Learning has proven to be among the riskiest parts of becoming a paramotor pilot but there are some distinctive ways to improve your odds. Start with an experienced, certified instructor who commits to the practices below. Or watch him teach. Is he competent? Does he concentrate on flying or wing handling when the weather is flyable? Those are good traits but they won’t help you survive. These will. The instructor or school:

  • Actually uses, and initials each line on the USPPA syllabus. Not all do. They can be certified but may not actually use the syllabus. How do you know all the material is getting covered?
  • Insists you wear a helmet even during kiting. One instructor in California had a student die during wing-handling training after hitting his head on the rocks. The instructor did not insist on helmets.
  • Insists on instilling good ground handling skills before moving on to the motor. Even on carts there are clever ways to get you competently handling the wing before going on your first solo powered flights. FIRST SOLO IS RISKY!!!! In fact all the early flights carry a lot of risk.
  • Insists on either low hill, towed, or tandem flights before first solo. Further, they should have a way to verify that you can control to stop pitch (fore-aft) and roll (left-right) pendulums. That may be as simple as grabbing your helmet and holding the throttle. This can be verified in a simulator but IT MUST BE REHEARSED. The instructor says “hands on helmet and hold” is an example.
  • Had good, reliable communications. Two methods is best. Earbuds AND helmet radio, for example. Or blueTooth AND ear buds from a 2-way radio.
  • Spend enough time on a simulator to REHEARSE reactions to situations. The more realistic the simulator, the better. A fully articulating model that lets you see and feel the risers is best. Even better if it’s stout enough to run the motor. The simulator must be strong enough for that, though!
  • Have solid beginner equipment for you to use. Ideally they provide both wing wing and motor. Go here for the perfect beginner wing. Go here for the perfect beginner paramotor.
  • Has a good site to train you. Trees, airplanes, buildings, small spaces, and water all conspire to do you harm. Nearly every training site I’ve seen has tradeoffs since the huge, open areas are all sod farms (it seems). Even they usually have irrigation equipment to avoid.
  • Has expert tow operators if towing is used. As good a tool as towing is, it carries its own lethal risks. Do they use quads for towing? That’s extremely risky unless they know what they’re doing.