But unfortunately, paramotor may not be as low-cost as we’d like to think, although it certainly is relative to other forms of flight. I fly other things, though, and find that even at these costs, paramotor delivers more fun-per-dollar than any other form of aviation.
Here’s a look at what you can realistically expect to spend in your pursuit of flight—be thankful you’re not maintaining a helicopter.
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 we’ve go the spreadsheet there that does.
- Regarding maintenance expense: an ounce of prevention really is much cheaper than a pound of 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 $900 later had the shaft come out destroying a belt, pulley, prop, netting, hoop, some radial arms and maybe an exhaust.
- Buying used can save probably 35%. You’ll spend a lot less initially, pay back some of that in maintenance, but still come out ahead in most cases. There’s more likelihood of being grounded, too. Be most careful buying a used wing—it’s what’s holding you up. The harness, carabiners and wing are your life.At least get it inspected.
- You must value your time at some amount. If doing your own work is an enjoyable pastime unto 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 to all makes.
- New pilots should buy gear from their local instructor, if they have one. Even if it costs more, it will likely be well worth it in the long run to have support.
- You shell out $10,000 for gear that you can not now invest so you lose the interest or investment gain (hopefully it’s a gain!).
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. Make sure to weight the number of complaints against the likely number of machines.
Training is not included since it’s a one-time expense and is an enjoyable activity on its own, subject to separate hourly cost estimates. But it’s a cost, so add as you see fit.
With the caveats covered, and assuming you buy new equipment, here is a rundown of typical expenses.
Below is a spreadsheet with all the costs I can think of 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.
Here is a Google Sheets spreadsheet. Pilots living far from their launch site will appreciate accounting for the drive. If you fly an electric (like the top picture), you’ll get to eliminate the gas costs and add similar cells for electric’s costs (namely battery cost/hr and kilowatt-hours used).