Free Paramotor (PPG) Training?
2012-05-29 The Travesty Of "Free" Powered Paraglider Training
& Kurt Fister
Think about it for a moment. How much value will an instructor put on
something they're giving away? You'll more likely be treated like
they're doing you a favor. How compelled will they be to
be thorough? To guide you through the difficult beginnings of
becoming a well-rounded PPG Pilot? Will they be motivated to put their heart and soul
into it? Committed to going through the entire USPPA
This isn't about certification, it's about quality training. I've heard MANY stories from people who
bit the "Free Training" apple only to find a worm. Eventually
they may go to a real instructor after either breaking up
their gear or their body--expensive detours that cost way more than
real, quality instruction by someone who goes through the entire
And if an instructor pooh pooh's going through the syllabus, don't expect to cover what's necessary. Be realistic, you're operating an
aircraft, in the national airspace system—if they can't take the time
to cover what's in that syllabus, you're doing yourself a disservice by
trusting them with your life. It's like a checklist. Do you know why
airlines rely on challenge-response checklists? Because they work! It's the most
reliable way to insure a human covers what's necessary.
glaring example is a traveling instructor who promises this free
training and then does a cursory course with sometimes no more than 3
flights even though there is opportunity for more. It's one thing when
weather gets in the way, that can happen to anyone, but to leave a
student with 3 flights is just a travesty.
How "Free" Is It?
You may be asked to pay for the "instructor's" travel and hotel.
That's certainly not free. Then, more than anything, if the instructor
is not committing to get you through the skills and knowledge of a PPG2 rating, with at least 25 flights,
you will be far more likely to damage equipment or flesh in the
aftermath of that training. The rating isn't what counts, either, it's
Kurt Fister of Flight Junkies is one of
these operators to beware of. He promises this training but frequently
only gets the student 3 flights, leaving students dangerously
unprepared to go out on their own. This is America and I relish the freedom to choose, but after
watching the carnage that so frequently follows such woefully inadequate training, I feel compelled to warn others. I've held off for way
Also, do the sport a favor and look at their
Ask yourself if this is what you want
to support. Flying sites are one of our sport's treasures and anyone
willing to risk someone else's site by flying intentionally
irresponsibly should be shunned. Can you imagine your own horror at
having an out-of-town pilot come to your local field, buzzing nearby
houses, and getting your site shut down? We must have no tolerance for
this. An accidental flying too close is one thing, intentional
disrespect is despicable.
Questions to Ask Your Prospective Instructor
Thanks to Paul Czarnecki for the following list:
these questions make your potential instructor angry, ask yourself
While it's certainly possible to succeed in spite of woefully
inadequate training, it's a crap shoot. Training is absolutely the last place anyone should
skimp. It's FAR less about gear than learning how to use it. Those who do
survive such initial marginal instructors usually do
so only after seeking out real instruction or by finding a group to fly with.
A good training PROGRAM is the single most important thing you will buy as a new
paramotor pilot--far more important than gear, make sure to find a
certified instructor who goes through the entire USUA/USPPA or USHPA
syllabus. Being certified is not the end-all, either, the instructor
must be willing to take you through a complete course, preferably ending
in a rating. It is more work for you and
the instructor but the benefit is becoming a more knowledgeable pilot
who has worked up to the skills for a PPG 2 rating. These are clearly
spelled out. Most students will also need to practice on their own to
actually gain these skills, probably taking 40 to 50 flights to reach
the PPG 2 skill level, especially on spot landings. But you will be so
much more ready to face life aloft!
Treat yourself to quality,
thorough, training. Survive, thrive and enjoy this incredible sport. As
of 2012 the USPPA will even reimburse you $100 for earning the PPG 2
rating to help offset a part of the extra cost thoroughness entails.