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

When Control Towers Close

Can you paramotor at an airport whose control tower is closed for the day or night?

I've always understood that when a control tower closed, the airspace reverted from D to E. That would keep the entire surface area off limits to us without permission from the controlling agency, usually an air route traffic control center.

Phil Russman of Lite Touch pointed out some sites that contradicted that belief so I went digging.

According to the Airmen's Information Manual (AIM), it depends. Although the default is E airspace at the surface, that's not always the case and you find by consulting the Airport/Facility directory. An excerpt is included at right and this can also be viewed online from an FAA website.

Here's the AIM paragraph from Section Two, 3-2-5: (as of July 9, 2009).

At those airports where the control tower does not operate 24 hours a day, the operating hours of the tower will be listed on the appropriate charts and in the A/FD. During the hours the tower is not in operation, the Class E surface area rules or a combination of Class E rules to 700 feet above ground level and Class G rules to the surface will become applicable. Check the A/FD for specifics.

So there may indeed be times when you can fly from airports whose tower is closed without a radio. More importantly, you can fly areas around where the D airspace otherwise puts great sites off limits.

It's good to know the law but, as always, exercise that knowledge carefully. We fly at the pleasure of a sensitive publicópiss 'em off and we won't fly anymore.


This excerpt shows that at Aurora airport near Chicago, it's control tower closes and Class G airspace remains. That would allow you to fly in visibilities as low as a mile and without any aircraft radio.

Please don't go doing that without really knowing what you're doing, but it can be helpful to know the law.

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