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.

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.

On Safety:

The sport of Powered Paragliding has enjoyed tremendous growth in the past few years. Social media influence, word-of-mouth, and more visibility among the populace has resulted in a great number of new pilots adding to our ranks and joining us in the skies. It’s a golden age for our sport; with new equipment designs, new innovations, and a blooming population. 

However, this growth comes with a kind of negative aspect, as well. In any group of humanity, as population trends upwards, so does the rate of accidents. Recently, we have been struck with the loss of several fellow pilots, many of whom were pillars of their community, beloved friends, and who will be sorely missed. In these times, it is important for us to reflect on safety so that we may all happily continue to enjoy flight in one of it’s most free and pure forms. 

Firstly, we must be conscious of dangers around us. Low flying, flying around water, and flying in proximity to others offers some of the most exciting and rewarding flights of our lives- but it must be understood that these things carry a heavier risk. Water, in particular, offers us what statistically is our greatest danger. Collisions with low objects, in particular power lines, present massive risk as well. And we must do our due diligence with regards to assessing the conditions we fly in- because even when the air appears to be smooth and calm at first, there is no telling what nastiness lurks just over the horizon. And never underestimate Mother Nature’s ability to reach out and touch you- or swat you out of the sky. Do not give her that chance.

We must not rush things. We are easy prey to complacency; when a person has flown enough that it becomes routine, they can lose some of their fear; lose some of the critical respect for the equipment that keeps them alive. You’ve clipped in the same way a thousand times, but you should still check your lines before each and every take-off. You’ve pull-started your motor a thousand times,and it’s started and idled fine. But you should still check your throttle linkage for free play each and every time you pull the rope. You’ve flown over water a thousand times and nothing has gone wrong, but you should still bring flotation each and every time. It is absolutely imperative that we not fall victim to complacency, and that we instill this value in the next generation of Aviators. 

We must understand that at no time are we obligated to fly. Going aloft with gear knowingly in a less-safe state, or with conditions less-than-ideal, is something that is unfortunately common, even among the best of us. A pilot with maturity is one who arrives to the field, ready for an amazing flight that he’s been planning for days; sees the clouds on the horizon, feels something off about the air- and decides that now is not the time to fly. Almost as gratifying as that amazing flight, is having a nice breakfast while you watch the gust front whip the trees around outside, and knowing that you aren’t in it right now because of your good decision making. Even if the weather and the gear are in good condition; are you? Lack of sleep or a poor mindset can contribute to poor decision making. Health conditions or substances that could affect judgement also may limit your ability to fly safely. 

We must know our limits. Steep maneuvers, low flying, and swoop landings are all things that experienced pilots make look easy… but only by virtue of their experience. We must never exceed our limits or leave our comfort zone until we have attained that requisite experience. The path of progression needed to conduct these types of risky flying with confidence should be walked slowly, carefully, and consciously. And remember that the strongest homes are those with the sturdiest foundations. 

We must know the limits of our equipment, too. Hotter, smaller wings should be earned by mastering their slower, larger counterparts first. The differences between breeds of wing can be rather shocking and can easily take an unsuspecting person by surprise. Before choosing a wing to fly, ensure it’s a good match for you; a powered paraglider needs both a pilot and a wing in equilibrium to fly safely. If you are constantly fighting a wing- or, conversely, pushing it too hard- failure may result.  Our air-cooled two stroke engines should be maintained as well as they can be. However, we must be cognizant and constantly aware of the fact that they can, and do, break; sometimes in spectacular fashion, and sometimes in spite of excellent maintenance procedures by the pilot. On the other hand, we can take comfort in the fact that our aircraft needs no engine to execute a safe, comfortable landing. If we keep a safe “out” in mind at all times, we will never be hurt by engine failure.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must realize that this sport is as safe as we make it. Our sport carries an unfortunate and unfounded stigma of being reckless and needlessly dangerous. In fact, your average pilot is not an adrenaline junkie, does not take unnecessary risk in the pursuit of his sport, and very much desires to keep living. And, all told, this sport is statistically quite safe. Our ability to fly in smooth air, without needing thermals or updrafts to stay aloft, means we suffer only half the fatalities of free-flight paragliders according to the USHPA. In fact, it is also statistically safer than motorcycle riding, which carries a fatality rate of 1 individual per 1,382 yearly, compared to our 1 in 1,504. If we keep our wits about us, do not rush, do not fall victim to complacency, understand the dangers around us, and understand our personal limits and those of our equipment, then each of us will continue flying well into the future.