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

Getting Permission To Fly Your Paramotor

Section II Spreading Your Wings, Chapter 9: Airspace

Powered paragliding can be done almost anywhere so careful choices must be made. You want to fly inside the dashed magenta lines? It's easy where there's a control tower because there's someone to ask. But what about airports, such as Truth Or Consequences (TCS) depicted at right, where there are just these dashed lines?

TCS Airport is reasonably busy but not enough for a control tower so they lowered Class E airspace to the surface as shown by the dashed magenta lines (not the shading). FAR 103 specifically prohibits us from flying there without permission. Airplane pilots (including sport pilots) do not need permission nor do they need to talk with anyone to fly there. The reason the Class E was lowered was merely to increase their required visibility for takeoff and landing—our prohibition is a side-effect.

Interestingly there is no top. We can't fly over this piece of airspace at any altitude. Control tower airports with D airspace around them have tops that we can fly over (not that you'd want to).

Elephant Butte reservoir, just east of TCS airport, is a popular Powered Paragliding spot. Its western shore provides a gradual sandy slope with plentiful launch opportunities. But some of it is within the Class E surface area outlined by those dashed magenta lines, requiring permission.

Who To Call, How To Ask

The controlling authority will either be a nearby approach control or, for more remote locales, an Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) or just "center."

These folks are not used to ultralight pilots and may not understand the need for permission. After all, the vast majority of traffic they deal with doesn't need such permission. So when you call, be ready for a surprise. Here's an example of how you can ask.

Pilot: "Hi, my name is Jeff Goin, I'm an ultralight pilot who plans on flying 3 miles east of Truth or Consequences. I believe that is your your airspace?"

ARTCC: "Yes, it is."

Pilot: "OK, I plan on flying VFR from probably sunrise to sunset and will remail well clear of the runway approach and departure corridors. Is that OK?"

ARTCC: "That's fine, just remain VFR at all times."

Your response will vary obviously. Sometimes they just say "have fun" and other times they need to talk to a supervisor because they've never faced the question. The good news is that, once you've asked a few times and they're familiar with the drill, it'll be easier the next time. Another problem is finding the telephone numbers for center. Thankfully, I've done the mousework. They're here.

If you're out in the field or don't know who to call about an airport, you can call Flight Service (FSS) at 800-WX-BRIEF and they should be able to track it down.



The dashed magenta lines lower class E airspace to the surface. The shaded magenta ring lowers Class E airspace to 700 feet AGL.





This is another example of Class E to the surface. Aurora airport has a control tower and commands D airspace marked by the blue dashed lines. But it also has extensions outlined with magenta dashed lines. These lower E airspace to the surface and prohibit us from flying there. In this case permission can be had by contacting the control tower. The inset shows it clearly: the magenta colored areas are Class E surface areas and the blue shading is Class D.

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