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Last update on 12/06/2013

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Frequently asked questons.....

Do you need a licence to fly a paramotor? In Northern Ireland/ UK you are covered by the CAA Air Navigation order Exemption which allows you to fly a paramotor subject to various limitations.
In the Republic of Ireland you will need to hold an exemption certificate- to get this you will require professional tuition from a certified school, you will need to pass a practical test and written test, submit a Class 2 medical certificate, and prove that you have 3rd party insurance. Flying without an exemption certificate will lead to prosecution, a fine and confiscation of equipment
Can anyone fly a paramotor? You must be over 16 years old, and you should be generally fit. You must be able to carry upto 30kgs on your back, and sprint short distances. All new potential pilots are advised to get professional tuition from a BHPA or IAA certified instructor.
How high can you go ? Within the contraints of the UK ANO you must not pass 10,000ft, or 3,000ft in the Irish Republic. Technically a paramotor can fly comfortably upto heights of 12,500ft if you can put up with the cold.
How fast can they go? and how far?
The wing determines the speed of flight, a typical wing will cruise at 25-28mph with trims off. With a speed bar fitted you can peak at 32-35mph. During landing and takoffs, the trims are used to slow the wing down to a comfortable running pace. All speeds quoted are 'airspeed'. Flying at 35mph into a headwind of 10mph will give you a resultant groundspeed of 25mph, and flying with a 10mph tail wind will give you a resultant groundspeed of 45mph.
With a 10 litre fuel tank, a typical machine can cover upto 90 miles in zero wind, in approximately 3 hours.
How long can you stay up for?
Typical 2 stroke machines have a duration of upto 3 hours, 4 stroke machines can stay up longer.
Generally flights range between 30mins and 2 hours for me- it's gets cold up there sometimes.
How difficult is it to contol?
Flying a paramotor couldn't be easier, it's very similar to a RAPS parachute or paraglider. Left toggle to steer left, right toggle to steer right, both to flare on landing. Increase throttle to ascend, decrease throttle to descend.
Taking off is the hard part, it takes a lot of practice to conrol the wing, but once you've mastered this, the rest is relatively easy. Of course you must factor in good airmanship, legal requirements, navigation, hazard perception, collision avoidance, emergency procedures, etc... simultaneously...
Where can you fly?

You must remain outside of controlled airspace and any other features marked on the current airmaps. You must hold an IAA exemption if you fly in the Republic of Ireland. Generally any open flat land, clear from obstructions, powerlines, etc.. is suitable. Anything about the size of a football pitch is suitable, but the bigger the better. You must have the landowner's permission to fly from the land, and public areas are not allowed. You must fly above or within gliding distance of open area.
Regularly check NATS for relevant NOTAMS withing your intended flying areas.
Note: If flying within Northern Ireland (Monday 9am to Friday 5pm)-pilots will be required to put in a CANP for a particular flying site, preferably the day before. There is a minimum of 4 hours notice before any Pilots are notified of our presence. The procedure is simple.
Call 0800 515544. Provide a grid ref and times. The CANP doesn't mean they will not fly in the area, it means they will be aware of our presence. Where possible they will avoid.
More information available here

What if the engine fails?
Not a matter of 'if' but 'when'. May sound like a nightmare situation, but the wing contines to fly normally, giving you plenty of time to select your landing point, and prepare for landing. Your training programme will include 'engine outs' and you need to do 3 of them from 500ft, landing inside a 30ft circle for your practical test. A very useful skill to have.
What fuel do they use?
Regular unleaded petrol with a 2 stroke oil mix - ratio depends on engine manufacturer.
What size engine do they have?
Machines range from 80cc to 220cc, depending on your weight.
How long does it take to learn?
It varys between people, time commitment and weather are the biggest issues in this country. If the weather is perfect, and you are fit, you could possibly pass your test after a 7-10 day intensive course.
Can more than one person fly?
Most good instructors offer footlauched tandem 'taster' flights, or on a wheeled trike.
Where can you learn?
There is one school in Ireland, and several in mainland Europe that I would recomend (France/Spain) To fly in Ireland you must go to an approved IAA instructor- or if you intend to go to the UK or Europe you must attend a recognised BHPA school.
How much will it cost?
Motors and wings are sized depending on your weight- typically a motor will be around £2500 to £3000stg, and a wing can be anything upto £2000. Don't buy anything without advice, and don't buy anything '2nd hand' of off eBay unless you know the full history of the equipement. Unlike anything else, your life literally depends on this equipment, so make the right choices.
Is weather an important factor ?
Windspeed on the ground must be less than 10mph for safe launching. Weather must be calm, no rain, etc.... Generally very hot days are not good either, we tend to only fly early mornings and evenings in the summer heat
How safe is it? Providing the pilot has been properly trained, and equipment/site and weather factors are adhered to- the most hazardous part of a days flying is driving to and from the site. As long as you know when to fly, and when not to fly, obey the law, and think 'safe', you are in no danger. Regretably there are injuries and even fatalities in this sport every year.
First steps ? The first step would be to visit a flying site and see them in operation. Ask the pilots about training, equipment- most of them will be very helpful after landing, but don't interupt pilots while preparing to take off, or during pre-flight checks!
Most schools provide either tandem foot launched, or tandem trike taster sessions, so that you can judge whether it's really for you before you commit any serious money. Many people buy equipment before seeking advice- don't do this! you will only end up buying the right stuff again- and beware anything offered 2nd hand from people who don't fly, especially on internet auction sites.
Dont forget, Insurance.....

Most landowners insist on minimum 3rd Party insurance for pilots using their land. The BHPA provide this for UK resdents, but it is important to check the details on this-
-BHPA cover applies to 'rated' paramotor pilots, and trainee paramotor pilots under instruction from a qualified and registered instructor.
-BHPA cover extends to Republic of Ireland as long as terms of IAA exemption are being followed, and you do not ecxeed 120 days flying within a single year.