What’s the difference between paragliding and paramotoring?
What’s the difference between paragliding and paramotoring? Aside from the two-stroke engine strapped to the pilot’s back spinning a propeller to the noisy tune of over 7,000 revolutions per minute? Many people view paragliding and paramotoring as a conveniently crossover sport; you have an airfoil canopy and a harness, how hard could the transition be right? While similar in fundamental appearance there are going to be noticeable differences pursuing these two sports in flying options and restrictions.
For starters one is launched from the side of a hill or mountain and the other is propelled into the air via an engine, conveniently on any flat ground clear of obstacles you can find. Surprisingly, you need less training to launch with an engine than you do to run off a hillside. A bonus of paramotoring is you can be out of the car and airborne within 15 minutes!
Adequate launch locations for paragliding are frequently found on public land or parks, requiring you to register and sign a waiver, to free the property from any legal action against them. To further ensure pilots are not going beyond their skill level, site’s have rating requirements based on the conditions found there. Want to fly a new destination on vacation? Better check to see if you took enough classes to be allowed access to the launch while when paramotoring virtually fly anywhere you want in unrestricted airspace.
Behind the scenes paramotoring is much “easier” once airborne, you turn with the toggles as their is less need for weight shift, the weather conditions are more predictable, and you can gain or loose altitude by applying engine power. Free flying, on the other hand, is much more technical in terms of the actual flight and more dangerous when launches require commitment.
Paragliding is one of the purest forms of flight and because your handwork getting to launch you are rewarded with a chance to be part of the changing invisible air around you. There is a beauty to the rising and sinking air you dance with while harnessing it to exploring terrafirma from above..
For actual flight paragliders launch into a cycle, seek out atmospheric conditions for lift, and only get one landing approach (better make it count!) unlike the paramotor pilots. Since free flying exploits midday thermal activity, one has to “actively fly” the wing, this includes controlling surges and oscillations. This is accomplished through gentle movements in the harness with your weight as well as brake input to calm the wing down. When paramotoring, this active air is avoided so as not to cause any unexpected surprises while flying.
Which option should you go with as a first time pilot? You should get into the one you can afford to start as soon as possible! I will be covering costs of equipment and training for each sport in future blog articles but will advise you that if you want to do both then a wing choice will be your biggest decision.
A point of consideration is that you can use a paramotor wing for paragliding but it is not always advised to use paraglider wings to motor because of the weight loading on the canopy.