It seems cheap and, relative to other forms of flight, it is. But is it really cheap? Here’s a look at what you can realistically expect to spend in your pursuit of flight. Cheap is always relative—be thankful you’re not maintaining a helicopter. When Don McNiven asked me about this it got the wheels turning. Here are the results.
See also Chapter 1 on starting training and what to look for.
Several factors can have a dramatic affect on hourly cost. Traditionally, only expenses directly attributable to the aircraft are included so things like getting to field aren’t included. But, for a full assessment, they should be and the downloadable spreadsheet does.
- An ounce of prevention really is much cheaper than a pound of cure. Especially while being grounded during the cure. Appropriate preventative maintenance can preclude the expensive departure of parts while reducing the risk of surprises. Vibration is legendary for sacrificing the priciest pieces propwards. Neither part nor prop usually survives. Thankfully, for example, I’m rebuilding my redrive before something bad happened. That’s probably $90 now instead of $500 later had the shaft come out destroying a belt, pulley and prop and who knows what else.
- Buying used cansaveprobably 25%. You’ll spend a lot less initially, pay more for maintenance, but still come out ahead in most cases. There’s more likelihood of being grounded, too.Be careful buying a used wing—it’s what’sholding you up. The harness, carabiners and wingareyour life.At least get it inspected.
- You must value your time at some amount. If doing your own work is an enjoyablepasstimeunto itself, consider yourself lucky and don’t add the $30 per hour that I count. Since there’s probably not a paramotor repair shop down the road, if you wanna fly, you’ll learn to fix.
- Accept the fact that there is variability. Not all motors are created equally. Mistakes in manufacture happen. Some people are lucky and some aren’t, even with the same care. I know one meticulous pilot who spent probably a dozen hours repairing a recurring problem on a reputable motor. The manufacturer has since changed the troubled ignition system but these things will still happen in other areas toallmakes.
- New pilots should buy gear from their local instructor, if they have one. It’ll save so much money and hassle in the long run.
Don’t be fooled when you hear about “all the problems” of one motor or another. They all have problems but a popular motor will get more press because there are more of them.
Training is not included since it’s a one-time expense and is an enjoyable activity on its own merit. With the caveats covered, and assuming you buy new equipment, here is a rundown of typical expenses.
Below is a spreadsheet that outlines every conceivable cost related to paramotoring. It’s nothing I’d recommend for your disinterested spouse and remember how much worse it could be. Renting an airplane costs over $100 per hour and is rarely as much fun as powered paragliding.
Download the Excel Spreadsheet here. Sept 28, 2007 Updated with lines to include the cost of transporting yourself and gear to the flying field. Pilots living far from their launch site will appreciate it (or not).