Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Science Night - How to Fly a Paramotor 

What is a paramotor? I call them "flying parachutes," because that's what they basically are. I can't be sure, but I am inclined to think that they emerged out of the hang glider craze in the seventies. By far the most popular hang glider when I was in college was the Rogallo wing, which was actually invented by a NASA engineer and was considered as a possible recovery system for the old Mercury and Gemini space capsules.

It was never actually used by NASA, and I am not sure why nobody thought of using it as a hang glider until the seventies, because it was actually invented in 1948. The only thing I remember it being used for in the late sixties or early seventies is for being pulled behind a motorboat with the pilot being on water skies. But it was when I was in college (Oregon College of Education) in the seventies (I graduated in 78) that people started jumping off mountains with them.

As I said, I can't prove the connection, but my theory is that somehow the skydiving craze and the hang gliding craze combined and produced the strange mutation known as a "paramotor."

They're easy to fly and a much lower cost way to have your own aircraft than buying a Cessna or something. But a caution: This looks easy, but you should not do it without professional training. Tucker Gott, the maker and star of this video came from a flying family. His grandfather was a hobby pilot—meaning that he had a private pilot license, and loved to talk about flying, but never did it professionally. But Tucker's mother was a commercial hot air balloon pilot. So this guy has been flying since he was very small.

I said all that to say that when you see an expert aviator like this, you may have the impulse to rush out and buy one yourself and head for the sky. Flying sports like this that do not require a pilot's license can be dangerous, because people may be inclined to think that the absence of license requirement means that you can just sorta pick it up on your own. Don't do that. You have the ability to become a very skilled paramotor pilot. But get a lot of training from professionals before you try it yourself. Overdo training on the front end of your participation in any flying sport, especially the ultralight variety. Better safe than sorry. I would also advise watching some crash videos, to see what kinds of mistakes lead to trouble. Most problems are simple to avoid, and would have been avoided if the pilot had gotten just a little more training.



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