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

Where the Heavies Fly

Section II Spreading Your Wings, Chapter 9: Airspace

To a paramotor, everything is heavy. But this article concentrates on where you can expect airplane traffic including airliners, to fly relative to airports.

We know to stay out of the airspace around large airports but must also be vigilant when simply nearby. The gist is that the closer you get to an airport with airplanes, the lower you'll find airplane traffic. If you climb up high, you can be quite far from the airport and still find traffic.

Early on in my paramotoring life I was flying near my house which is 20 miles west of Chicago's Midway airport. That's well outside their outer ring of class C airspace and below the 3600 foot floor of O'hare's B airspace. While cruising fat, dumb and happy at about 3200 feet, I saw a 737 off to the east coming at me. Then it dawned on me: I've flown 737's through this area near my current altitude. I quickly spiraled down to 2600' and the jet wound up passing well above and north of me but it sure did get my attention. Then, flying the 737 on westerly departures from Midway at 3000', I marveled at knowing how close I was to the same airspace I occupied with the PPG. Scary.

Airplane traffic can be found anywhere, especially around busy airports, but it gets concentrated around predictable arrival and departure paths, both vertically and horizontally. On average, jets depart steeply and arrive fairly shallow—about 300 feet high per nautical mile away from the airport. That’s also about 3 miles away per 1000 feet high.

Piston aircraft follow a shallower departure and arrival path.

So at 10 miles away from the airport you can expect jets to be about 3000’ (10 * 300’). If you’re flying at 10,000’ MSL, expect jets to be about 30 nm away from their landing airport. Fast aircraft spend more time at 10,000’ MSL than most other altitudes because they must slow down before going lower. Beware that controllers sometimes descend airplanes earlier or later than these figures. This is just a guide.

Now that you know where the "heavies" are most likely, it will be easier to avoid them. Good luck, we're all counting on you!

On average, jets will be about 1000 feet high for every 3 to 4 miles from their destination airport. Obviously there are exceptions so it's best to know your airport's local arrival/departure corridors.


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