Dan’s “Learning to Fly” Story

Dan Provenzano, age 44 from Land O Lakes, Fl.

13 years ago I saw a powered paramotor fly over my house in North Carolina – I immediately thought that one day I would have to do it, I only wish that I would have pursued it sooner! I’ve always enjoyed adventure sports – scuba, motorcycle racing, rock climbing, mt biking, water skiing, etc. The feeling you get from accomplishing personal goals in those sports always provided me a lot of satisfaction. Fast forward to 2015, I relocated to Tampa, FL which is a 180 from rural NC. I soon realized that enjoying my motorcycle was more stressful & dangerous than it was worth in the Tampa area traffic and decided to exit the sport. A short time later I began researching powered paramotoring options in FL. To my surprise there seemed to be many options and the sport had some traction here. I made some phone calls to various instructors and then followed up on an invite to Aviator PPG in Lake Wales, FL.

I met Eric and his brother James, as well as their family – and immediately felt very much welcomed. I spent most of the day being introduced to the sport on a very personal level. Eric showed me how to kite a wing and discussed training options. Although I wasn’t ready to commit to the sport just yet, I continued to research it by reading and watching videos. I stayed in touch with Eric the next few months (through which he never pressured me to train, just encouraged J ) I again visited Aviator PPG during one of their fly-ins and met a few more folks in the sport. I had the opportunity to speak and learn even more – and watch some flying up close. Hanging out with the people in this sport is already becoming very rewarding and enjoyable!

So finally, this May 2015 I dedicated a week to complete my training. Eric was very accommodating of my desired schedule and made every effort to assist with any question I had.

When I arrived I met Travis and James and headed right out to kiting practice. I enjoyed working with James – the kid has crazy skills and is always fun to be around. He helped me get a good feel for wing control, enough so that we could move on to powered taxis.

The next few days were spent reviewing the syllabus material – learning about air space, weather, risk / reward and hopefully what not to do. When we weren’t reviewing syllabus, we were at the Lake Wales airport in the mornings and early evenings. Aviator PPG has a great selection of equipment – all well taken care of, inspected and ready to fly. I spent a lot of time comparing machines, wings & accessories so when I’m ready to buy I will have the knowledge necessary to make an informed choice.

The airport provides a very open space which is inviting to beginner pilots. On day two I had my first flight – a nervous but exhilarating experience. Eric makes this process quite smooth though, constant radio communication and instruction makes you feel like he’s got you at all times. I never felt un-safe…not even for a second the entire week.

Each day after our flights we downloaded – discussed how we did, what opportunities we had and even reviewed video from our flights – a great way to learn. Winding down and talking about the day was always a good time – like hanging out with your best buds.

As the week came to a close, I logged roughly 15 flights. I progressed to taking off and landing without radio comms (even though it was there if needed), did both high and low level flight, group flying and learned the basics of more advanced wing control.

Overall my experience was very positive. The team at Aviator PPG has one goal in mind – to teach you to fly safely and confidently. They are a constant source of inspiration and admiration for your achievements. I know I have made lifelong friends and will make many more through participation in this sport, and for that I am very thankful.

So if you’re undecided about the sport or which PPG instructor to use, here’s my advice – do it and do it with Aviator PPG. Eric, James and Travis will help you succeed in the most professional and memorable way possible.

Thanks guys!

-Dan Provenzano

Tom’s “Learning to Fly” Story…

Hi my name is Tom Zoldos and I wanted to tell you about my experience of learning to fly Powered Paragliders with Aviator PPG.

I love aviation and I wanted to learn to fly one of these butt fans the first time I saw one. I am a private pilot but haven’t been very active lately – life happens…, but this seemed like a very affordable, safe and exciting way to get back into the sky.

I, like many of you, have watched Tucker Gott fly these things all over New Jersey, out west, Iceland etc., and dreamt of giving this sport a try. In some of his videos Tucker mentioned Aviator PPG as the school where he trained, and said this is who he would recommend when it came to flight training.

I started researching the sport and training and after many hours searching the internet came to the realization that Aviator PPG was the the top school for instruction. I seriously thought about visiting them at one of their two locations in Florida and then …. Covid hit.

I signed up for their email newsletter and to my surprise they announced that they would be taking their training on the road and one of their destinations would be Virginia. I could hardly believe my luck and waited to hear where in Va. they might actually have the class. Turns out it was only going to be about 1.5 hours south of my home. I wasn’t going to take a family vacation this year and Aviator PPG was literally traveling to my back yard so I said I’m in! How could I pass up this opportunity?

So I signed up, then I started getting a little worried because I am almost 50, overweight and haven’t been exercising in quite some time. Would I be able to do this? Would I be able to carry the weight, let alone run with the weight of the paramotor? It also is August in Virginia which is humid and hot as hell. Ah well – let’s give it a go.

The class itself was going to be held in central VA in the middle of nowhere but there would be housing available – and housing at a mansion as a matter of fact – not too shabby, which was owned by a former student of Aviator.

So I committed to the 2 weeks and rolled down to the mansion. The next day it all started with a meet and greet of the other students and the instructors and Eric himself. There were 8 students and 5 or six instructors including Tucker’s good buddy Judson who was interning with Aviator. Needless to say there was a really good instructor to student ratio which was key to getting this right.

I met all the students who had some amazing stories of how they got here and what they were hoping to accomplish. There was one common thread between all of us students – we wanted to train with the best in the business, the gold standard for instruction in the sport – and we all identified Aviator as that school.

Everyone I met both the students and instructors were awesome people all with a passion for aviation. I’ve watched a lot of the videos that Aviator produces and I was always struck by how much joy the instructors get when a student finally takes to the sky. They all seem to be really likable people, that are very knowledgeable about the sport, professional, caring and well… like a family.

So training starts the next day bright and early with ground school and we dive right in. We learned a tremendous amount about the sport, and the equipment and before too long we were kiting the wings and learning ground handling. It was challenging but it was rewarding and it was a lot of fun. After a couple days of doing a lot of cutting and ground handling we had a pretty good feel for the wing and it was onto the tow machine. This was a great opportunity to see how the wing would actually handle in the air and to learn how to flare and land on your feet (hopefully) after your flight. Next we started to learn more about the engine and did simulated flights in their PPG simulator. This was really helpful because it allowed us to experience all the phases of flight that we would encounter soon. I also learned about Radio out procedures in the event that we lost radio contact with our instructor. You basically go through the flight from inflation to taking off to flying around the pattern to coming in for landing to the flare and touchdown.

What became very clear to me was that we were learning all the essential parts of learning to safely fly a powered paraglider in a nice series of steps. These steps were all coming together to form good flying habits, they were essentially building blocks that would allow us to learn how to fly these things while not getting overwhelmed with too much information at one time. It was a methodical approach – one that was well thought out and tailored to our classes’ progression and pace.

So, finally the day arrives where the weather is right the winds are cooperating and we have developed some pretty solid kiting and taxi skills. Slowly but surely a number of students were able to launch and enjoy their first flights around the grass patch. This was an incredible experience – unlike any other flight I have ever encountered. You’re running along you’ve got this wing over your head, the engine roaring behind you pushing you into a run, then a gallop, and then all of a sudden the equipment is very light on your back and with a little bit of pressure on the brakes you slowly lift off the ground and start to rise up into the sky. This was freaking amazing – there’s no windshield in front of you, no fuselage, just you out there in an arm chair in the sky!

I was fortunate enough to get up in the air on a really nice morning where there was a little scud layer of fog. I was able to fly over it and see the golden rays of sunshine hitting it and I was like oh my God this is absolutely stunning – what a beautiful way to start your morning! After a while I noticed some other students were up in the pattern with me and just to be able to see them flying around sharing the same experience as me was so cool!

I can honestly say that all of the preparation for this first flight was wonderful. I wasn’t nervous, I was actually enjoying myself and everything we had rehearsed was exactly what we did during the first flight. The simulator experience led by Mike Brown was really excellent and gave me the confidence I needed to take that first flight.

In fact all of the instructors were top notch – 100%. I really can’t say enough good things about all of them. They were good people they were very dedicated to teaching us to fly in a safe manner. They were some of the finest people I’ve ever met in all honesty. Empathetic, caring, passionate, and dedicated are some of the words I would use to describe the team of instructors. I really enjoyed getting to know every one of them and working with them throughout the class. Eric mentioned that if he has any talent it is assembling a great team of people and that’s exactly what he’s done here.

In summary this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done for myself. I felt guilty at first for taking time for myself and not having a family vacation with my daughter which is what we would normally do during the summer. But actually my 12-year-old said she was very happy for me and she was glad to see me go after something that I’ve wanted to do for such a long time. She actually thought it was pretty cool, so that in itself was worth the price of admission.

David’s Learning to Fly Story

TRAINING DAY 1

October 17, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

The day has finally arrived, I’m headed over to Dunnellon to start my training at Aviator PPG. To say I am excited is an understatement. My head is swimming with so many questions and I am thrilled to receive training from people that are equally excited about this sport.

The day started at 9am. I arrived about 15 minutes early because, well, excited. We all did some initial paperwork – signing our lives away and other indemnification clauses. Grabbed some fresh brewed coffee and then settled in for our initial class session.

Most of the day was spent in the class learning the basics of powered paragliding. That covered terminology, riser anatomy, wing anatomy, and some general flight expectations. Beyond the class discussions, we clipped in, selected our student paramotors, did our hang point setup, and practiced kiting. For lunch, the Aviator PPG crew made us chicken tacos. Damn, those were delicious.

As an added bonus, Tucker and Jacquline were in town and stopped by to visit. I didn’t really get to talk with him and missed an opportunity to get a picture. Next time.

We wrapped up the day with a demo from Eric Farewell, Judson Graham, and Bo Feldman gave us an impromptu demo. The wind wasn’t very cooperative and made it challenging to fly, but these guys managed to give us quite the show.

TRAINING DAY 2

October 18, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

Today was a very tough day, both physically and emotionally. We started early at 7:15am with some ground handling. The wind was a lot better than it was yesterday afternoon. I think it was blowing steady at about 5mph. Enough to get the wings up and do both forward and reverse kiting. I’ve gotten a lot better on the reverse launches but the forward is always easier, which is good since we always take off from the forward position.

We also did a tandem flight on the trike around 8:00am. I’m essentially sitting in small seat between the pilot’s legs with both our feet on a single forward wheel used for steering while on the ground. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I’ve never flown in an ultralight before today. The closest would be a small Cesna plane I flew in Hawaii once. It was super turbulent and I had white knuckles the whole time. I had been anxious about the trike flight all morning. Waking up super early didn’t help things. But this is why I came here, to take training and get into the air.

Judson, one of the instructors, was the pilot. We taxied and got up fairly easily – surprisingly so, these paramotors get up into the air so quickly. I’m not sure how high we went. We were well above the trees. It felt like 200 feet but maybe it was less, maybe it was more. Either way, I had a death grip on the side bars. When Judson asked me to take the brakes to steer, I had to force myself to let go of the bars and reach back to take the brakes. I was petrified to the point it was difficult to follow instruction.

As we turned to the right for the pattern, the wing would roll slightly right and your first instinct is to grab the bar again. I had to fight that feeling to remain in control. Judson did a touch and go, then back up we went. He did a few oscillation maneuvers to demonstrate how to regain control both passively (do nothing, let the wing do its thing) and actively (take control by applying break to one side). Honestly, I was so nervous I had a difficult time following along. There were a few times I couldn’t quite hear or understand what Judson was saying and he had to take control. We did a few s-turns (yikes) to decrease altitude and then came in for a landing.

I’ve spent the entire day reflecting on that experience. While the other students were elated at the experience, I felt uncertain and unsure about myself, my abilities, and whether I will ever be able to fly solo. I had hoped a progressive training program that eases me into the air would help with my fears but I’m not certain that’s happening. Then again, this was only the second day of training. Perhaps more exposure will help. I’m trying not to be bummed at my fearful experience, I remain determined to see this through, but I’m now hesitant and unsure about the outcome.

We wrapped up the day doing the simulator, which gives us the experience of flight without actually flying. You’re sitting in the seat with the motor running and then go through throttle exercises to get a feel for power and comms during flight. Then we walked around with the engine on our back at various throttle intensities to get a feel for leaning back at throttle – trust the thrust to keep you up even when leaning way back. That’s difficult for sure. You have to fight the urge to lean forward so you keep the thrust line pointing back or, better yet, pointing down.

Tomorrow (day 3), we are doing more ground handling and then tow launches. This will give us the experience of flight without the motor. The thrust will be provided by the wench. I’m not sure if we’re doing any more tandem flights right away. Micah, lead instructor, said we will most likely transition to heavy days of classroom lectures since the weather may not be ideal. It’s Florida so we’ll see how the weather plays out.

TRAINING DAY 3

October 19, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

We were supposed to do towing today but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Instead, we opted to do more ground handling. I’m grateful that we did, I spent three hours perfecting forward and reverse launches. i truly believe I’m getting better, especially at reverse launches.

Just the Tip

Finally, focusing on “just the tip” has finally paid off In more than a bad joke. Using the wing tip when ground handling can help keep the wing overhead. This was a game changer today. I use the tip of the wing to gauge where the wing is in relation to the horizon. That made things WAY easier and nearly all my launches went well today. Thanks to Judson Graham for being patient and helping me find my stride.

We broke for a long lunch and resumed early afternoon for some class lecture. We covered airport operation that included how to properly navigate and communicate with and airport. And then we covered weather. The weather is critical since ultralights are susceptible to small changes in weather. Knowing what to look for ensures we are safe.

We had planned to do more ground handling but unfortunately the weather turned bad, so we ended the day and will focus on tomorrow. Depending on the weather, we may try towing again. If not, we may do more ground handling or more class work. We’ll see…

TRAINING DAY 4

October 20, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

I managed to sleep until about 6am, which was about 30 minutes longer than the past few days. Since I got up early, I stopped by Dunkin Donuts to grab some food for everyone. Funny, Micah did the same thing. I guess great minds think alike.

A couple of donuts and a coffee down, we headed out to the field for some ground handling. The wind couldn’t have been better. We did some kiting for about 2 hours. Things went really well. My kiting technique is getting better every day. I am reverse and forward launching and alternating between the two in motion. At one point, I kited the wing back to where I started without losing control.

Around 10am, we headed in for a debrief and then start a bit of class lecture. Todays discussion centered around wing dynamics. We covered the difference between a paragliding wing and a parachute – two very different canopies. We also discussed risers, specifically around how trimmers work, how the speed bar works, and to never pull breaks when trimmers are out and you’re using the speed bar. There are, as with everything, exceptions to that rule but its a good rule to follow.

We broke for lunch, eating as a team at this Greek place not far from the airport. The food was amazeballs. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out this place for a gyro. You won’t be disappointed.

After lunch, we reconvened for more class lecture on airspace. This covers how to navigate airspace based on classes (A, B, C, D, G, and E) as well as things that may prevent access to various airspace due to activities (e.g. president flying in/out, big events) or temporary flight restrictions (TFRs). This was just an introductory class. There is a LOT of information. It will take time and ongoing study to completely understand how to properly navigate the airspace; however, this introductory course will help us avoid getting into trouble. We had planned to do some kiting to wrap the day but we had a downpour hit so we broke for the day.

We’re looking to do more ground handling and class room lecture tomorrow. There’s talk of towing on Friday along with a possible tandem. I’m trying not to think too much about these so I don’t get anxiety ahead of the actual event. Everything depends on the weather. And in Florida, the weather can be difficult to predict.

TRAINING DAY 5

October 21, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

Today was another tough day. Both physically and mentally.

Let’s cover the physical exertion first. We started off with ground handling practice. Unfortunately, the wind was nearly zero and that made wing inflation difficult. We did a lot of running to inflate and maintain stable forward momentum. Worse, there was a little dew on the ground making the wing wet. Each launch was that much more difficult because the wing is heavier as it gets wet. Needless to say, trying to kite in no wind situations (and a slightly wet wing) pretty much sucks. It’s a good thing there’s usually a breeze here in Florida. My leg muscles are burning a bit. It has been many years since I’ve had to move this quickly. Exercise, what’s that?

Honestly, I would compare this training to Marine Corps bootcamp. There is a physical and mental aspect to bootcamp. While I felt the mental aspect was easier to overcome compared to the physical aspect at bootcamp, the opposite seems true compared to the PPG training. Perhaps the physical demand of bootcamp prepared me better for the PPG training. At this point, running and lifting 60-80 pounds on your back is basically the same as bootcamp.

Which bring me to the mental hurdle of PPG training. As I’ve mentioned, I have an irrational fear of heights. I know the equipment is perfectly safe and the risk of injury is extremely remote. However, I get extreme anxiety about flying. And, since the wind was so light, the instructors opted to send us on another tandem flight this morning. That’s right. More air time. In fact, the image above is a picture of me precariously perched on the front of the tandem trike as we do a touch-and-go. Here’s where the mental difficulty kicks into overdrive. As the last student to go up, I watched all the other students take to the air. Their apprehensive excitement clear on their faces. And I watched as they got smaller moving high into the sky.

I was super excited to get back to a tandem flight. My thought was that I would be more prepared since we did a tandem flight already. This time, I told myself, I will be calm and embrace the activity. Well, that went out the window as I was next on deck to take flight. I put on my brave face, settled into the seat, buckled up, and prepared myself for our launch into the sky. A few bumpy feet and we are in the air.

Oddly enough, I was perfectly calm and enjoyed the initial take off. We were about 20-50 feet off the ground as we banked to the left to start our flight circuit. I thought, hey, here we are off the ground and I’m not scared. I’m actually enjoying the flight!

Then Micah increased our altitude to somewhere around 100-300 feet. This is where panic started. Since the air was bumpy, Micah maintained control rather than having me steer the wing. Instead, he suggested I enjoy the flight. The view was amazing. While I was certainly uncomfortable at that height, you cannot beat that view – you can see for miles in every direction. There was even a small fire in the distance and the smoke smell reminded me of the fall/winter season.

We made a few circuits and then came in for a landing. As we descended down to around 50 feet, my anxiety subsided and I felt comfortable – dare I say, I enjoyed the last leg of flight before landing. I am left with a feeling of being extremely bummed that I have yet to conquer my fear. The rest of the day I have felt depressed. Am I ever going to get over this fear? Do I have the fortitude to continue? Will I ever be able to enjoy flying? Is this the right sport for me? I’ve put so much of myself into this sport before I even know the sport existed. It pains me to think I won’t be able to continue because of something in my head.

We wrapped up the morning with a lesson by Judson on how to detangle our wing lines. It started to rain so we ended the training for the day. Micah gave us the day off from training tomorrow. The plan is to pick back up Friday morning at 7am sharp for towing and, depending on the weather, our first solo flights on Saturday. It’s possible I will have a breakthrough moment when we do our solo flights. I will be in control and hopefully that will provide more confidence. Exposure to heights over repetition is also supposed to help people get over their fear. I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I’m going to try and relax tomorrow and take a mental break.

As an aside, we got to see a few parachute activities at the airport. I think these guys were doing static line jumps. I took a picture of one of them as they descended to the ground. This is a good example to describe the difference between a paraglider and a parachute. As you can see from the picture, a parachute is used to slow the descent but is, for the most part, less about flying. Conversely, a paraglider wing is an airfoil and provides lift as it moves through the air.

TRAINING DAY 6

October 23, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

The day of towing is here. We all arrived at the airport around 6:45am. There’s a very gentle breeze of 2-4mph coming from the North East. There are a few clouds, but generally it is clear skies. This is what they call a “perfect” day. All of us are extremely excited to take to the sky. While we don’t have the paramotor on our backs, this marks the first time we’ll be taking the controls from launch to landing. It is a precursor to our actual solo flights. To summarize, this is a big deal.

All of the students get ready. I was the last to go up. That gave me an opportunity to watch and learn from my predecessors. Here is where all the work we’ve been putting in to do ground handling is paying off. Keeping the wing under control while we line up for launch ensures we get into the air quickly – that means less running and a better flight.

My turn nears and I lay out the 30 meter wing. I  and hand kite to check and clear the lines. This is the first time I’ve used a 30 meter wing – it is huge! I put on the tow harness and ensure “all the furniture is in the center of the room.” Don’t want my man bits getting pinched when the harness gets high and tight.

I clip the wing into the harness and the instructor attaches the tow line. I check my carabiners, take the brakes into hand, ensure things are clear to the pulley, grab the A’s, find the wing center, take a step back, comms check, and then I take a few deep breaths. Ready to go.

As I run forward to bring up the wing, I get my introduction to this large wing. It took a bit of effort to get that wing overhead but with a little effort, the wing goes straight up. The tow winch tightens the line as I run and, within a few feet, I can feel myself get lighter and leave the ground. Within a few seconds, I’m up around 50 feet and floating along. Hands are up near my ears and I’m enjoying the brief ride.

The winch is turned off. The wing flies level for a moment as it loses momentum. It dips forward slightly to regain power and swoops slightly as the ground nears. That swoop a little unnerving at first but there’s no time to think about it. In later flights, this swooping feeling is less frightening. You get used to it pretty quickly.

As I near the end of the flight, I hear Judson call out, “hands up” and then I wait for the next commands. Nothing yet. Ground is getting closer. Still nothing on comms. And then I hit the ground and slide on my knees. Apparently, comms had cut out and I was unable to hear the flare commands. Thankfully, I didn’t completely face plant. The only thing hurt was my pride from a less-than-stellar landing. We all laugh a bit as I gather up the wing and head back for my next attempt. No harm done.

We repeat the setup for my second and third attempt and take to the sky. This time, comms is working perfectly. On my second and third tow attempt, I land perfectly. Hitting the ground softly as I flare. I run slightly as my feet meet the ground, turn, and kite the wing properly to the ground. In my excitement I gave Judson a high-five. I gather up the wing and walked back to the starting point with a smile that must’ve gone from ear-to-ear.

Today was amazing. For the first time, I felt confident and happy with my progress. Yes, we only went up about 50 feet, but I was comfortable being in the air. I believe that, with time and exposure to higher altitudes, there’s a good chance I can ease myself into going higher with confidence and comfort. If so, then I can absolutely see myself enjoying this sport. The real test will be when we do our first solo flights under power. That should be in the next day or two, which will be the true test of whether this is the sport for me. For now, I will relish in the fact that I got into the air and enjoyed myself. A feat I didn’t think possible with my fear.

Similar to the last blog, we were honored with a paratrooper static line drop display from a DC-3 (I think). This was an actual plane flown during D-Day. Only one of two still in service today. We were even invited inside to look around. Nope, definitely don’t want to do this anytime soon. Check out these awesome pictures …

TRAINING DAY 7

October 24, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

Today, October 24, 2020, I shed my earthly ties, ran forward into the wind, and took to the skies. That’s right, we took our first solo flights today.

The day started off as it normally does with a beautiful sunrise. We setup to do some taxi practice. Taxi practice involves putting the motor on our back and kiting. However, if both us and the instructor feel comfortable and confident, they will tell us to roll on power and take off into the air.

Bob, Jared, and Nate (the other students with me), all made it up into the air on their second taxi attempt. An amazing accomplishment paid by long days of practice. Nate was first into the air, followed by Bob, and then Jared. I couldn’t be more proud of my fellow classmates.

Next up was me on a 28 meter wing. I was sharing a wing with Jared so I had to wait. That worked out as it gave me more time to mellow out my nerves. As I geared up, Micah warmed up the paramotor. I then hefted that big butt fan onto my back. I believed myself to be mentally ready. After all, I was super happy with my towing practice the day before.

we laid out the wing and clipped into my harness. Did my preflight checks – legs, waist, chest, and chin straps were all good to go. My carabiners were locked. Brakes clear to pulley. I grabbed the As. Chest out. Find the center tension on the wing. Two steps back. Deep breath. And on command I started my forward run. The wing rose into the air.

Unfortunately, the first attempt failed and the wing came back down. Too much breaks and not enough forward momentum. It’s not easy running with 60+ pounds on your back. Micah helped me reset the wing for my second attempt to taxi.

On the second attempt, the wing came up perfectly. I glanced left to check the wing was up over my head in a good position. Micah’s voice came over the radio – roll on a bit more power. And then, more power. As I continued my forward progress, the steps became lighter and eventually I was running on just the tips of the grass and then just the air. At full power, the wing climbed and the ground dropped away. I was flying!

I continued to climb and stowed my right brake so I can scoot the seat forward to get more comfortable. As I continued to climb, I could feel my panic begin to grow. I tried to focus on the commands coming over the headset. Then the wing started to oscillate and I was unable to return to a stable flight. This increased my panic and I struggled to maintain altitude. Next, the wind made me crab – flying sideways even though I was pointing forward. All these things fed into my panic and turning what should have been an exhilarating flight into a terrifying ordeal.

As I turned for the final leg, I lined up for landing. At about 100 feet, I came out of my seat. At about 75 feet, I reduced power. The ground was rising fast – yikes. I listed to Micah and tried to maintain control without the instinctual pulling of the breaks. I think I did ok but I did flare a little hard a tad early causing me to ballon up and then right back down landing squarely on my feet. Sadly, this also meant that the entire weight of the paramotor was instantly present and I dropped to a knee under the weight. Not the most elegant landing but at least it wasn’t a butt landing or, worse, a face plant.

I was a bit shaken from the first flight. I just did not feel like I had been in control at all during that flight. Yes, I managed to steer the wing in the general direction I wanted to go but it felt like I was pulling right break the entire time. Worse, I expected to have been more comfortable in the air by this point. I had done two tandems, a tow, and now a solo flight. All of which were at a decent altitude.

With so much going on in my head, I opted to pass on additional flights that morning while I processed everything I experienced. Emotions were definitely high. Keep in mind, this has been something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid and have been planning in earnest for more than a year. Hitting a brick wall in my head deflated me emotionally.

We wrapped up the rest of the morning with our usual debrief. We watched the videos we had taken of each other to critique our flights. We pointed out the good, the bad, and the ugly. While I wasn’t happy with my progress, we all managed to make it into the air. To commemorate this monumental occasion, we were each given a coin. A tradition to signify that we had taken our first solo flight. This may not mean much to most people, but to me, it was a special token that I will always have to remember this experience.

We broke for lunch and I headed out. I spent the rest of the day thinking about my experience. Specifically, whether it makes sense for me to continue pushing myself into the sky given my ongoing anxiety with flying. On the one hand, I’m not a quitter. It’s just not something I want to do. On the other hand, I keep hitting this mental wall and it is highly unlikely I will ever be able to get into the air comfortably.

When I got back to training, I spoke with Micah and described my concerns. I wanted to try again before making any decisions since the first flight is always a little sketch for students. Micah swapped out wings to a 30 meter. The larger wing would help prevent the oscillations. I setup for another run, clipped in, did my checks, and then ran into the wind. That big ass boat of a wing went up and I rolled on power. Just like before, I climbed up into the sky and the ground fell away.

The flight wasn’t much better in terms of anxiety, but the oscillations weren’t as bad. I still had issues with the height, but we had a lot more area to fly since the airport wasn’t as busy in the evening. Micah set me up for a long landing path – straight and high enough to provide small adjustments on approach. At 100 feet, out of the seat. At 75 I rolled off power. At about 50 feet, I cut the engine. Pulled breaks slightly and then, as the ground rushed up, I applied pressure. I managed to land upright on and my feet. I ran forward, turned, and kited the wing to the ground. Successful landing. Admittedly, that felt a lot better than the morning session.

Micah ran over and we celebrated another victory against my fears and anxiety. I don’t feel better about flying but I also don’t feel good about quitting. I told Micah I would come back again for Training Day 8 and continue to try to push through my mental wall. It is unlikely I will ever get past this fear. But I can say that I tried and perhaps that’s good enough.

For now, I will focus on my successful accomplishments of the day.

TRAINING DAY 8
October 25, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

A new day of PPG training brings a new promise of facing my fear and advancing my skill as a pilot (not necessarily in that order). The day started off at 7:30am with a bit of early morning fog. We had to wait around for the sun to burn off the fog so we could take off. As PPG pilots, especially new ones, we are not allowed to fly when there is ground cover. By around 8:30am, the fog had mostly evaporated.

We headed out to the field and started laying out our wings. With no wind, there would be a lot of effort expended to get those wings up high over our heads. Since I’m flying with the 30 meter, we opted to wait a little bit longer for some wind to pick up. It would have been a lot of running to get all that wing into the air.

Around 9am, I put that butt fan on my back and hooked into the wing. Deep breath. Off we go with a run and, once that wing was up, I rolled on power. Running until the ground fell away. This first morning flight marks my fourth venture into the sky as a solo flight. Today, Micah had me practice weight shifting to make turns. I stowed the breaks and held onto the risers as I used my weight to lean into a turn. Letting go of those brakes took a great deal of effort. Then there’s the lean – essentially looking way down to the ground as I use my weight to get the wing to turn.

Honestly, the weight shifting was kind of fun once you get past the fear of falling out of the chair at 500 feet. I made a few right-hand pattern turns around the airfield and then setup for a landing. Micah had me start far and high to line up for my landing. At 100 feet, out of the seat. At 75 feet, power off. At about 10 feet I start to apply brake pressure and then, around 6 feet, I apply full breaks and feel the ground meet my feet. Run, run, run – turn and kite the wing to the ground. Awesome flight. Awesome landing.

I setup for my next flight. The wind changed so we needed to head into a new direction. I started to run forward but the wing was rolling left. I glanced to the left and pulled right brake to get the wing back overhead. Then, BAM – I stepped into a turtle hold and crumpled to the ground. I got up and had a huge knot on my shin. I was tempted to try again but Micah was worried I might be hyped on adrenaline and not aware of a serious injury. I agreed and dismounted from the wing. I went back to the hanger to ice my leg. That was the end of flying for the morning.

After lunch and back at the hanger for training, my leg was feeling better. It may have a nice bruise but that’s not going to prevent me from trying again. The wind had picked up by the evening making it a lot easier to get that big wing up. I setup and hooked in ready for my next solo attempt. Micah did a quick inspection and then I was off running into the wind. Up I went fairly easily. I did a couple of laps using our usual right-hand pattern and then Micah lined me up for a landing. I came dropped in, applied breaks, flared, and landed on my feet, running forward until I kited the wing down. We did two more flights before wrapping for the day.

In total, I’ve done six solo flights. While my fear is still very much present, I am starting to feel more comfortable and confident in the air. I believe we hit a new altitude record of 500 feet today. The larger wing definitely helps – it plows through rough air and has nearly no oscillation. I’m closing out the day on a positive note and feeling great about where I am in my progress. A special thanks to Micah for talking me off the ledge and encouraging me to keep going in the training even though my fear made me want to drop out. He’s been extremely supportive and talks to me while I fly helping to keep my mind off the fear. I will be forever grateful to the folks at Aviator PPG for helping me achieve a lifelong dream.

TRAINING DAY 9
October 26, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

The morning started off around 7:15am with a bit of fog. That’s likely to be an ongoing theme this time of year in Florida. High humidity and cooler temps in the morning. While it sure is pretty, that fog prevents us from taking off. We end up waiting around for the sun to burn off or the wind to blow out the fog. Around 8am, the fog had lifted enough for us to head out to the field and setup to send it.

Two students went up but a second fog rolled in about 20 feet off the ground. While the students were above and could see the ground and had 1 mile of visibility (required for ultralights), the instructors were having a difficult time seeing the students to call out maneuvers. At that point, the Judson and Micah had the guys come back down and wait out the second fog.

Around 8:45am, the second fog had mostly dissipated and we all setup to get into the air. I was first up and launched into the wind. Climbing to about 200-300 feet and starting my right-hand pattern around the airfield. There was still a slight bit of fog I flew through. It was surreal…and a bit bumpy.

I came in for a landing and brought it down. Unfortunately, I slipped on the wet grass. Not my most graceful of landings but I still didn’t land on my butt or face. That’s a win.

Back on the ground, I setup for my next flight but the wing didn’t cooperate. It rolled to the side and came back down. Micah helped me get the wing sorted and I tried again. Launched into the wind and climbed right up into the air. I focused on using weight shifting to improve my turning.

Coming around, I lined up for a landing. This time, Micah had me try a touch-n-go. I came down with the motor at idle but still on, applied break pressure, touched the ground and started running. Once the wing stabilized back over head, Micah had me roll on power. The ground started to drop away and I was back up again. My first touch-n-go landing was a success. Amazing!

Back up into the sky. The wind was picking up and, with the sun climbing, the thermals were beginning to stir. Micah said. “that’s Mother Nature telling you it’s time to come down.” I lined up for my final landing. I came back down but was a bit off on my braking so didn’t come down quite as graceful as I had wanted. I need to continue practicing my landing technique. Gauging when to pull brakes to get the landings just right is a tough skill to learn but with more time, I’m sure we’ll get there. That wrapped up our morning session and we broke for lunch around 10:30am.

Back at the airfield at 4:50pm and ready for the afternoon session. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t cooperating. Winds are 10mph at the ground and gusting 15+mph a few hundred feet up. A bit too rough for this newbie. We did some kiting practice, which is a LOT easier now that we’ve spent so much time practicing. Prior to training, I couldn’t kite at all in these kinds of winds. Now, I was able to kite with the Roadrunner wing without issue. In fact, I can even stand still and steer the wing overhead. Not too shabby.

That concludes training day nine. Looking forward to training day ten tomorrow.

TRAINING DAY 10
October 27, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

True to form, Florida weather has proven difficult yet again. We arrived at 7:30am with no fog but steady winds of 10mph at ground level and gusting 15+mph at 200-300 feet. Micah went up to check the air and ended up parked around 1000 feet. When he turned with a tailwind, his ground speed was incredibly fast. Needless to say, it was not student friendly. Unfortunately, the rest of the week is looking to be the same or worse. That means our last window for flights might be this evening if the wind calms down. We broke for lunch and will reconvene at 3pm for the remaining class modules and will call the shot for flights depending on the weather.

We reconvened at 3pm to do more class room lecture. Today was on safety. This is saved for last to prevent scaring the crap out of students. Some of the videos definitely create anxiety. The higher altitude issues, especially those requiring a reserve, give pause to anyone looking to leave and jump straight into crazy antics. Well, at least those students without a death wish. Needless to say, I can see why the safety class is saved for the end of training.

As our last exercise, we practiced a reserve toss. This involves implementing the “OODA” loop; Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. During an incident where you believe the main wing is fouled to the point of no return, you need to think and react. Kill the power, stow the breaks, visually locate the reserve handle, pull, and toss to clear air. Next, you want to pull in the main wing to prevent re-inflation or getting in the way of the reserve. You then want to get into position to drop to the ground by putting your feet together and slightly bend your knees. All of this seems like a lot to accomplish when you’re literally falling through the air. Hopefully I am never in a situation where this needs to be executed.

Unfortunately, a storm rolled in and squashed any hope of doing flights this evening. It doesn’t look like there will be further opportunities for flight between now and Friday. We all agreed to come in tomorrow morning at 7:45am in the hopes of an early morning flight. If not, we’ll use that time to answer any last minute questions and say farewell to each other as we leave to return to normal life.

Check out this scary cloud formation…

TRAINING DAY 11 (THE END?)
October 28, 2020|Paramotor, PPG, Training

My alarm clock went off at 5:45am. Ugh, it is so early and I ache in all sorts of places. But there is a chance of an early morning flight. Time to get up and get ready.

We’ve been bringing in donuts a few times for the team. I decided to get something special on what is likely our last day of training. I stopped by Dunkin and grabbed a bunch of egg, bacon, cheese, English muffin sandwiches for the team (plus a few for my parents who have put up with my crazy schedule for the past two weeks).

Barely getting down a few gulps of coffee, it was time to roll out to the field. The weather was looking promising. A light fog was floating around 100 feet but that didn’t seem to deter anyone.

We laid out our wings on the damp ground. Did our preflight checks. Warmed up the engines. Clipped in and performed prelaunch checks. Then it was go time. We all took turns heading into the sky.

With the fog as our ceiling around 300 feet, we flew low around 200 feet. We setup to performed our usual right-hand pattern around the airfield. I wanted to practice my take off and landings so I came down and did my touch-n-go a few times. I landed awkward on one so went ahead and stopped so I could reset. I think that was about five flights putting me at fourteen total flights.

Micah had me swap out my Mojo 30 meter for the 26 meter Spyder 3. This was the wing I had planned to buy. Getting to fly it here at training would give me an idea of what to expect under Micah’s mentorship. The wing came up much easier but I did have to run a little further than with the Mojo. Micah had told me that I would need to pull a little brake to get up easier than I had been doing with the Mojo.

As I run forward, I checked my wing tips to ensure we were good and started to roll on power. Pulling a small amount of brake, the steps got lighter and eventually, the ground dropped away.

The Spyder definitely has a different flight dynamic than the Mojo. Turns seemed more deliberate with a tad more roll. The air was getting a bit bumpy so we opted to bring it in for a landing and call it a day. As I came in for the landing, I got out of my seat and used weight shifting and a very small amount of break pressure to line up. At about 6-8 feet, I applied breaks to my shoulders. This caused the Spyder to swoop slightly and level off at about 4 feet above the ground. I then pulled breaks down to my seat and stepped back onto the ground. I was overly excited and spun too soon rather than running and kiting the wing down. But it was a good final flight for my training adventure.

Afterwards, I spoke with Micah and we both agreed. If I do buy the Spyder, it would probably be best to get the 28 meter as that matches my current skill level and flying style. That is to say, I’m partial to slower flying right now. Perhaps in the future I can work my way down to smaller and faster wings.

We cleaned up, stowed our wings, did a wipe down to check over the paramotor, and headed back to the hanger for our usual debrief. I was talking to my wingman, Bob Hicks, about our adventure. Both of us were happy with the decision to attend Aviator PPG. Bob had been a great teammate throughout all of this journey. He aptly noted, this is like going swimming – it’s cold at first, but as you continue in, you get used to the temperature and start enjoying the experience. In a similar way, we launched ourselves into the sky and over time, we started to enjoy flying.

This has been a monumental accomplishment in my life. Something I thought out of reach for many years. While I may still have some trepidation about flying, this is certainly a sport I could see myself continuing. In that regard, this may be the end of training but may not be the end of my journey.

I am forever grateful to my wife for supporting this crazy idea, my family and teammates for their support, and the incredible mentorship from Micah and Judson with Aviator PPG. I will always remember this experience and encourage others to follow their dreams.

Fun Places to Fly PPG in the Eastern United States

Since we at Aviator Paramotor believe the spirit of adventure and flight go hand-in-hand, what better way to explore the Americas than by flying your paramotor over some of its spectacular landscapes? The eastern portion of the United States offers a diverse, breath-taking variety – from the beaches of Florida and other coastal states throughout the valleys and mountainous regions that wind northward, which also play host to some truly marvelous manmade wonders. There’s so much that can be experienced by pilots and adventure seekers alike. For the pursuit of flight and exploring the world around us, adventure flying is yet another side of what makes the sport of PPG all the more exciting.

So, while there are countless locations worth seeing, here’s a small list of fun places to fly PPG in the eastern United States. What could be better than experiencing your world from the skies? Hopefully these locations will inspire you to see more of the world by air, and research even more places to adventure fly!

SOAR VALLEYS AND GORGES WITH YOUR PARAMOTOR

Of course there are several valleys and gorges that would be well worth your time, however here are two unique places that are spectacular from the ground – so we know they’re gorgeous from above: The Tunkhannock Viaduct/Nicholson Bridge in Nicholson, Pennsylvania, and the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

The Nicholson Bridge spans well over 2,000 feet, and hosts 12 massive concrete, steel-enforced arches that tower mightily over a forest of trees below. Constructed between 1912-1915, this segment of the Norfolk Southern Railway Sunbury Line makes for a gorgeous place to fly over.

New River Gorge Bridge, a 1970s constructed steel marvel, sits amidst the Appalachian Mountain Range. Overlooking the New River at 876 feet, it is classified as one of the highest vehicular bridges in the world – and promises some stunning views!

New River Gorge Bridge/Ashley Knedler via Unsplash

FOLLOW THE EASTERN MOUNTAIN RANGES FLYING

The Appalachians, one of the eastern United States’ most famous mountain ranges, run all the way from Georgia to the tip of the country in Maine. While it challenges thousands of hikers annually, it also promises spectacular views for pilots. Not only that but it also hosts a smaller province known as the Blue Ridge Mountains which run 550 miles southwest from southern Pennsylvania through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Blue Ridge Mountains/Wes Hicks via Unsplash

There are countless places along this range for PPG pilots to explore. Whether you want to tackle the whole of the mountain ranges, or simply visit what’s closest to you, there’s a massive range of possibilities (no pun intended).

Please note that mountain flying is recommended for more experienced pilots because of the dangers they pose.

SEE WINDING RIVERS BOTH NORTH AND SOUTH FROM THE SKY

There are several bodies of water that warrant a bird’s eye view, however two locations you could consider flying your paramotor over are the Hudson River, which runs through New York, and the Tennessee River, which I’m sure you know, runs through Tennessee. Both of these rivers offer beyond beautiful views.

The Hudson River, which originates in the Adirondack Mountains flows north to south for over 300 miles across the state of New York, and encompasses a diversity of landscapes, waterfalls, and more to thrill the senses.

The Tennessee River is the biggest tributary of the Ohio River and actually rolls southward into Alabama treading about 652 miles. Flying by paramotor over the river promises views of mountainous regions, valleys, and other lovely landscapes as it steadily winds its way between the evergreens and hardwoods of the two states.

Tennessee River at Signal Mountain/Zeke Tucker via Unsplash

PPG THE COASTLANDS AND OUTER BANKS OF NORTH CAROLINA

The eastern coast, winding from the tips of Florida to Maine and hugged by the Atlantic, promise location after location for beach flights and swampland overviews. But, in thinking about where flight originated, consider taking a trip to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and soar its surrounding Outer Banks. We couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute to the Wright Brothers – two of our patron saints of flight – than by making a pilgrimage to where it all began.

Outer Banks/Timothy Klingler via Unsplash

The Outer Banks, which sit on a thin sliver of land at the most outward edge of North Carolina in Currituck County promise beautiful sunset views and ocean breezes, plus there’s that added adventurous spirit still resident from the envisioned Orville and Wilbur.

Of course, be sure to take into account added safety precautions because of the nature of flying near strong bodies of water like oceans.

HAVE FUN, EXPLORE, FLY PARAMOTORS EVEN MORE

Endeavoring to go where few have gone before is a part of what makes flying paramotors special. Adventure flights at locations both familiar and unique open up your world all the more because of the perspective they bring. Only remember to stay safe, consider each location for what it is and how you should approach flying around it, and get ready to have the time of your life. Do your due diligence and seek out the proper, legal places to launch, land, and fly around and you’ll have a sincerely full, rich experience.

Take advantage of being able to fly, to see the world in a way most people never will, grab your paramotor, and go – we’ll can’t wait to see you in the skies!

For more traveling fun, check Aviator Paramotor’s Youtube channel Aviator Show for more adventure flights in the U.S. and abroad.

Why Kiting is the Foundation of PPG, Plus Practical Kiting Tips

While a lot of components are involved in learning to fly a powered paraglider, kiting is the foundation of the sport. Honing in those crucial ground handling skills is undoubtedly one of the biggest keys to finding success. This means spending a significant amount of time learning how to kite is in order, not only that, but even when you’ve successfully learned how to fly your paramotor continuing to kite and keep those needed ground handling skills proficient is truly one of the biggest secrets to becoming an excellent pilot. Ask any of the professionals, they’ll tell you time and again to kite, kite, and then kite some more, because that’s exactly what they do to stay sharp and progress further in the sport.

As we mentioned, ground handling is the foundation, and only one of the first steps in learning to fly – so much more is involved in PPG – but mastering kiting is a must. That being said, get training to fly a paramotor. Just because you’ve learned how to kite, and kite well, does not negate actual instruction from a professional. Whether you’re training with us at Aviator Paramotor or someone else, definitely seek out help. The black truth is that paramotoring without instruction could kill you, but when properly trained it has the potential to be one of the greatest experiences of your life. Don’t take training for granted.

Keep reading to learn more about why kiting is the foundation of PPG with the following practical tips.

YOUR MENTAL STATE AND ATTITUDE ARE EVERYTHING

Just like with flying, your mental state and attitude start on the ground. Having this type of awareness is crucial – paramotoring is most certainly a mental game. Kiting is no exception. Not only for your safety, but also for the safety of others. Understanding where you stand mentally and emotionally is a complete game changer. 

Are you in good spirits, ready to seize the day and take on new challenges? Are you comfortable practicing kiting with a positive attitude? Then go kite!

Or, are you feeling a bit out of? Not quite yourself, possibly angry, sad, or upset for some reason? If so, then consider waiting until you feel more like yourself.

When you aren’t in the right headspace it means your reasoning and rational are hindered, which also means you could make some truly poor decisions. Those poor decisions could lead to mistakes, both big and small. You could damage your gear and ultimately endanger yourself and others.

For flying, and yes, even ground handling, one of the biggest tips for success is knowing yourself well enough to say, “you know what, I’m not okay right now, I shouldn’t be doing this.” Take a step back, regroup, and try again later – there’s no shame in taking this type of precaution.

We’ll explain further why having a positive headspace is important as you continue to read.

LET THE WING LEAD YOU, IT’S ABOUT FEELING AND INNATENESS

With kiting it’s going to come down to practicing, practicing, and, oh yeah, practicing even more. In doing so you familiarize yourself with the wing. While you’re in control, let the wing lead you. The art of ground handling is allowing yourself to feel the wing’s subtle tugs, and then maneuvering yourself accordingly to keep it steadily overhead. Don’t fight to pull the glider where you want it to go, but instead cultivate the needed skills to shift it naturally, letting the wing do the heavy lifting.

It sounds a bit strange, but “becoming one” with your glider is yet another crucial key to success. Treat the wing as you would a dance partner and move with it. Developing an innate sense of how your wing moves is the ultimate secret to successful ground handling.

The more you pursue this skill, the more it will become second nature to you, and before long you’ll be able to predict which way your wing will move according to your own steps, along with the wind and its movements. As you begin to master kiting, you’ll learn how to direct and redirect the wing as needed and with certain ease.

FIND A SAFE LOCATION TO PRACTICE

As always, safety is key in the sport of PPG, and most certainly in kiting. When it comes to actually practicing, picking a prime location is important. You’ll want to find as much open space as possible to lessen the likelihood of an accident, not to mention you’ll want a lot of room to run and, no pun intended, spread your wings for that practice. Avoid areas that have a lot of trees, bushes, and the like. If you’re in a city, avoid overly crowded places, and search out as open a space as you can possibly find. Perhaps you’re able to use a local ball field, if so, check to see if its overly crowded with bleachers, power lines, and other obstructions.

Also consider things like, is there a road nearby? What are the odds your glider might fall into it and cause an accident? Are there too many people around? Maybe your huge wing will make them nervous. 

Possible good locations could be your local municipal airport. Because that’s considered public, you technically have the right to fly there (although it’s best to build up good relationships and ask for permission), and people EXPECT to see things flying around. You can also use available space there for kiting. Also look for wide open fields and other clear spaces.

Because we want to further the sport of PPG, always consider your surroundings and how it may effect the people around you too. Doing our part to keep up a positive reputation is important.

This is also where having a clear head is crucial, because if you’re upset or simply feeling off, you’re likelihood of making good decisions has decreased significantly. Anything could happen, which is why having a good attitude and knowing you’re in the right headspace is non-negotiable. You might hit a power line or end up in the road because you thought you could “handle” the space you’re in, even though you weren’t feeling 100%.

ALWAYS CONSIDER WIND AND WEATHER CONDITIONS

While its true that in times when it’s unsafe to fly a paramotor you can still kite, even then there are still limits depending on your level of expertise. So, learning about weather and wind patterns is a huge key to successful ground handling.

Maybe you have a nice, long field to practice in, but it’s lined with trees on the shorter sides. If the wind is blowing/gusting toward the trees that long field won’t do you much good.

On top of knowing which way the wind is blowing, also knowing just how strong it is, and how strong it’s gusting could also mean avoiding some serious injuries. The gust factor is often more crucial than just the steady state wind. A strong unexpected gust has the potential to cause harm.

Make note of additional rotor or mechanical turbulence – that is the air that rolls over any objects surrounding you like trees, buildings, power poles, etc. That turbulence will also affect you adversely, it could knock you into things or send you sailing in directions you don’t intend, which could also lead to accident or injury.

Crafting a certain forte for forecasting is integral to the sport of PPG. Looking at not only the immediate weather – in the time frame you wish to kite in – is important, but so is the forecast for the rest of the day. Bad weather could strike out of no where, or even arrive earlier than expected, so being conscientious and possibly deciding not to kite on a day where rougher conditions are forecasted is smart.

Again, having that clear headspace is also important. Make sure you’re kiting in conditions you’re able to handle. Listen to your gut, if something feels off or wrong, always choose to wait until situations improve.

While so much more could be said about the importance of kiting, the how-tos, and mechanics involved, hopefully this has inspired you. Maybe it’s kindled an even bigger fire to pursue paramotoring. It’s a truly intricate, demanding sport, but mastering the art form of this type of flight is beyond rewarding for those willing. It’s suited to all types of people, from all walks of life, and the possibilities for exploration are endless. You simply have to build it from the ground up.

Powerfloats – Don’t Fly Without This Safety Device!

Aside from a reserve parachute, if there’s one other safety accessory that we can’t recommend enough it’s the Powerfloat. Just as the name gives away, the Powerfloat is a floatation device specifically crafted for paramotors, ultra lights, hang gliders, and other similar aircraft. Statistically, water presents a paramotor pilot with their deadliest threat. Many might think that ground crashes are higher, but it is actually water-related incidents that are the culprit. It’s important to understand that it is deceptively hard to free yourself from lines, soaking harnesses, and heavy metal components, all in the chaos of an unintended landing.

While you might be thinking, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll never fly over water,’ think again – like moths to a flame, the draw to fly over bodies of water is a natural desire experienced by most pilots. Even if it’s a small winding creek or pond, there’s something about water that entices the senses and almost unnoticeably pulls people in. There’s nothing wrong with it, on the contrary, flying over water is gorgeous and a unique experience in and of itself, but that being said, having this floatation apparatus secured to your paramotor is the safest way to proceed as well as get the most out of those flights.

Powerfloats – don’t fly without this safety device – because it could mean the difference between life and death. It’s a hard truth, but regarding safety, especially in the PPG sport, is the best way to go. Having that added security only enhances flight and lends to enjoyment because you’re actively working to avoid disaster. Being prepared, is undoubtedly, a good thing.

SPECS AND HOW POWERFLOATS WORK

The Powerfloats offered through Aviator come in three different varieties: the Powerfloat 2BeSure (Twin System), 2BeSure XL (Twin System), and in a U-Shape. The 2BeSure models come in a two pack that mount on either side of you and deploy outward, with the XL size having a slightly longer width. The U-Shape comes in the form of a modified u-shaped vest specifically outfitted for a paramotor, making it larger than a normal floatation vest. 

This device is intentionally designed to be lightweight and as unobtrusive as possible, and provides you with a massive element of safety when flying over water.

Powerfloats are additionally crafted to automatically deploy via a Co2 cartridge, as they are triggered upon immersion into water. Because of the auto-activation feature, it allows you crucial time to free yourself from your wing and harness and swim to safety. It’s no underestimation that Powerfloasts are a critical and lifesaving instrument for anyone who goes near water, as many of us do.

Something else to understand about Powerfloats is that these devices also have a five-year working life, and should be replaced within the time frame for safety, along with the Co2 package that activates the inflation. Exposure to moisture in the air affects the package, so it’s also suggested that these pieces be replaced annually if not sooner, depending on the area in which you live and fly.

HOW TO MOUNT POWERFLOATS ONTO YOUR PARAMOTOR

Powerfloats are designed to be mounted to your paramotor in two different ways, so be sure to see our video for more an in-depth tutorial on how to do this properly.

The preferred method at Aviator is attaching a float onto either side of your harness – specifically onto each harness strap that goes over the shoulders. When you mount your floats, the float straps should be looser than the shoulder straps of the harness. If the float straps or too tight, they’ll end up carrying the weight of the paramotor, which could lead to tearing of the float’s holding case. Overall, this does not affect safety, but unnecessary wear and tear should be avoided.

The second option is that you can also mount the floats on either side of the frame, in much the same manner. The downside to this method however, is that it positions the floats slightly lower, meaning they’ll inflate more around your chest area. In attaching the floats onto the harness straps, they’re positioned closer to the head and should better keep your head above water in the event of an accident.

While both methods are proven, definitely take into consideration the different positioning and how it might help you should an emergency ever arise. 

SAFETY ENHANCES FLYING EXPERIENCES

We can’t emphasize this enough, fear not! Again, as our other safety-centric blogs have highlighted, arming yourself with knowledge, skills, and the proper equipment make all the difference – in safety, most certainly, but also in the overall flying experience. Having an awareness of all possible dangers is simply a part of PPG, and for your own edification.

So, on the one hand, being prepared could legitimately mean the difference in life and death, but on the flip side that preparedness also means you have peace of mind. You aren’t weighed down by “what ifs” or fears, but instead you’re perfectly prepared to react should dangers arise. When you have that type of security, flying paramotors becomes that much more enjoyable because you’ve eliminated certain fears. Soar freely knowing you’re safe.

Of course, this is a principle applied to many different areas in life, making it all the more truthful. So, again, fear not, and simply prepare yourself for all circumstance, continue to pursue flight, and love parmotoring all the more.

The Perks of Flying a Paramotor Trike

Once again the PPG sport has shown us just how flexible and adaptable it is to people of all shapes, sizes, and physical capabilities thanks to the beautiful invention of the trike. Just as the name depicts, the trike sits on three wheels, with the paramotor being mounted on the back and a seat situated just in the center. What this apparatus has to offer pilots is outstanding – the perks of flying a paramotor trike not only allow for less wear on the body, but it opens up a whole new world of exciting challenges because of the unique set of skills it requires for operation. 

We’ve outlined a whole list or reasons why we at Aviator Paramotor love it, so enjoy our thoughts on the perks of flying a paramotor trike.

FLYING A TRIKE IS LESS STRESSFUL TO THE BODY

While traditional foot launching has it’s own set of thrills and wonderful challenges, it’s undoubtedly taxing on the body, especially in the beginning stages of learning. You’re expected to run on average with 50+ pounds on your back in the launching process, so obviously the heavy load is wearing to the knees, groin area, and back. Not to mention, it overall fatigues the body until you reach more intermediate/expert levels in your skillset, and even then the normal wear involved in the sport just comes with the territory. Here’s where a trike might be a better option for you.

We love flying paramotors because it quite literally is for a diversity of physical capabilities and body types – add in a trike and even more people are able to fly! One of the greatest perks of flying a paramotor trike is the fact that it eliminates extra stress on the body because you no longer carry the paramotor on your back, instead you sit and let the trike do the work for you. Now you can roll into the sky without any additional strains.

So, if you’ve long dreamed of flying, but maybe have concerns over your on physical abilities, consider learning to fly a trike.

FLYING A TRIKE IS A SPECIAL, UNIQUE SKILLSET TO DEVELOP

Now that you’ve removed the physicality of foot launching, the game is learning the mechanics of operating a trike – which is a very specific skillset that takes time to develop. Our recommendation is to get thorough training for this to optimize your experience, enjoyment, and success. After all, as humans we naturally grow because of things that challenge us.

So, of course, learning the proper skills to operate a trike is focal, but once you do your whole world is opened up to new experiences. Of new ways to take on the skies. Think about it, you’re quite literally driving into the sky. What could be more exciting? It’s all about developing those crucial skills to be successful, which in and of itself is a stimulating challenge. Don’t underestimate this unique skillset and how richly it can alter you as an individual and as a pilot.

Just be patient, take your time, and fully immerse yourself into the learning process. Trust us, the reward that mastering the trike brings is worth it.

NO TO LOW WIND IS NO PROBLEM

Let’s talk about launching, when it comes to getting off the ground the trike is your new best friend on those low wind days. Paramotor pilots understand that those no to low wind days make for some of the most gorgeously smooth flying conditions, but the catch is that launching can be quite a difficult task. It’s a hard tradeoff, but successfully launching means you get to soar through some seriously coveted, prime flying weather.

The perk of flying a trike, again, means it does the physically hard work for you. In this instance, where you’re have to more actively work to launch in low wind conditions on foot (which typically means you have to run, run, run, and then run some more!), the trike is going to better utilize the power produced by the motor. The trike freely rolls you forward, giving you the forward momentum needed to generate lift with that power from the motor coupled the wing inflating overhead, which is something that’s tiring to accomplish when running and with no wind to help you out in the process. This is also where having the proper skills needed to successfully use a trike is crucial.

But for many, not having to sweat for a launch is a God send, and another reason to consider learning to trike.

FOR FOOT LAUNCHERS, IT’S A WELCOMED CHALLENGE

Maybe you’re already well-acquainted with paramotors. Perhaps you started out foot launching, and you’ve grown a lot as a pilot. If you’re looking for a new skill to add to your arsenal, or even if you’re just trying to find more ways to make flying paramotors exciting, consider learning to trike.

If you’re already on the inside of the wonderful world of PPG, expanding your skillset is an excellent way to deepen your love for the sport. Deepen your knowledge base as we already mentioned, sharpen your existing skills, and learn new means of flying too! Another perk of flying a paramotor trike is that it opens up a whole other side to PPG. So, get a new perspective and love flying all the more.

TRIKES ARE INCREDIBLE FOR TANDEM FLIGHTS

Again, while this is directed to seasoned pilots, yet another perk of flying a paramotor trike is the joyous challenge of learning to tandem. After you reach a certain level in flying a trike, and you feel you want to up your skills, you can still go further with tandem flights.

While it’s a big step in not only being responsible for your own life in flying, but the life of someone else, the overwhelming happiness of getting to share flight with others is nearly inexplainable. Truly, there’s nothing quite like that feeling, which lends itself to being one of the ultimate perks of flying a paramotor trike. Seriously, if you know someone who’s reached this level as a pilot, ask them about it sometime.

That brings us to the end of our list, however these are just some of our favorite reasons to fly a paramotor trike. We could go on and on about why we love this particular outlet. Hopefully it’s inspired you to pursue flight all the more. Paramotoring is a diverse, special sport, don’t rule yourself out of experiencing flight until you’ve researched all the options there are, because you my friend can soar through the skies with the rest of them if you’re willing to make the leap.

How to Throw Your Reserve Parachute – A Step By Step Guide

While the idea of even having to throw your reserve parachute isn’t exactly pleasant, being prepared for every situation – even emergencies – is a key part of flying paramotors. Safety in all measures is undoubtedly the wisest way to proceed with just about any “extreme activity,” so of course knowing how to throw your reserve parachute is important (to say the very least) and a part of those pre-flight skills everyone should learn when entering into the sport of PPG. “Keep flying the aircraft” as we like to say at Aviator Paramotor – don’t panic, breath, and equip yourself with the necessary means to correct in-flight accidents. It simply comes with the territory of becoming a pilot, but in doing so you’ll also build confidence and create a better flying atmosphere because you’ve armed yourself with crucial information that could very well save your life.

So, fear not! Grow your skills and love flying paramotors all the more by learning how to throw your reserve parachute. Statistically speaking, you’ll most likely never have to deploy that reserve as accidents and fatalities in general aviation total between 2,000-3,000 annually, with very few PPG related incidents being reported. That being said unforeseeable incidents still happen, so being prepared is beyond important, furthermore that preparedness is likely a large factor in what keeps those PPG related incidents incredibly low on the charts. So, let’s dive in and please reference the instructional video for further clarity.

STEP 1: LOOK, LOCATE YOUR RESERVE, AND PREPARE TO THROW

Typically, your reserve sits inside either a reserve specific pocket or container, which is mounted on the right hand side of your paramotor harness because the throttle is generally held in the left hand. So, first look to see your reserve, and since your right hand is free reach down and locate your reserve handle, firmly gripping it (if inserted correctly it will protrude out of the reserve pocket).

Next, pull the reserve forcefully out of the pocket, keeping that tight grip.

After that, bring the reserve up to to your chest and prepare to throw with as much power as possible (see video).

Aviator Paramotor student pulls reserve chute across chest, ready to throw it.

STEP 2: FIND “CLEAR AIR” AND THROW

We understand that circumstances will most likely be chaotic in the event of this type of emergency, regardless the next step is to locate “clear air” directly in front of you. Scan your immediate space, making sure it’s clear of obstructions such as lines, the glider, or anything else, and prepare to throw the reserve with full force.

Because your arm is, hopefully, at this point still in a drawn up position across your chest, upon locating your “clear air,” next throw your reserve straight out in front of you with as much power as possible. The goal is to get it away from yourself so that it can better deploy.

Aviator student locates clear air and throws reserve straight out in front of him for deployment.

Your chute should successfully deploy once you’ve tossed it and it catches relative wind at its extension.

STEP 3: DISABLE AND CONTAIN YOUR WING

If possible, once you’re sure your chute has deployed then feed your arms through the inside straps of your harness. Begin disabling your wing by reaching up and grabbing its lines, pulling them down to yourself.

Next (see video), after pulling the wing into a big ball, tuck it as close to your body as possible, hugging it to your chest and stomach area. Doing this helps to prevent a downward plane.

STEP 4: ASSUME A PLF POSITION

PLF, or parachute landing fall, is a safety technique used by parachutist to lesson or eliminate injury when falling from massive heights. Ideally, you want to make yourself as limp as possible upon impact.

So, now that you have your reserve tucked away, next you’ll assume the correct position. Your arms should be crossed over your chute and across your chest, next angle your body sideways, crossing your ankles. Then do your best to be as limp and fluid as possible in embracing for impact.

Doing this helps to lessen damage and breaks to the body, which seems crazy, but paratroopers, soldiers, parachutists, and the like have been using this technique for years. 

KEEP FLYING THE AIRCRAFT

Obviously, it’s hard to know how we’ll react should an emergency of this magnitude arise, but the biggest principal to adhere to is “keep flying the aircraft.” You’re arming yourself with knowledge and emergency skills, so should the time come all you need to do is deploy what you know and fly the aircraft until your feet are safely back on the ground. 

As Andrew Solano, Aviator’s Dunnellon Location Manager and PPG expert, emphasized in the instructional video, you never stop working until the problem is resolved. While you may kick into survival mode, in the event of an emergency, remember to keep flying the aircraft because that’s what makes the difference.

Like we said, no one wants to consider the worst possible outcomes of flight, however preparedness, learning all you can, and practicing emergency maneuvers has a much more positive affect than you might think. The better prepared you are, the more calm you are. The better practiced you are, the more confident you become. Again, arm yourself with knowledge and preparedness and your joy of flight will ultimately boost because you know you can handle situations as the come, no matter what they are.

Embrace knowledge, love flight, fly paramotors.

Safety gear should never be underestimated, so check out some of the Angel reserve parachutes that Aviator offers, along with the reserve pockets and containers that we have as well.

If you found this article helpful, see our rundown on The ParaPack, another one of our premium safety gear items.

Will Flying Ever Get Old? Here are Five Ways to Keep Flying Paramotors Exciting

Arguably, the majority of people that explore the world of powered paragliding fall in love with it quickly. Whether it’s the peacefulness of the skies, the range of dynamics in flight, or simply the amazement of superhumanly flying all on your own, it’s clear that there’s more than one reason people can’t get enough of flying paramotors. Excitement is a given in PPG. However with that being said, some of those still researching the sport have asked a wonderful, thought-provoking question, “Will flying every get old?” 

Is it really all it’s cracked up to be, and is this something I’ll seriously continue to do after I’ve completed my training? And, if this is something I want to continue to doing, how do I keep the desire to fly fresh?

To that, all we have to say is, do it – just try flying. Until you do, you’ll never know how incredible it really is. But, we’re all different, we get it. There is a small percentage of people out there who need more to keep the spark alive. It’s all good, folks, we’ve got you covered!

Will flying ever get old? Here are five ways to keep flying paramotors exciting.

(In case you’re the type that really likes to do there research, here are 10 Reason Why Flying Paramotors Is NOT For You too)

FIND PEOPLE TO FLY WITH; MAKE FRIENDS!

Like we said, we get it – we’re all unique, and for those of us who are a little more social, we need interaction to stay interested. Sometimes we aren’t good with hobbies based on the individual, but rather we want to share our interests with others who enjoy the same things we do. You’re in luck! Flying paramotors fits both of these personality types. Not only can you fly solo, but there’s an incredible, somewhat hidden world of PPG enthusiasts out there – and just a head’s up, they’re pretty friendly too!

Not only can you search the web to find sites highlighting the sport of paramotoring, but there are countless social media groups open to those interesting in flying with friends. There’s groups for beginners, there’s groups for adventure flying, there’s even groups for bargains and trades. Just hit up Facebook and see what you get with the keywords “Paramotor,” “PPG,” and “Powered Paragliding.” You can even scour the comments on your favorite Youtube PPG videos, there’s always fellow flying spirits lurking about the threads.

Seriously, because flying paramotors is such a uniquely different interest, more often than not you’ll be able to find friends who are eager to add someone new to their flying circles!

SHAKE THINGS UP WITH TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE FLIGHTS

With flying paramotors the sky’s not even the limit! In fact, us pilots view it as the road to bigger and better explorations. Imagine soaring high above soaking in everything from a coveted bird’s eye view, that in and of itself is incredible. Who else gets to see the world from that perspective? But if flying around the same ol’ spot you always do is getting old, why not shake things up a big? Venture outside of your own backyard and start researching for new places you’d like to fly, it might be the just reminder that you need of how amazing flying really is.

Fancy seeing the United States in a whole new fashion? Pack up the paramotor and go! Other countries aren’t even out of bounds, as Aviator and many of our friends have adventure flown Costa Rica, country after country in Europe, and many other destinations. 

See more of our feelings on traveling and the spirit of adventure here.

It’s a well-kept secret among pilots that flying gives you access to portions of the world often barricaded via ground travel, so of course it gives you a unique way to see the world and very often you make new friends along the way. Flying new places genuinely births a renewed excitement and vigor inside of you. So, if you’re feeling a bit bored with flying around the airport at home, maybe a road trip is in order. 

PUSH YOURSELF TO GO FURTHER

Once you’re well-acquainted with flying, and you’re looking for more than casual flight, don’t be afraid to push yourself to go further. There’s so many different ways to make flying exciting – ways that suit your unique personality and style preferences too. Seek out additional training for even richer flight experiences.

For instance, if foot launching has become old hat, try learning to operate a trike.

Have you racked up a surmountable number of flight hours? Maybe it’s time to share flight with others and learn to fly tandem.

Or if you’ve gathered a lot of experience, take your proficiency to the next level and seek additional training – try taking a Simulated Incident in Flight (SIV) course. 

Are you confident in tackling more turbulent conditions? Perhaps learning the art of thermaling is next on your list. 

And for those that need to satiate that drive for excitement and adrenaline, start learning more about dynamic flight. Begin dipping your toes into the world of aerobatics!

Seriously, there’s so much to be explored through the sport of PPG. There’s plenty of room to challenge yourself and keep flying exciting.

TRY SOME NEW EQUIPMENT

Take it from the experts, experienced paramotor pilots will tell that trying new equipment makes the sport feel brand new again. Every time you try a new glider or motor you open up the door or exploration. Dive into breaking down the subtleties between each new wing you fly. Feel the variances of strength and power from motor to motor. Even trying out new strobes, helmets and communication pieces, cameras, and adds to the excitement of flying.

You won’t be disappointed at furthering your knowledge base of flight and equipment in this hands-on way.

For an in-depth breakdown of the many different types of wings and how they affect flight, check out our article here.

GO WHERE THE PILOTS AND ENTHUSIAST ARE

As we said, go get you some flying friends! If you’re hitting dead ends online, here’s another way to not only find friends, but to surround yourself with aviation lovers: go to fly-ins and airshows. There are countless aviation-centered gatherings held around the world throughout the year. What better way to soak in some energetic skyward vibes than by jumping into a collection of pilots and air enthusiasts?

In the United States there are PPG specific fly-ins, along with other aviation-related events, including (but not limited to): The Palm Bay Fly-In and  The Sun n Fun Aerospace Expo in Florida; the Bad Apples/Hodges Field PPG Fly-In in Georgia; the Lycoming Balloon Festival in Pennsylvania; and one of the largest aviation and airshow events, Airventure Oshkosh in Wisconsin.

Of course, check out your local areas for other events, whether its PPG related, another balloon festivals, or a general aviation even, there are sure to be like-minded people in love with flying that might lend to your own enthusiasm.

So, will flying ever get old? Perhaps that’s up to you, however it doesn’t change the fact that there is more than one way to enjoy the world of paramotoring. Don’t be afraid to try flying, to make new friends, and to find places that support the wonderful experiences that the sport naturally brings.

The Spirit of Adventure and Flight Go Hand in Hand

The spirit of adventure is something that ensnares us all. Chasing the unknown, daring to explore places unchartered by ourselves. It’s a desire that’s fueled mankind since the dawning of time. And for the world of paramotoring the spirit of adventure and flight go hand in hand. Now you can soar the skies, go where few men are able, and let the winds direct your path into adventure from a whole new perspective. 

We all have dreams of flight and exploration, and now the sky’s not even the limit – it’s the road to more. Some may enjoy the bird’s eye view of their own backyard, others explore their home states, while even more cover the diverse spans of the nation. Even overseas travel and flight has inspired many a pilot to pursue adventure. It’s a well-kept secret that flying gives you access to portions of the world often barricaded via ground travel, it gives you a unique way to see the world, and very often you make new friends along the way. 

So, let us ask you, where is your dream flight? What destinations do you long to explore with your paramotor? The world is your oyster, and PPG is the pearl! Below we’ve highlighted some of Aviator’s own adventures as well as the adventures of our friends. 

Are you ready to fly? This is just a start. We live in a world of limitless possibilities!

SEE ALL 50 STATES LIKE NEVER BEFORE PARAMOTORING

With the vast and diverse landscapes that the United States has to offer, it’s a treasure trove for pilots and explorers alike. From deserts and canyons to meadows and streams, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, beaches low and mountains high, all 50 states promise unique, breathtaking views. Undoubtedly for U.S. pilots, getting to travel with the purpose of flying paramotors is a huge draw to the sport. Who wouldn’t want to experience the country from up high, like never before?

One of our favorite examples of a spirited adventurer is Aviator’s dear friend Harley Milne, founder of the 50 x Challenge, who has inspired us all to travel North America more. Harley’s dream was to see all 50 states of America after he immigrated many years ago, so when the idea came to him to FLY all 50 states something instantly clicked. In crafting the 50 x Challenge, Harley steadily checked of each state, while also earned money for charity in the process. Not only has he grown as a pilot, but Harley heartily affirms that “the world really is my oyster,” and adventure flying the U.S. has been nothing short of amazing.

Check out some of Harley’s Adventure Here:

FLY PARAMOTORS AND SEE PLACES YOU COULDN’T NORMALLY SEE FROM THE GROUND

Whether you’re in the U.S. or traveling overseas, one thing’s for certain, and that’s flying paramotors allows you to explore places you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. While hiking and driving along scenic places is always a draw, those outlets often have limits. To point out the obvious, there are trails to follow and barriers in places that limit exploration. The draw to adventure flying, regulations permitting, is that you’ve freed yourself from the roadblocks in taking to the skies.

As Aviator’s most famous alumni Tucker Gott showcased in his Icelandic adventure series, almost nowhere was inaccessible from the skies. From deep ravines to cascading falls, where walking left him at a distant viewpoint, flying allowed him to see a portion of the world that’s seldom trekked by man. Once again proving that the spirit of adventure and flight open doors to the world often lost because of physical barriers. Inspired yet?

EMBRACE NEW FRIENDS AND CULTURES THROUGH FLYING PARAMOTORS

Today you can now find people who fly all over the world. Pilots of all nationalities are soaring the beaches of Vietnam, sailing over cityscapes in Istanbul, and even exploring natural wonders little inhabited by humans. While regulations vary from country to country, we at Aviator have had our share of adventures in Costa Rica, Jamaica, portions of Europe, and across the United States, along with many other locations.

Check out some of our adventures with our Costa Rican friends:

Flying the world definitely has it’s draw, to say the least. Not only do people enrich their lives by exploring new lands, but they often make a whole slew of friends along the way. Paramotoring other countries opens up the doors to many, many new adventures all the while giving you a unique way to immerse yourself in the cultures at hand. Because, more than likely you’re doing more than fly when you travel, but you’re also mingling with the locals and soaking in as much of the sites as you can along the way. 

What better way to embrace the world than through flight? We couldn’t imagine a more in-depth, immersive, transformative outlet to experience travel. What might begin as a singular endeavor can turn into so much more as you see new places, make new friends, experience new cultures, and ultimately create a life of exploration – all from the completely unique perspective of flight. The spirit of adventure is undoubtedly tethered to flying, just as flying is tethered to the heart’s desire for exploration.

So, we’ll ask you again, are you ready to fly all of those places for yourself? Let the spirit or adventure and flight inspire you, and we’ll see you in the skies.