31: Traveling With Gear
Jan 17, 2007 | Section
VI: Getting the Most Out of PPG
Violation For Using Airlines
One Man's Transport
The ability to travel so
readily with your aircraft is unique to powered paragliding. It's not
always easy, but it's almost always worth the effort. Taking just the wing
and a harness for free-flying is even easier.
Using public transportation,
especially the airlines, has gotten tougher, then easier since the book was published
and has become even more of a gamble. Transporting by any form of air may
get even more challenging as the TSA (Transportation Security
Administration) now requires all cargo to be screened, even what
gets shipped on cargo-only aircraft.
Fortunately, the other methods
outlined in Chapter 31 are still just as viable and affordable.
Here is a Log entry
from 2016 that shows an inventive and super easy platform of Johnson
Qu's. It's in the sidebar.
Airline Travel with Paramotor (PPG)
your powered paraglider on an airline: NOT!
Every time I hear someone
tell of their success at taking a paramotor on the airlines it makes me
cringe. Kind of like when someone says they stalled their wing and "it
wasn't that bad." Maybe THAT time it wasn't but, in fact, it's damned
risky. So is airline travel for PPG's.
2016-01-20 There are, unfortunately, several sets of rules
that may apply. Residual fuel is a show stopper, though, since that
makes it hazardous materials (HazMat). Here's the list:
FAA Rules define what constitutes Hazmat which is not allowed to be
Title 49, §175.10 (22) An internal combustion or fuel cell engine or
a machine or apparatus containing an internal combustion or fuel
cell engine when carried as checked baggage, provided—
(i) The engine contains no liquid or gaseous fuel. An engine may be
considered as not containing fuel when the engine components and any
fuel lines have been completed drained, sufficiently cleaned of
residue, and purged of vapors to remove any potential hazard and the
engine when held in any orientation will not release any liquid
(ii) The fuel tank contains no liquid or gaseous fuel. A fuel tank may be
considered as not containing fuel when the fuel tank and the fuel
lines have been completed drained, sufficiently cleaned of residue,
and purged of vapors to remove any potential hazard;
(iii) It is not equipped with a wet battery (including a non-spillable
battery), a sodium battery or a lithium battery; and
(iv) It contains no other hazardous materials subject to the requirements
of this subchapter.
They have more readable version on a "Pack
Safe" web page regarding Hazardous Material.
TSA Rules list "Prohibited Items" mostly from a security perspective
but there's a lot of overlap in mission. Flammable liquids, and gasoline
specifically, is listed as prohibited. What about fumes? If they smell
anything they will almost certainly deny carriage. And then there's this
"The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is
allowed through the checkpoint."
3. Airlines have their own
rules that specify what they carry and some U.S.
airlines say "no motors". Period. My own airline does this,
"Southwest Airlines does not allow internal combustion engines as
checked or carryon baggage. This includes new or used equipment.
This restriction includes lawn equipment, engine-powered scooters,
and any other fuel-operated combustion engine."
that's on this page.
Good news, though, is that some
airlines have deferred to the TSA rules which
are slightly more lax. But if a restriction is in the airline's manual,
that's the law. United Airlines is a bit more lax even with
its own rules. As of 2016, says this:
Gasoline-powered tools and equipment, such as chainsaws and
gas-powered weed cutters, are not allowed in baggage unless they are
brand-new, the fuel source is removed or the fuel has been purged.
If the fuel has been purged, the equipment must be accompanied by a
letter from the company that purged the fuel.
So Can I Check My Paramotor?
It appears that you are allowed more now than before but it's still a
crap shoot and you must have every whiff of fuel eviscerated from the
machine and harness.
This fellow tried and lost:
Pilot's FAA Violation for trying to check a paramotor on a flight.
Some pilots regularly do check their machines, though, and succeed. But what if the airline balks?
Without a plan B you could be screwed like this fellow:
We'll call him Ted.
planning a trip to Brazil with his paramotor and flew successfully
from Canada to Chicago (Air Canada) with his PPG. He had successfully
taken it on Air Canada Australia previously with no
hiccups. Not this time.
He was pulled off the plane in Chicago (after
he boarded) by TSA who said he wouldn't be allowed to take it on the
flight to Sao Paulo as it is considered "Dangerous Goods". Most of
the point of the trip was flying the PPG so he had to abandon the
trip and returned home.
The safest bet for traveling
with a paramotor is to remove just the engine and ship it separately.
You can take the frame, cage, netting, redrive, prop, and anything else
that doesn't smell, even to a dog, on the airline trip. Hopefully your
engine is small enough to keep the cost down. Most engines come off with
6 bolts and a few other connection--one of the beauties of it being the
world's most portable aircraft.
Gear Carriers From Cabella's
Thanks to Daren of Connecticut Paragliding School for providing this tip
Outdoor Sporting Goods stores have hitch mounted gear carriers for the
4x4 quads. Put on a piece of plywood and some hooks and you have a very
nice PPG motor carrier for your car. Price complete is under $80 bucks
and is perfect for any size motor.
Crossing borders has problems
lately, too. Pilots traveling to Mexico have reported being turned
around because their craft are not registered and, even when they showed
registration documents, the border guard wouldn't let them through.
Consult with locals whenever possible before taking your gear across the
Mexican border. I've not heard of any problems going to or from Canada.
Be careful about offering bribe's, too, one pilot carefully offered to
cover any "expenses" and was rebuffed. There are certainly those willing
to accept bribes but it's no longer as universal as it once was.
Suggestions for success include
1. Have the machine disassembled so it doesn't look like an aircraft but
never do anything that would appear "sneaky". Do be honest if they ask.
It's "sporting equipment that lets you fly under a large kite." A
picture is helpful.
possible, have the paramotor out of view but not in a way that appears
3. Like all human
interactions, treat them with complete respect, be honest, forthright
4. Register the
craft with USUA and have the documentation with you.
There's always a different
way to get around with this gear. God love portability.
Dave Moore, who lives in a Chicago suburb, has a field near his house
but it's too far to walk, especially toting his aircraft. His elegant
solution is pictured at right—a bicycle with trailer. Of course he made
it himself by crafting a simple bike hitch and welding it to a hand
truck that he bought from a hardware store.
Sept 27 My poor motor used to travel unprotected on the
Enterprise's rear rack (see picture above right) but now she stays
covered. There are better covers, especially custom versions that cover
everything including the bottom then zip up to keep dust out. But for
something quick and dirty, a grill cover works well. Beware, though,
grill covers are far from equal. After wearing a couple out, I can tell
you the cheap ones aren't worth it. And the expensive ones from home
depot are still dramatically cheaper than custom covers.
The cover depicted at left is
a Charmglow 58" wide, 44" tall and 24" deep model made of pretty stout
fabric. It has no grommets, though, so you'll have to add those yourself
to secure it on the paramotor. I bought an inexpensive grommet kit where
you pound your own holes then pound in the grommets. All you need is a
hammer and block of scrap wood, the kit contains everything else. Add
four grommets then use a bungee at the bottom to the cover in place.
Connecting the bungee to two grommets and around the bottom holds the
cover's bottom fast so it won't ride up the paramotor cage.
With these covers being open underneath, dusty roads will leave your
machine covered in powdery dust depending on where you're driving. But
they keep UV off the harnesses and avoid rain issues.