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

Sport Pilot, Tandem Powered Paragliding, & Wheels for Paramotor Pilots

Feb 17, 2007 | Section II, Chapter 8 | See also Chapter 6 on flying with wheels, Tandem Setup | More on: Exemption For Wheels, Too?

As of Sept. 2008, the USPPA has a new tandem exemption for training with Foot Launch tandems. That's certainly cool but note that it doesn't include typical wheeled craft. Nor does the ASC's exemption which they obtained shortly after USPPA's.

The USPPA applied for this in 2002, using a model based on USHPA's (then USHGA) but it wasn't awarded because the existing exemptions covered paramotors. Those exemptions went away Jan 31, 2008 and the new one is now in place.

I worked with the FAA for countless hours and iterations in an effort to get something that was both realistic and useful. We all know that it's easier and safer to launch a tandem with wheels but that, in the FAA's thinking, made it a sport pilot machine. Nothing I can do there.

FAA regulators were dead set against approving anything until we made it clear it wouldn't apply to wheeled craft. They did understand my concern about carrying a motor powerful enough for two, a difficulty that prevents many instructors from participating, so they allowed verbiage that lets the wheels support the motor's weight as long as the instructor/student support their full weight during launch and landing. That provides a lot of flexibility. No such craft has been built, but it's not hard to imagine. Even that interpretation has been dealt a blow, though, by their updated interpretation.

Our reality is that it's illegal under any FAR 103 exemption to launch tandem with wheels bearing any of the student or pilot's weight.

It *IS* true that the USPPA exemption is worded to allow wheels if they only support the motor's weight. That is, the pilot and student support their own weight by running during launch and landing but wheels support the weight of the motor at least until the wing starts lifting. I worked long and for this capability and would hate to see it die. The whole purpose is to give professional flight instructors a legal path for tandem training. Abuse it and lose it. And to be honest, if instructors think so little of it they want to risk that, I'll have little sympathy if it's not renewed. Please help us protect the capability.

It was my hope with this wording that someone would develop a craft that would support the weight of the motor with wheels while allowing the occupants to run. That would allow even smaller instructors to perform tandems with larger students. Such a machine had, in fact, been created, in Eastern Europe I believe, when the verbiage was put together. No such craft has been produced in the U.S. although one is in testing.

Grant wording of the USPPA Exemption: A powered paraglider is "any ultralight vehicle where the powerplant is attached to the pilot and the pilot/student supports at least their own weight on foot during launch and landing until the wing begins generating lift."

We've been given the opportunity to govern our own tandem operations but most do so carefully. If we want to maintain it as a training tool then we must honor its purpose as such.

Here is the USPPA tandem program. Here is the USPPA FAA Tandem Exemption #9751 (now extended to 2012 as #9751A).

There are currently about 8 USPPA Tandem admins able to give tandem ratings. Yes, you have to be an experienced PPG pilot with demonstrable skills and earn the instructor rating. But it's only fair to your prospective students passengers to meet such a requirement. The USPPA doesn't charge anything and, in fact, will pay YOU to become tandem rated under its program. The payment is actually to those who are able to earn the PPG 3 rating. Membership is $34 per year but you'll get paid $200 for earning the PPG 3 rating. Try THAT with another org!

What is NOT included in Sport Pilot?

Feb 7, 2008 | FAA contents and links current as of this date

For single-place powered paragliders, the answer is simple, they do not fall under Sport Pilot. If it weighs less than 254 pounds, it's an ultralight and falls under part FAR 103. Even with wheels, it just has to meet the requirements of weight, speed and fuel capacity.

For two-place foot-launched operations the answer is also simple, they are not part of Sport Pilot and can only be flown under the exemption held by USPPA for appropriately qualified pilots (or ASC for $100/yr). 

Two-place wheel-launched operations are Powered Parachutes. The craft must be certified (with an N-Number) and flown by a licensed Sport Pilot.

The FAA's 14 CFR Federal Aviation Regulations part 1 definition: 

A "Powered parachute means a powered aircraft comprised of a flexible or semi-rigid wing connected to a fuselage so that the wing is not in position for flight until the aircraft is in motion. The fuselage of a powered parachute contains the aircraft engine, a seat for each occupant and is attached to the aircraft's landing gear."

A powered paraglider is not defined because it is not covered. But The original sport pilot issuance on July 27, 2004 further explained:

"As stated in the proposed rule, the FAA specifically intended to exclude from consideration as light sport aircraft configurations in which the engine and/or wing is mounted on the person operating the aircraft, rather than a fuselage."

Q: I've got a legitimate tandem (2-place) powered paraglider trike. How do I fly it legally?

A: At this point, you don't. Even after this is all finished, these craft may simply be illegal and only flown solo.

Q: I don't want to instruct or become an instructor. Is there another way?

A: Yes, but you must purchase or build (a better option with its own issues) a Light Sport certified machine and earn the FAA Sport Pilot License.

Q: I want to instruct with my Tandem Trike, what do I have to do?

A: There is currently no way to do so, a situation I'm trying to help remedy.

Telling the Difference between PPC and PPG

Nov 27, 2006

It's a lot more black and white now that an exemption has been granted for only foot launch tandems. If it has wheels and two seats, it's a powered parachute. Better have a Sport Pilot License and get that thing certified. Unfortunately, you can't certify existing units so that will be tough.

There is a way to certify a powered paraglider with wheels but you must build it yourself. That puts it the Experimental category and falls under some other regulations. They stipulate that, among other things, you must build at least 51% of it, you may have to have it inspected before first flight, it must be N-numbered, and you must have a sport pilot rating. Then you can legally take a passenger for joy rides.

Does this qualify?

PPGTrike800.jpg (81433 bytes)PPGTrikeCloseup.jpg (67014 bytes)

It does not. It is now a powered parachute. Flying this craft without a Light Sport Aircraft certification and as a sport pilot certified pilot is now illegal.

This LaMouette paramotor was used for years as a foot-launched machine and still is flown by a few. The paramotor detaches easily and becomes foot-launchable again. Although "foot-launched" is not in the definition, it is what they wanted to exclude from sport pilot.

FootLaunchTandem.jpg (99142 bytes)TurboTandem2.jpg (50035 bytes)CheckLand4.JPG (33401 bytes)

These spreader systems are employed on nearly all tandem systems including those used for free flight (middle picture).


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