASSIFICATION
DESCRIPTION
Standard Suitable for beginners to advanced pilots
Performance Suitable for advanced pilots.
Competition Suitable only for expert/test pilots only
Biplace Certified for Biplace (tandem) operation.

DHV (German)
CLASSIFICATION
DESCRIPTION
DHV 1 Paragliders with simple and very forgiving flying characteristics
DHV 1-2 Paragliders with good-natured flying characteristics
DHV 2 Paragliders with demanding flying characteristics and potentially dynamic reactions to turbulence and pilot errors. Recommended for regularly flying pilots.
DHV 2-3 Paragliders with very demanding flying characteristics and potentially violent reactions to turbulence and pilot errors. Only recommended for experienced and regularly flying pilots.
DHV 3 Paragliders with very demanding flying characteristics and potentially very violent reactions to turbulence and pilot errors, little scope for pilot errors. For expert pilots only.
Biplace Certified for Biplace (tandem) operation.

Make sure your glider is classified as a Standard or DHV-1 or DHV 1-2 glider.
These gliders are very good gliders and can recuperate automatically from most abnormal situations.
Be sure to check on the glider for these certifications, they should be noted on the glider itself.
Don't buy a glider which does not have these certifications.

TIP 9: Choose a glider within the apropriate weight range.

Gliders are built for a specific weight range. It is very important to buy a glider which is suitable for your specific weight.
Flying a glider outside of the weight range can be very dangerous. You should never do this.
There are a lot of discussions about flying a glider outside of its maximum or minimum weight enveloppe, however flying an underweighted glider is probably more dangerous then flying the same glider overweighted. This might sound a bit unlogical. However a glider is made to handle much more weight (pulling g-forces) then it is certified for. Flying a wing when underweighted will change the flying and recovering characteristics significantly since this can be compared to a little wing within a whirlpool not having enough weight to keep it open perfectly (in certain conditions).

TIP 10: Choose a paramotor within the apropriate weight range.

As gliders, paramotors are also designed for a specific weight range. This has mainly to do with the thrust a motor can push. To much thrust is very dangerous, because the angle of attack may become to high, which may result in stalls.
The thrust of a motor depends on several factors:

Never fly a paramotor which is outside of your weight range, this can be very dangerous, especially if you are a beginner pilot and are not used to how the motor will react when giving full throttle. A lot of people have fallen out of the sky just because they didn't understand the power of the engine. If you do not understand the power of the engine you might potentially get into a twist, which you do not want.

This text is not meant to be a training, it gives you some points of discussions you should have with your instructor or the guys selling you the equipment. These points are important to consider when buying or flying with certain equipment.
Some topics within this text are definitly up for discussion, but then again this is what it is all about. Talk about it.