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

AC 103

FAR 91 for Ultralighters

FAR Preamble 


Enforcement Run Amok 

Chapter 8 

Harassing Animals 

Who Owns The Air

Washington Airspace  

Shipping Legality 

It's Probably Illegal  

Base Jumping Legality  


Airports & Ultralights  

Getting Banned  

Flying Wilderness Areas  

Probably Not Legal  

PPG & Airports? 

PPG Base Jumping  

2010 Tandem Exemption  

Getting Shot At   

Sport Pilot

Rogue Inspector

Is This Legal? Clouds/Vis

Is This Legal?

June 26, 2017 | Section II | Common Sense & The Law, Ultralights flying near clouds

As you can imagine, this doesn't do it justice. The feel of air on exposed skin and immediate smells makes open air flying the most compelling kind for those willing to do it.


This morning I went for a hang glider trike flight and found myself amidst small cumulus clouds a few hundred feet up. It was magical. Clouds served as pylons in the sky allowing me to climb, dive and turn around them in a way that made the sky feel like my playground. I was dancing with clouds.

It also made me think about legality, perception and risk--how some people will look at these pictures, or watch from the ground, and think "that's not legal!" Sometimes I would zoom climb above a cloud which, from below, would look like going through it. Overzealous FAA guys have made these kinds of mistakes with statements like "you were flying over those houses." Reality is that the FAA pays very little attention to us but that's how we want to keep it.

So how is this legal? FAR 103's cloud clearance and visibility minimums are nearly identical to what airplane pilots must follow. If we're in G airspace, which is essentially the whole country, and we're below 1200' above ground level (AGL), we only need a mile and clear of clouds. That's it. These clouds were low, with bases at 700' and tops less than 1100' AGL so it was easy to stay in G airspace.

We really do have amazing freedoms here in the U.S. but, like all freedoms, they must be preserved. Freedom is never free.

Our land is about 130' above sea level so here I'm around 900'. G airspace goes up to 1200' AGL (700' close to many airports) so as long as I keep this reading below 1300' I'm good to remain clear of clouds and have 1 mile visibility.


What About The Risk?

So it's legal in the right airspace but is it smart? There may be a modicum of extra risk because there could be someone else up there coming around the cloud that I don't see. The only craft likely to be doing this are probably pretty slow, and can turn sharply to avoid going through the clouds. That's why it's so important not to fly *IN* the clouds. Pilots flying on instruments won't be down here because airspace is designed to keep them higher.

Another thing is where I'm at. In the above picture you can my runway a couple miles north but I'm essentially the only one flying out there right now. There are a lot of little airplanes here, because it's Florida and beautiful weather permeates mornings, but they're nearly all up higher.


Not only can we fly our little craft like this but we don't need to worry about the 500' rule that mandates staying that far from any man-made thing. Yuck. I can (and did) go play at 3 feet along fencerows among Serengeti-looking pastureland without worrying about someone sicking the law on me. Don't disturb the cattle, of course, but ief stay clear of people and their creatures, we're good.

The freedoms we have here are remarkable but, like elsewhere in life, have to get along with fellow humans lest they rise up and make laws against us. So enjoy your flying, your dancing, and your pylons, but enjoy responsibly.



LooksBad.jpg (148116 bytes)

Yes, this looks bad, flying over all that congested area. Had it been more than a trick of the camera, we'd have to chastise David, the pilot. But he was, in fact, over lake Michigan when I pointed my zoom lens at him to make it look bad.

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