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

Chapter 31: Traveling With Gear

Jan 17, 2007 | Section VI: Getting the Most Out of PPG | Violation For Using Airlines

Importing Engines   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)

 Shipping 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.

The Rules

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:


1. FAA Rules define what constitutes Hazmat which is not allowed to be checked.

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 fuel;
  (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.

2. 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 line:

"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, saying

"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. He was 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

2008-03-12 Thanks to Daren of Connecticut Paragliding School for providing this tip

Cabella's 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.

2. If possible, have the paramotor out of view but not in a way that appears hidden.

3. Like all human interactions, treat them with complete respect, be honest, forthright and friendly.

4. Register the craft with USUA and have the documentation with you.

Alternative Travel

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.


Paramotor Protection

2009 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.

1. Tim Kaiser standing next to the Enterprise and its two paramotors strapped onto a platform.

2. Dave Moore show's off his lightweight transport. Mileage is good—32 miles per big mac.

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