Click here for the reality of “Free” Powered Paraglider Training & Kurt Fister (or Pfister)
Think about it for a moment. How much value will an instructor put on something they’re giving away? More likely you’ll be treated like they’re doing you a favor. How compelled will they be to be thorough? To guide you through the difficult beginnings of becoming a well-rounded PPG Pilot? To be DISCIPLINED and spend the required number of hours and days it takes to make a successful pilot, not just get you airborne a few times? That takes time!
Will they be motivated to put their heart and soul into it? Committed to going through the entire USPPA syllabus?
Remember, training is among the riskiest part of paramotor flying. A careful instructor following industry best practices has WAY less chance of hurting students.
How would they answer these questions (click here)?
This is about quality training. I’ve heard MANY stories from people who bit the “Free Training” apple only to find a worm. Eventually they may go to a real instructor after either breaking up their gear or their body–expensive detours that cost way more than real, quality instruction by someone who uses best practices.
And if an instructor pooh pooh’s going through the syllabus, don’t expect to cover what’s necessary. Be realistic, you’re operating an aircraft, in the national airspace system—if they can’t take the time to cover what’s in that syllabus, you’re doing yourself a disservice by trusting them with your life. It’s like a checklist. Do you know why airlines rely on challenge-response checklists? Because they work! It’s the most reliable way to insure a human covers what’s necessary.
The most glaring example is a traveling instructor who promises this free training and then does a cursory course with sometimes no more than 3 flights even though there is opportunity for more. It’s one thing when weather gets in the way, that can happen to anyone, but to leave a student with 3 flights is just a travesty.
How “Free” Is It?
You may be asked to pay for the “instructor’s” travel and hotel. That’s certainly not free. Then, more than anything, if the instructor is not committing to get you through the skills and knowledge of a PPG2 rating, with at least 25 flights, you will be far more likely to damage equipment or flesh in the aftermath of that training. The rating isn’t what counts, either, it’s thoroughness.
Kurt Fister of Flight Junkies is one of these operators to beware of. He promises this training but frequently only gets the student 3 flights, leaving students dangerously unprepared to go out on their own. This is America and I relish the freedom to choose, but after watching the carnage that so frequently follows such woefully inadequate training, I feel compelled to warn others. I’ve held off for way too long.
Also, do the sport a favor and look at their ethics. Ask yourself if this is what you want to support. Flying sites are one of our sport’s treasures and anyone willing to risk someone else’s site by flying intentionally irresponsibly should be shunned. Can you imagine your own horror at having an out-of-town pilot come to your local field, buzzing nearby houses, and getting your site shut down? We must have no tolerance for this. An accidental flying too close is one thing, intentional disrespect is despicable.
Questions to Ask Your Prospective Instructor
We now know what causes training accidents and one consistent cause is not being disciplined. Not surprisingly, when best practices aren’t followed, accidents happen. Humans behave in remarkably predictable ways that a conscientious instructor can avoid. The article below provides list of questions to ask your prospective instructor.
If these questions make your potential instructor angry, ask yourself why.
While it’s certainly possible to succeed in spite of woefully inadequate training, it’s a crap shoot. Training is absolutely the last place anyone should skimp. It’s FAR less about gear than learning how to use it. Those who do survive such initial marginal instructors usually do so only after seeking out real instruction or by finding a group to fly with.
A good training PROGRAM is the single most important thing you will buy as a new paramotor pilot–far more important than gear, make sure to find a certified instructor who goes through the entire USUA/USPPA or USHPA syllabus. Being certified is not the end-all, either, the instructor must be willing to take you through a complete course, preferably ending in a rating. It is more work for you and the instructor but the benefit is becoming a more knowledgeable pilot who has worked up to the skills for a PPG 2 rating. These are clearly spelled out. Most students will also need to practice on their own to actually gain these skills, probably taking 40 to 50 flights to reach the PPG 2 skill level, especially on spot landings. But you will be so much more ready to face life aloft!
Treat yourself to quality, thorough, training. Survive, thrive and enjoy this incredible sport. As of 2012 the USPPA will even reimburse you $100 for earning the PPG 2 rating to help offset a part of the extra cost thoroughness entails.
Testimony of a Victim
Below is a post from 2019 that is not uncommon. Few people post publicly for fear of his vitriolic response. Beware.
I just want to let anyone that is looking to buy equipment and train through Captain Kurt Fister FLIGHT JUNKIES to NOT WASTE YOUR TIME.
My husband spent over ten thousand dollars we drove down to Florida so he could train with KURT he deceived my husband and wasted our time. We were in Florida for 2 weeks arrived on a Friday and left two weeks later on Saturday. Yes I will say Kurt can’t control the weather but he had two full weeks to train my husband.
The Thursday before we left a 24yr old kid showed up for training his first Day and Kurt put him in the simulator he never once put my husband in it, told him he didn’t put you in the simulator till you were ready to fly, yet he was putting this kid on his first day of kitting with only two hours of kiting, another thing we have only been gone from Florida for two days which means he has only had 5 days with this kid and of the five three days the weather was bad, yet he already has a video of him in the air flying his paramotor, MY HUSBAND NEVER EVEN GOT OFF THE GROUND AND WE WERE THERE 14 DAYS!!! It was pay back cause when we sent the money to him, he told us to make sure he didn’t have to sign for it, to have the mail service leave it at the door.
The post officer protecting us highlighted signature required which pissed Kurt off, cause he had to track the mail down cause he was leaving the next day, that’s number one.
Number two he tried like hell to get my husband to go with a trike and he kept telling him NO he wanted to foot launch. Every day my husband drove 2 hours to go train, KURT told him to call him every morning at 9 so he could check the weather and every day he never answered his phone, not ONE DAY. when he would go over to Deltona Kurt would be distracted, with family, or phone calls, shooting the crap, instead of focusing on training my husband. His attention span is about as long as a two-year-olds penis. He tells one story after another that he doesn’t even remember what he says, he is a bullshitter every word out of his mouth is bullshit. As a guy he seemed decent but as a business person and trainer he is the worst I’ve ever encountered. He would tell us one thing and than not even remember what he said.
He said he wanted my husband in Deltona so he could show up at a moments notice so we got a hotel room, with our 5yr old, so my husband could train, and when we arrived he was like you shouldn’t have came over without checking with him first even though he said he wanted us in Deltona. COME ON MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Now my husband has to spend more money to have someone train him, so he can use his equipment he bought, cause Kurt is a joke. Please please be careful if you decide to go with Flight Junkies. He doesn’t do anything in his business name, checks are made out to HIM personally, which I think is sketchy, he doesn’t give receipts, when you ask for one he makes excuses to why he can’t. I believe HES DOING SOMETHING ILLEGAL. The whole trip was a complete waste of time, Kurt acts like your suppose to know everything about paramotoring when you are there to train and you’ve never done it before.He doesn’t show or explain anything just expects you to watch him and pick it up. There was one other guy who showed up the same day we did and the way Kurt pushed the trike the other guy paid the extra $2500.00 for a trike even though he told my husband and I he wasn’t doing a trike, but ended up cause Kurt pushed so hard, I honestly think he was punishing my husband for the whole mail signing thing and not going with a trike, so it was easier on Kurt. This man should not be in business, and I just want others to know what we went through.
Kurt contacted my husband and was furious about this post.
When he first called my husband he thought he might be calling about coming back to finish up training but that was not the case.The only reason for his call was to try and get this post removed. When he didn’t get the answer he wanted he was very belligerent it started screaming at my husband. My husband hung up on him then Kurt called him back a little while later and still didn’t get the answer he wanted ,my husband had to hang up on him a second time.
This guy is so full of himself, he doesn’t care about anybody but himself.
My husband said that all Kurt did was bash other trainers on A frequent basis when they were training.Would anyone expected anything less from the Captain. Anybody that has a 5 foot tall cardboard cut out of themselves in his living room is definitely full of himself. All I can say is narcissist. Captain Kurt is just ruining this sport because all he does is run his mouth about everybody that he is threatened by. He needs to do the paramotoring Community a favor and just stop the bashing because everyone is sick and tired of this kind of behavior and want it to end. A little advice from someone that made mistakes getting into para motoring Is to get your training first, pay the money for training. The reason that they get so much money for training is because they supply the equipment you train on and training takes more than three days if it is a quality trainer. Remember there’s no such thing as free anymore and if it is free there is probably a problem with it.