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FAR 103 Rules

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PPG Bible


#1 Full Time School

Rental Equipment

 USPPA Approved

Why Join USPPA?

 Safe learning environment

Not a "3 day wonder" course

Discover PPG Flights

 Tandem Lessons

Paul Czarnecki


Instructor Commitment

Why Use a Certified Instructor?

Is it Safe?

Get Started

$1800 (PPG1 & PPG2)

You can fly too! With PlanetPPG 

1. Pre course interview to better understand your goals and limitations (if any). Introductions and facility orientation.  Instructor Conduct Pledge & Initial USPPA syllabus review. Learn about aerodynamics and how a powered paraglider actually works.

2. Learn all about the equipment you will be flying. With a "hands-on" approach check out the paraglider, engine, harness and reserve parachute. We will cover the internal workings of the engine, maintenance, and repairs. If you have decided to use a trike we will cover that as well. Tandem flights are offered to better prepare the student for future solo flight.


3. Get to know the FAA Part 103 regulations. You will learn how to read the FAA Sectional maps. We will look at your home area on the sectionals to see what restrictions you might have at your future LZ. We will also examine how thermals and weather effects paragliders. 4. Learn how to handle the wing while on the ground. This is important. Once you master this you advance to actual flight! 5. You are ready. Your first solo flight will be an experience that you will never forget. We will take pictures and video to record the event. You will then take more flights to gain in experience while learning the finer points of flight and spot landing.
Foot Launch Trike Launch

Learn to lift and control the wing on the ground so you will be able to walk into the sky.

 Foot Launch is very rewarding!

Want to sit while you launch and land? We recommend anyone over 45 consider wheels.

Trike allows easy launch!

To Get Started:
All you need to do is contact us. We will be happy to discuss the options you have. Please do not be fooled by other offers like: "must buy this brand" or "you do not need structured (with syllabus) training" or "free training for life". Do your research. The more informed you are the better pilot you will be. Look past market hype - ask questions!

What you get:
When you meet the skills and knowledge requirements of the USPPA training syllabus you will be awarded a PPG1 and then PPG2 certifications. This is an acknowledgement that  you have acquired the skills necessary to fly safely on your own. You will become a member of a privileged group of individuals that have chosen to take charge of their lives and fly above the earth.

Why Use a Certified Instructor?

The benefits of using USPPA/USUA/USHPA certified instructors

The government does not regulate paramotor instruction. No license is required to fly one and anyone can hang out a shingle calling themselves an instructor. As a result, a responsible individual seeking instruction has a problem; how do you know if the instructor or school follows safe practices, has a thorough training program or even has the knowledge and skills to teach students? That is why PlanetPPG has a PPG certification program.

Our sport's minimal regulation was setup because the government essentially (and fortunately) lets us do our own thing, there is minimal governmental regulation on our sport. We are allowed to hurt ourselves individually, but we're not allowed to take up any passengers. But the whole idea is that we don't want you or anybody to get hurt.

This is aviation. We operate in the US Airspace system and missteps could ruin it for everybody, let alone the individual. Inadequate or improper training can very easily result in student injury or death. We fly very unique aircraft who's handling and characteristics are not always intuitive. The USPPA/USUA/USHPA certified instructors have demonstrated knowledge and skill in the flying of these craft along with how to handle numerous emergencies that can come up. While there may be wonderful and effective non-certified instructors out there, your safety is our primary concern, and certified instructors will ensure that your training is the best you can obtain, anywhere.

Just being certified does not make an instructor "good" or even safe. Nor does being an expert pilot. They must be good teachers, be disciplined and able to effectively communicate, among other things. Recommendation from a trusted pilot is a great reinforcement that your choice is a good one.

If They're Certified

Using the USPPA syllabus is required to receive your certification. This document covers the essential knowledge and skills that we feel should be included during training for the PPG1 (first solo), PPG2 (pilot) and PPG3 (advanced pilot) stages. The PPG2 rating is what we consider the minimum for a pilot to be ready to fly on their own, independent of trained supervision.

You should ask your instructor to go through the entire syllabus for the rating you seek. You both will initial each area covered. Humans are not perfect, even instructors, and this document helps insure training. Remember that all pilots use checklists to ensure nothing is forgotten, and PlanetPPG is no exception.

USHPA Instructors

The US Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association has very thorough training and instructor program for paragliding. The USPPA program was based on it. Learning to paraglide first is an effective (and fun) way to get into the sport but you should know there are significant additional techniques and emergency recoveries when power is added. Learning these is not part of the USHPA program. Learning them will make a huge difference in your success and survival in powered paragliding. A USHPA-only instructor who does extensive motor flying will likely know these techniques and emergencies but check around. There are numerous USHPA and USPPA/USUA certified instructors out there.

Aaron in simulator at PlanetPPG Erica is flying at PlanetPPG PPG Tandem

Aaron in the classroom simulator and Erica smiling after a tandem flight with Paul

Ask  these questions of any potential instructor:

1)  Do you use a structured training program that includes a syllabus?

2)  Is your school listed with USPPA, USUA or USHPA?

3)  Do you like other PPG instructors? Why not? Does the instructor have a huge ego?

4)  Do you "bash" or "knock" other brands of equipment or training programs?

5)  Is it about you the student, or is it all about "the numbers" for the instructor?

6)  Do you sell only one brand of engine or wing? Why?

7)  How many training hours does the student get before the program ends or you leave town?

8)  What does the student do while waiting for you to return to provide more training?

9)  Do you provide illegally copied instructional DVD to students?

10) Do you stock parts for the engines you sell?

11) Do you offer repair services? Do you know how to repair the equipment?

12) Do you use available safety gear; helmet, boots, radio, hook knife, and reserve parachute?

13) Do you follow the Federal Aviation Regulations part 103?

14) Do you hold a current a tandem exemption? Do you offer tandem rides?

15) Do you know what FAR 103 is and can you list the rules to me?

16) Do you allow a student to fly in unsafe areas?

17) Can you read the FAA Sectional map? Do you look for updates before you fly?

18) Do you look for TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions) before you fly?

19) Do you instruct your student to log any safety incidents in database?

20) Do I make you angry by asking these questions? Why?

Federal Aviation Regulation Part 103 Federal regulations


Only one person at a time and the vehicle must be human controlled.


Recreation or sport use only. No commercial use - including selling photographs


Empty weight is less than 254 pounds.


No more than 5 gallons fuel.


Max speed with power on = 63 mph


Max speed with power off = 27 mph


FAA reserves the right to inspect your equipment at any time.


FAA can force the operator to provide proof of equipment specifications.


Written permission is required to break any rule.


No airworthiness certification standards are required of the aircraft.


Operators don't need any aeronautical knowledge and can be any age.


No registration or markings are required on the aircraft.


You may not cause a hazard to any other person or property.


You cannot drop items if such an action creates a hazard.


You can only fly from sunrise to sunset. (Strobe use allows 30 before sunrise & 30 after sunset)


You must give right of way to all powered aircraft.


You cannot be a collision hazard to other aircraft.


You must give right of way to all unpowered aircraft.


No flying over cities, towns, settlements, or open areas of people.


No flying in Class A, B, C, D, and restricted Class E airspace without prior permission.


No flying in the prohibited areas without prior permission.


No flying in "Notice to Airmen" sections


You must see the ground at all times.


PPG's are allowed in Class G airspace.

0-1200 feet you can fly right to the edge of the clouds. Normal visibility must be no less than 1 mile.

1200-10000 feet you must maintain 500 feet below, 1000 feet above and 2000 feet horizontal from all clouds. Normal visibility must be no less than 3 mile.


Instructor Commitment

We make this commitment to help insure students instruction is as safe and effective as possible.

It is beneficial for USPPA instructors to periodically review their commitment to quality training.

While engaged as a USPPA instructor I commit to the following:

  1. I commit to understanding and following USPPA training directives and guidelines as detailed, updated and communicated by the USPPA training committee.

  2. I commit to following any applicable Federal Aviation Regulations

  3. I commit to following training and product trends in the paramotor and paragliding industry by reading articles in publications world wide, discussions with other professionals, and whenever possible, attending fly-ins and trade shows.

  4. I commit to sharing information on product deficiencies and improvements.

  5. I commit to sharing information and seeking information on incidents and other safety related subjects.

  6. I commit to training and issuing USPPA ratings as described in the ratings skill levels with integrity.

  7. I commit to using appropriate and modern equipment during training, and that this equipment be airworthy, inspected and maintained to a high standard.

  8. I commit to only conduct training in sites where both the student as well as other members of the general public and their property will be put at minimal risk. In so doing this means the choice of a big field without obstacles that may make flying hazardous such as but not limited to: electric poles, trees, hills, water, buildings, ditches, animals, holes, etc..

  9. I commit to fully communicating to the customer/student that all training as well as paramotor flight and associated equipment used in the USA is minimally regulated and as such it is up to the pilot in command to accept the risk this regulation brings.

  10. I commit to communicating to the customer/student that to the best of my ability and his/her efforts, errors can and have been made in the past and no amount of care will eliminate them from occurring in the future. That accidents resulting in serious injury and death have and can happen, that the details of these accidents are made available as best as possible through our association as well as other associations.

  11. I commit to cease training to any or all students that have shown any tendency to put their lives or the lives of others (as well as property) at risk and to do so immediately and as tactfully as possible, I commit to discussing this possibility with the customer/student prior to the start of training.

  12. I commit to conduct a pre-course interview in order to better understand the student's needs as well as have reference information available should an incident/accident occur.

As a USPPA Instructor I pledge to use professional conduct and good moral and ethical values.

Paul Czarnecki USPPA #1316

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How Safe Is Powered Paragliding (PPG) in the U.S.? (PPG Bible & USPPA.Org)

Numerical Analysis is tough but I suspect that we can get within an order of magnitude. Yes, yes, it's as safe as you make it but lets take an objective look. If you fly a powered paraglider, what are the chances you'll die doing it? I don't address the much greater risk of injury because data is even sketchier. Of course you can improve your chances—dramatically it turns out—but I'll approximate the overall odds.

Lets start with the year 2007 estimate of about 3000 active pilots (those who fly 5+ times per year—see sidebar) in the U.S. We're averaging 1 fatality every 8 months. So we can say there are about 1.5 fatalities per 3000 participants per year which is 0.5 per 1000 participants. I use the per participant numbers because flight hour numbers are even harder to estimate. The comparisons below assume that average participants engage in the respective activity about the same amount per year.

Compared to motorcycle riding. In 2003 the National Center for Statistics and Analysis reported about 0.7 fatalities per 1000 registered motorcycles. I'm assuming that anyone bothering to register their bike is probably active. Some bikers ride all the time and others just keep them registered with very occasional use. Same with PPGers although the avid riders take their bikes to work every day—PPGers can't do that. So, although it appears that PPG is about 30% safer than motorcycle riding, the number may easily be skewed more than others.

Compared to paragliding. The U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) has about 10,000 members of which approximately 4500 are paraglider pilots. To be conservative, I'm assuming all are active (at least 5 flights per year). Over the past 5 years they have experienced about 3 fatalities per year. That's about 0.7 fatalities per 1000 participants—almost identical to motorcycle riders which means that paragliding is about 30% more dangerous than powered paragliding. Given that its entirely possible that paraglider pilots have even fewer yearly flights (they are more weather dependant) than paramotor pilots, paragliding could easily be far more dangerous than this suggests.

Compared to driving. Unfortunately, driving to the field is much safer than paramotoring. The NTHSA report used above (to compare motorcycle riding) finds that driving is 16 times safer than motorcycle riding so we can infer that paramotoring, which is 30% safer than motorcycle riding, is about 12 times more dangerous than driving. 

Compared to flying light airplanes. According to Flying Magazine, a light airplane pilot has 10 times more likelihood of dying on a personal flight than on a drive—about the same risk as paramotoring.

Compared to flying light helicopters. Yes, this is a ridiculous comparison but, since I fly a helicopter, wanted to quell the common accusation that they are highly risky. Helicopters can land safely after an engine failure and, in fact, have a nearly identical risk of fatality, per hour, as light airplanes. That means helicopter flying is about as risky as flying paramotors.

Compared to Sky Diving. Not surprisingly, sky diving is incredibly dangerous! It's a skydiver myth that flying up in the airplane is more dangerous than the jump out. According to the U.S. Parachute association (USPA), a sky diver is 4 times more likely to die on the jump out than the flight up. That means that sky diving is about 4 times more dangerous than powered paragliding. 4 paramotor flights is the same death risk as one skydive. That is, in fact, how I decided to go skydiving—I decided the fun factor would equate to 4 paramotor flights. Risk and reward.

But I Don't Do Risky Things, Am I Safe?

Once you've been trained and have achieved approximately PPG2 skills, the risk drops dramatically. Then, if you start exploring steeper maneuvers, flying low or accepting stronger weather conditions and tighter sites, the risk goes back up just as dramatically. Avoiding those things keeps your risk low.

This isn't intended to be a preachy "don't do such-and-such" but rather a heads up on what the risks are. Hey, we accept x amount of risk just by strapping one of these things on.

The motorcycle rider can do only so much because he's dependent on others. Multi-vehicle crashes produce nearly half of all the motorcycle deaths. If we die, it's probably our own doing.

Most fatal PPG accidents have been related to (remember, these are for fatal accidents):

1. Training. Sorry to say but this is a dangerous phase. Make sure your instructor goes through the USPPA syllabus methodically, using a simulator and rehearsing reaction to his instructions. THIS IS CRITICAL! If you've not flown, it must be automatic how you're going to react. Just being told won't cut it. You must rehearse! The more realistic the rehearsal, the more it benefits.

Get a tandem or do hill flying before going aloft alone. Your life depends on it. A flight can go from fun to fatal in a matter of seconds with inappropriate control inputs. Towing is another way to get a flight before soloing with the motor but that has it's own risk. One student has died during a towing accident—treat it with great respect.

2. Water. Never, ever accept any situation where you could end up in water over 12" deep if the engine quit. By avoiding the possibility of water immersion you improve your odds by at least 25%.

3. Steep maneuvering. Wingovers are the worst because they involve so much vertical and can easily result in wing collapses. Steep spirals are almost equally bad. They can be disorienting or cause the pilot to lose consciousness.

4. Low flying. Wires pop up everywhere and, if you fly low long enough, eventually you'll run into one. When you do, there's roughly a one-in-30 chance it will be fatal. Other risks of low flying involve being confused by the "downwind demon" illusion and whacking into something from inappropriate reaction. That illusion only causes problems when flying low.

5. Weather. Fly within the first 3 and last 3 hours of daylight on days with benign conditions and no major changes forecast. If it's windy aloft, it will soon be gusty and turbulent at the surface. Strong conditions have been a likely factor in three fatalities that I know about and overlap a couple others. Training in strong conditions, for example, is a particularly bad idea.

Some pilots seek out thermals to stay aloft. I have, too. This trades some safety for the fun of soaring and a reserve parachute is essential. It's not uncommon for paragliding competitions to see several "saves" after pilots take large collapses in strong thermal conditions. A reserve is no panacea, though, top pilots have still died at the hands of strong conditions even though they carried reserves.

6. Midair. If you fly with others you are at risk. If you hit someone there is about a 1 in 10 chance it will be fatal. "look, shallow, up/down, turn" means look in the turn direction, start a shallow bank while looking up and down in the turn direction and finally do your turn. It doesn't take many pilots in the air, either. The one fatality I'm aware of happened with 4 pilots aloft and neither was in a landing pattern.

7. Equipment. Using someone else's equipment adds risk. A 2007 fatality happened to a pilot who took off in borrowed gear and got a brake wrapped in the prop. This is more likely in low hook-in machines but there likely other risks that apply to all machines.

If you have a low hook-in machine, make sure the cage has sufficient protection above and on top (covering the prop, preferably) to prevent a brake toggle from going in. It depends on the wing, too, since they have different brake pulley positions and some pilots have modified their brakes to hang below the pulley. Otherwise it will be up to you to insure it doesn't happen. I've seen or heard of brakes going into the prop about 12 times and this is the second fatality resulting from it.

8. Sites. Flying from tight or unknown sites has proven risky. Scope them out, walk them off, if necessary and don't accept places where you don't know how much wind may be present if rotor could be a factor.

9. Landable areas. Landing in or colliding with a tree gives about a 1 in 50 chance of being fatal. Always have a safe landing option. This is painlessly easy to heed for most of us. In fact, if you land into the wind, out of any significant rotor and on dry surface, the chances of dying are very, very small (I don't know of any). But don't land in trees or water!

2007-08-15 Thanks to John Will & Mike Nowland for input and correction on the fatality rate computation and units.

23 Aug 2016 PMC