Educational by Chapter of the Powered Paragliding Bible

I: First Flight

01 Training Process

02 Gearing Up

03 Handling the Wing

04 Prep For 1st Flight

05 The Flight

06 Flying With Wheels 

II: Spreading Wings

07 Weather Basics

08 The Law

09 Airspace   

10 Flying Anywhere

11 Controlled Airports

12 Setup & Mx

13 Flying Cross Country

14 Flying With Others

III: Mastery

15 Adv Ground Handling

16 Precision Flying

17 Challenging Sites

18 Advanced Maneuvers

19 Risk Management

20 Competition

21 Free Flight Transition

IV: Theory

22 Aerodynamics

23 Motor & Propeller

24 Weather & Wind

25 Roots: Our History

V: Choosing Gear

26 The Wing

27 The Motor Unit

28 Accessories

29 Home Building

VI: Getting the Most

30 Other Uses

31 Traveling With Gear

32 Photography

--- Not in book ---

33 Organizing Fly-Ins

34 Places To Fly

35 Preserving the Sport

36 Tandem

How good is (was) my Training?

Ask these questions before starting any training program. Your life may depend on it. Training and the first few flights are risk intensive. See how your school stacks up. There are recommended practices that come from watching the accidents over many years and talking with many, many instructors about where accidents happen and how to prevent them.
See also  Training Alert (avoid these schools/Instructors/Scams)
Did your instructor use a thorough, industry recognized syllabus?

'Winging it' doesn't muster—serious omissions are too easily made. The USPPA/USUA now has a well-recognized syllabus that was developed with input from many leading instructors. There is just no reason why important material should be left out. Make sure that your instructor uses this Syllabus. And just because they're certified doesn't mean they use it. Ask.

If an instructor pooh pooh's the syllabus, you're on your as to whether all the material and skills are covered. Humans don't do well at "just remembering" all they need to. That's why checklists and syllabi underpin all aviation training. Don't shortchange yourself.

Did you get some form of dual flight training before your first solo?

It's a fact that a very few students will react adversely on their first time aloft. There have been fatalities because of it. Students, especially those who have never soloed any aircraft, should get some kind of dual in-flight instruction before going it alone with a motor. The best bet is a powered paraglider tandem but even a dual flight in a powered parachute, where you have to control something, is better than nothing.

Low tows or hill training are a satisfactory substitute but *MUST* be done by qualified instructors. Towing is extremely risky—make sure the instructor is tow rated (by USHPA or USPPA/USUA) before letting them tow you.

Did your instructor have you rehearse emergencies
and other actions while he causes distractions?

Live rehearsal in the simulator is your most important pre-flight learning drill. The instructor first teaches the situations and responses then has you to perform them in a simulator. Once you are doing them correctly, he has you perform them while being distracted. The distraction can be shaking the cage or running the motor but it must be as realistic as possible. Having correct and automatic responses to emergencies is the only way you can expect to handle them. 

It can all be done while hanging in a simulator using your own (or the school's) paramotor. A high quality simulator that has risers and brake lines is most beneficial because you can interact in the same way you will in flight.

Discussing emergencies that require an immediate reaction is not enough. You can talk about them ad-nauseum but, without rehearsal, reactions will not be dependable. The airlines, the military and even general aviation has realize this and adjusted their training with extremely good results. We're lucky in that our simulation is so simple—it doesn't cost anything, either.

Getting in the seat, parachutal stall, reserve toss, collapse, snagged throttle cable, power loss after liftoff, brake line failure and other actions must be rehearsed, preferably with distractions.

These are all covered in the PPG Bible and many are covered in the must-see video "Risk & Reward."

The reason that distractions are important is because there will be so many new sensations that your responses must be automatic. Students who have casually demonstrated actions, even in the simulator, have gotten them wrong in flight, causing a crash. Those who learn them with distractions perform far more reliably.

Ensuring the reactions are automatic in this way will dramatically improve your odds of a correct response. Distraction can be as simple as having the instructor shake the cage while requiring you to respond to his emergency callouts. Some schools may do this later in your training (even after your first flight) but they should certainly do it before you leave lest you be ill-prepared to handle them.

Did your instructor teach you about air law and airspace? 

There is now absolutely no excuse for skipping this area since every student can have this book and go over questions with their instructor. And you should be clear on YOUR local flying area, too. 

Make sure you know it's legal to fly where you'll be flying. As good as the book may be, the instructor must bring it to life.

Did your instructor have reliable equipment,
including a simulator, radio helmets and good radios?

A simulator is a must. It can be little more than a place to hang the motor from but must allow the student to practice getting into the seat and pulling on brakes. Hopefully, the USPPA simulator will be done soon as it will provide a quality tool for an affordable price. Plans will be made available for no charge, once it's completed.

Some instructors have wisely put two radios on their students so as to decrease the chance of failure. They, of course, also have two radios available. This can be done with a regular radio helmet and then also having the student use an earbud plugged into another radio. A better arrangement is where both radios can be plugged into the helmet but that requires a special helmet. 

Was your field adequate?

Flying into trees and power lines has proven fatal for pilots on their first few flights. The smaller, more obstructed the field, the bigger the risk.

Did your instructor provide you with quality training materials?

Obviously information is what we are all about. But even if you don't purchase The PPG Bible and Risk & Reward, make sure you get good, appropriate materials. For example, if you get another book on powered paragliding that is not written for the U.S. market, make sure you get a book about our air laws and airspace. There are indeed other great training materials out there but none that concentrate so specifically on powered paragliding. 

see "Free Training"

Why I Care

Passion. We fly at the pleasure of the people. A nervous and unsupportive people at that. Bad press, horror stories and other negative influences on our sport could incur more regulation or even our demise. It's up to us, as pilots and instructors, to minimize this possibility. The advice here is as much a reminder to me as it is to others.

It's far too easy for someone to watch an experienced pilot launch effortlessly and think it a simple matter. It's easy not to take the sport seriously. Pilots will sometimes learn rudimentary flying and then hang out a shingle as an instructor. That is, in fact, one big reason for looking at certifications. Of course, being certified does NOT make an instructor "good."

I want to see the level of instructing improve and the accident rate go down. My background in aviation helps but, more importantly, it is my observation of so many different and capable instructors that lets me see what techniques work. That insight should be shared. 

It is my good fortune that I have no need to make a living with this endeavor.

In a nutshell, my motivation is selfish - preserve the sport so I can enjoy it well into retirement! Being born in the early 60's means that I'd like to be running skyward for many years to come.


"Free Training?"

If you buy equipment from a dealer that provides thorough training, he's making a well-deserved $1500±$500. You can also buy inexpensive equipment over the internet but you'll pay for training. That's fair and add the benefit that, if you pay for training, there's an expectation of value. 

The single worst place to skimp is training. If a training program doesn't cover what's listed here, or if you don't fill out a USPPA/USUA syllabus, you're being short-changed. Otherwise, how do you know if the instructor is covering what's important?

As to the claim of free training on your motor, that's what marketing people call a "loss leader." Airlines nearly give away a very few tickets so they can advertise it. It sounds good and indeed a very few people get those seats. It's a sound marketing plan and gets many to call the airline only to find "Sorry, there are no seats on that flight...." Same goes for free training on your gear. 

Also, do you think an instructor giving "free" training will feel as compelled to be as thorough? Human nature is what it is.

If you value your time, life, limbs, gear and success, pony up to either buy gear from your instructor or pay for training. It's well worth it! 


© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!