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Powered Parachute & Powered Paraglider FAQ

1. What Makes the Powered Parachute So Stable?
The pendulum effect (pilot and airframe suspended by an airfoil) provides self-compensating stability.

2. How Fast Does It Fly?
The Powered Parachute flies at between 26 & 32mph through the air. This is determined by the type of wing, (rectangular or elliptical) & wing loading. The heaver your payload, the faster you will fly. The ground speed is determined by the speed of the wind relative to the flight direction.

3. How Does The Parachute Deploy?
Simply lay the parachute out behind the aircraft, make sure it is squared up to the airframe, make sure all the lines are clear and free of tangles, get in the aircraft, secure your helmet & seat belt, and start the engine. As the pilot and aircraft start rolling forward for takeoff, the parachute will kite overhead. Before going to lift off power (usually full power) make sure the Lines are free, all cells are Open, and the wing is Centered. We call this a LOC. Once this is completed, increase to full power and the parachute will lift the pilot and aircraft up into the sky.

4. What if the engine quits?
It gets very quiet. In the unlikely event that the engine should fail, the pilot can safely steer the unpowered gliding Powered Parachute back to a landing site. You will have a glide ratio of anywhere between 3:1 to 5 or 6:1, depending on the type of wing you're flying. (rectangular or elliptical)

5. How Is The Powered Parachute Transported?
All that is required is a small trailer. Of course, there are many trailer options available, including fully enclosed models that will sleep 6, has full kitchen and bathroom facilities, and can carry a Powrachute Airwolf or Pegasus easily.

6. Why a Powered Parachute?
Why a powered parachute? Boy is this a broad question - you sure you want to go with this question? OK, OK, well, because:

        It is probably the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

        It is the easiest flying vehicle we know about - only two airborne controls. One to control your rise and decent through the skies, (the throttle) and the other to make turns (via your feet and the foot rudder bars).

        Besides keeping the unit sturdy, clean & dry, you only need to change the oil and the plugs to maintain it.

        It takes very little room to store it - a single car garage can hold three units. And hence it is also very easy to transport - a common utility trailer can easily carry your PPC to any fly-in. Heck, some people just add an extended shelf to the rear of their pick-up trucks and put the PPC there (without any trailer).

        You can fly year round, weather permitting of course.

        It requires no ground crew; you can easily unpack, take-off, land, and re-load your powered parachute all by yourself.

        It has an incredible safety record (despite the fact that mere humans are allowed to fly it).

7. What does it feel like?
Flying powered parachutes is the closest you may ever come to actualizing those childhood flying dreams. It is the closest you will ever come to soaring with the eagles. Another aircraft may never match the slow & low abilities of the powered parachute. It is an incredibly safe and fun way to sail-the-skies!

8. What is the ceiling of the PPC? (How high can you go?)
From the factory, the 2-seat PPC with a 65hp engine will normally obtain around 12,000 feet with just an average size pilot, and around 8,000 feet with 450 lbs of occupants. As of July 2001, the altitude record is over 17,700 feet (I believe by Bud Gish of Alaska). With the Sport Pilot rule, you are limited to 10,000 feet MSL (above sea level) If it is a single seat Ultralight, you are not limited to the same ceiling as a sport pilot, but if you plan to go much above 12,000 feet MSL, you will need oxygen.

9. Can I train myself?
Since there is considerably more to flying a PPC, than pulling an elevator control back, or pushing a foot (steering) rudder bar - I would have to say "NO" for safety's sake! And honestly, anyone that says that they can safely train you in under 6 hours to fly solo - is not giving you the complete picture; too much information would have to be skipped - go elsewhere for your training!

10. What kind of license do I need to fly a Powered Parachutes?
This is going to have to be a 2-part answer: one part for true 103 PPC's and one for the 2-seat light sport aircraft (2 seat PPC's).

Relative to true 103 powered parachutes: No license or registration is needed - HEY!
[Note: a true 103 ultralight will weigh under 254 lbs, have a single seat, fuel capacity that does not exceed 5 gallons, go slower than 55 knots (63 mph) and have a stall speed less than 24 knots.]

Relative to a 2-seat trainer: Yes, you will need a Sport Pilot certificate. Your drivers will serve as your medical, and any restrictions placed on that will apply to your sport pilot privileges. This is an FAA pilot certificate. The minimum requirements are;

        12 hours total time, with 10 hours dual training, that means you and your CFI in the plane together, learning to fly the powered parachute.

        2 hours solo flight training. (yes, you're all alone up there when solo). 20 takeoffs & landings to a full stop, with 10 of those being solo.

        A dual cross country training with a flight greater than 15 nautical miles straight line distance between takeoff & landing point. >

        A solo cross country flight of a straight line distance of at least 10 nautical miles between takeoff & landing points.

11. What winds can a Powered Parachute safely fly in?
You should never fly in winds that exceed your flight skills. And, it is recommended that all PPC pilots should avoid flying in winds above 15 mph.

12. Do I need to own a plane, before I take lessons?
No, at Inland Paraflite, Inc. we train & solo students in our aircraft. There are some CFI's that will not allow you to solo in their aircraft, so you should take that into consideration when selecting a CFI. We also recommend that you take lessons before purchasing a PPC, so that you can learn the pluses and minuses of each PPC design.

13. What is the maximum weight you can carry?
There are quite a few factors that come into play when considering this answer.

        The strength of the powered parachute frame

        The size and strength of the canopy

On average however, I will venture to say that around 450-500 lbs of payload is workable for a 2-seat trainer. Your weight and balance documents that are required to be on any 2 seat light sport aircraft will spell this out for your particular aircraft. It will also be spelled out for any single seat PPC from the manufacturer.

14. How much room do you need for take-off and landing?
Again, weight, weather and faith come into play here. But for two people, you will need about 300 to 400 feet for take-off and around 50-100 to safely land. If you have obstacles at the end of your runway, you should plan to have enough room to clear them safely.

15. Are ballistic or emergency parachutes used on powered parachutes?
No. When you have an aircraft with the safely record of the PPC, it is extraordinary to find one with an emergency chute. Besides, you're already flying your recovery system, the ram air parachute wing on your plane.

16. Are powered parachutes useful in aiding Search & Rescue operations?
The PPC is so 'right', so useful when it comes to search & rescue operations, that sometimes, the Civil Air Patrol will get a little jealous about the PPC. Except for getting to the 'lost' sight quickly, there is no better aircraft than the PPC for aiding in the search of the lost. (Heck, you could find a lost rabbit with a powered parachute!)

17. Can you fly at night?
Well, here's another 2 part answer. No, if it a part 103 ultralight vehicle you cannot fly at night. If it is a 2 place light sport aircraft, as a sport pilot the answer is still no. There is one way to legally fly at night. There is also a Private Pilot rating for powered parachutes. This is not to be confused with an airplane (Cessna) private rating, because they are different. If you have the private pilot rating for powered parachutes, along with the required position lights, you can fly at night. So far, there are only 4 Private Pilot PPC examiners in the entire country, so it is very rare to see. You also must pass the private pilot written test, then the practical test and you must have at least a 3rd class medical, so for most of us, we will just fly in the daytime.

18. What are the age limits of a powered parachute pilot?
For a true 103 single seat ultralight, there is no age limit; for the 2-seat light sport powered parachute, 16 to solo with a student pilot certificate and be at least 17 years old to hold a sport pilot certificate.

19. Is a medical required to fly the powered parachute?
No, for a 2 place light sport aircraft, you will be able to use your driver license, or in lieu of that you may have a 3rd class medical. If it is a true Part 103 ultralight then no medical is required. If you choose to get your private pilot rating for PPC's then a 3rd class medical is required.

20. Can I fly in or over a National Park?
There has always been confusion over this question. Except for hazardous areas like the Grand Canyon, the FAA has no restrictions on the air space over National Parks - it is only strongly requested that you maintain 2000 AGL (Above the Ground Level) when over a National Park. However, the Park Service will probably ticket (and yell) at you for violating Noise & Disturbance laws, if you fly too low!

21. Am I able to take my friends or family for ride if I fly a 2 place PPC?
Yes, once you have earned your Sport Pilot license.

22. Do I have to be a 'mechanical' type, to maintain my PPC?
No, if you can change the plugs and change the gear oil, you will be fine.

23. Are we required to register the PPC with the FAA?
Yes, if it is a 2 place, then you are required to register it (a $5.00 fee and then renew every 3 years for $5.00) and you will be assigned an N number (tail number like you see on a Cessna). You will also be required to have an airworthiness certificate. If it is a single seat that meets the ultralight rules, then you are not required to register it.

24. What's the difference between a Powered Parachute and a Powered Paraglider?
A powered parachute, also referred to as a Paraplane, is usually a 3 wheeled aircraft, with 1 or 2 seats. Take off in a powered parachute is accomplished by adding power and rolling down a runway and lifting off when the appropriate ground speed is reached. The pilot and passenger (if any) are seated and strapped in at all times. A powered parachute pilot flying a 2 seat powered parachute, whether solo or with a passenger is required to hold an FAA sport pilot license for powered parachutes to legally fly it .If it is a single seat powered parachute that meets the provisions of the FAA part 103 ultralight rule, then no plot license is required. The wings used are ram air parachutes, designed for powered parachute aircraft. There are rectangular wings, which are more docile and forgiving, and elliptical wings, which give a little more performance, and require a bit more skill and finesse to fly. Both wing types, when matched to the aircraft correctly are safe and fun to fly, with proper training.

There are 2 types of paragliders, powered paragliders and unpowered paragliders. We will talk about powered paragliders first.

A powered paraglider is usually a foot launched vehicle, with the motor and frame strapped to your back. They can weigh up to 80 pounds or so. The wings used are elliptical paraglider wings, designed to be hand steered, and having lighter wing loading characteristics. There are also different performance levels of paraglider wings, from beginner to advanced, and the pilot must posses the skill to handle the more advanced paraglider wings in order to be safe. Your instructor will aid you in the proper paraglider wing selection for your flying skill level. To take off, once the powered paraglider motor is running, you have to kite the wing, and then run to get airborne. Powered paragliders are for single person flight, are considered ultralight vehicles by the FAA, and do not require a pilot license. There are wheel kits available for powered paragliders, so that you can sit & fly. Powered paragliders are not legally available with wheel kits to fly 2 people, though you will see them offered. In order for a 2 seat wheeled powered parglider to be legal, it must have an FAA registration, or N number, as well as a valid airworthiness certificate, and the paraglider pilot must hold an FAA sport pilot license.

An Unpowered paraglider
This is a paraglider wing and harness that you strap on and then run & jump off of a cliff, and then soar, catching thermals.

If you have any questions that we have not covered here, please feel free to Contact Us or call us directly at 760-242-3359

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