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

--- Extras: Not in book ---

33 Organizing Fly-Ins

34 Places To Fly

35 Preserving the Sport

36 Tandem

AC 103

FAR 91 for Ultralighters

FAR Preamble 


Enforcement Run Amok 

Chapter 8 

Harassing Animals 

Who Owns The Air

Filing A NOTAM

Washington Airspace  

Shipping Legality 

It's Probably Illegal  

Base Jumping Legality  


Airports & Ultralights  

Getting Banned  

Flying Wilderness Areas

Jets & Hang Gliders Sylmar

Probably Not Legal  

PPG & Airports? 

PPG Base Jumping  

2010 Tandem Exemption  

Getting Shot At   

Sport Pilot

Rogue Inspector

Is This Legal? Clouds/Vis

Class E Surface Area

2018-02-09 Updated thanks to Bryan Schwartz and "aeroexperiments" on

We normally fly in Class E airspace which starts at 1200 (or 700') AGL in most places and goes up to 18,000'.

We canNOT fly in the "lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport" without permission (like that below). But there's more to it.


Green is the boundary between E (higher, more restrictive) and G (near the ground). Dashed magenta lines mean E airspace drops to the surface -- "Class E surface area."
But there are some class E surface areas that we CAN fly in. Read on.

Various FAA documents specify two types of Class E surface area:

1) those designated for an airport, (requires permission) and

2) those designated as an extension (we can fly here withOUT permission).


You can see these differentiated in both the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) 3-2-6, and the 1500+ page airspace tome FAA Order JO 7400.9 Airspace Designations and Reporting Points which lists every single airport with E surface airspace. Airport surface areas, dubbed "E2", are listed under section 6002, and extensions, sprouting from towered airports, dubbed "E4", are listed under section 6004. Section 6003 lists extensions from B and C airports.

We canNOT fly in airport E surface areas (like the one above or airport 1 or 2 below).

We can fly in the E surface extensions (like airport 3 below). We can even fly in extensions from class B or C airports (dubbed E3).

There may be airports out there that have a complete dashed magenta circle AND magenta extensions, but I haven't found one. If you do, where you can see they're delineated as extensions, then we can fly there. Weird. Arcane.

The ultimate test is to see if the surface area in question is listed in JO 7400.9 as E3 (extensions to B/C airspace) or E4 (extensions to D/E airspace). If so, we can fly there, other factors permitting.


Class E surface area of any type is depicted with magenta dashed lines.

Below are descriptions of the types of Surface area and whether we can fly in the extensions. You can get permission for the airport E surface area by calling the Air Route Traffic Control Center or approach control that's responsible.

Justification For Interpretation

FAR 103.17 doesn't just say "Class E Surface area," it adds "designated for an airport." Both the AIM and JO 7400.9 (that defines each individual airport) list "designated for an airport" and "designated as an extension." That strongly suggests that they didn't mean to exclude us from the airspace but rather just require us to mind its higher visibility and cloud clearance requirements.


If you have a possibly better interpretation of this, please Email me at the Contact address. Do include supporting document references. Thanks!



Above is another example of "the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport". It's defined under JO 7400.9 section 6002 (E2) and we can't fly here without permission.



Galesburg (above) is also "the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport". We know because its geometry is defined under JO 7400.9 section 6002 as E2 airspace including the tabs that look like extensions but are not called extensions, they're part of area's definition. The piece of JO 7400.9 that defines Galesburg's E surface area is shown below (irrelevant other airport info blacked out). We can't fly here without permission.



And lastly...


The primary airport is D airspace where we need permission from the tower. But the extensions are listed as such under JO 7400.9 section 6004. They are E4 and we do NOT need permission to fly in them.

Few FAA people will know this. I've asked. It wasn't until I was shown the documents and studied them a bit that I saw clearly how it works and what their intent was: to keep us away from moderately busy airports without permission.

As an aside, I have gotten permission from the controlling agency (Air Route Traffic Control Center) to fly from these airports but expect them to be surprised because regular aircraft do not need permission.



© 2018 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!