Don Jordan Launching a Fresh Breeze. Don is my hero, and is one tough guy. He was a Navy pilot who survived a catapult failure from an aircraft carrier. He’s also had a 22 year career as an American Airlines pilot, but more impressively, he was still foot launching paramotors at age 84 as of this writing (originally Oct 2020) is likely the oldest pilot doing so. He started at age 63. Go get ’em Don!

I was 39 years old when paramotor consumed me. Nearly took over my life is more accurate. Little did I know how deep the dive would be, and boy has it been a fun run.

At first it was mostly older people then some youngsters (to me) started joining in, probably the Tucker effect. I thought it would be interesting to see so I went to the largest online gathering of paramotor pilots (about 30k) that I’m familiar with, and put up a poll. There had already been a poll in March of 2018, but I wanted to get an update. Are we getting younger? What *IS* the average age?

Here is the spreadsheet. If you want to play with it, copy and download so this data doesn’t get changed. Below is the result as of 2020-10-12. The average pilot age in 2018 was 43.6 and in 2020 it was 45.3. Interesting. We may have gotten younger, but then it seems we started aging again as a population.

This isn’t very scientific, of course: it’s based on a Facebook poll. But I did try to account for different age groups being under or over-represented on facebook. They were compared with US Census population data and adjusted accordingly. So if the Facebook poll had 10 teen-age respondents, and teens represent 20% of the population but only 5% of the facebook population, there are probably a lot more than 10 teens.


Then I got curious about gender representation.

There are precious few women. To quantify their rarity I put up another poll. Early results suggest that we’re about 12% female. No surprise there given that’s what we see at fly-ins. But it is interesting. Why so few women? My observation is that it’s just interest. Sure, there may be cultural influences, but when I consider modern girls with at least apparent freedom to choose, they don’t tend to choose flying very often. Of any kind. Not good, not bad, just how we are.

There ARE more women in paramotoring than other aviation, it seems, at least in the airline realm that I occupy. There it’s only about 7%.

I used to live on an airport in suburbia and would take people up fairly often. I remember when asking families with kids “who wants to fly?” Girls were far less likely to want it. They didn’t look at mom or dad first, they just weren’t interested. A few were, of course, and went, but only about 20%.

Dimorphism is the physical differences between sexes, but other differences exist and this seems to be one of them. Flying in general. An interesting result. Lady pilots: you’re a rare breed!