Powered Parachuting is one of the most accessible forms of powered flight to the public. A powered parachute, also known as a PPC, is a 3 wheeled cart-style vehicle with an aircraft engine, and a parachute-style wing attached. This aircraft can be safely flown on most calm weather days and requires minimal training by aviation standards.
What can you do with a powered parachute?
You can fly about between 1 and 3 hours at a speed of about 30 mph on one tank of gas. You can climb thousands of feet in the air. Or, you can stay between 500 and 1,000 feet above the ground as many pilots do. A large field, clear of obstructions, is plenty of room for you to land and takeoff.
Is it Safe?
You can make powered parachuting, like most adventure sports, as safe or
dangerous as you want. You can enjoy years of injury free flying as long as you
follow basic safety guidelines and use well maintained equipment. Ways you can
make it safe are to receive instruction from a certified professional and use
safe equipment -- professional schools will create as controlled a learning
environment as possible.
Powered Parachuting is an outdoor sport and Mother Nature is unpredictable -- weather is always a big consideration. The primary safety factors are personal judgment and attitude. You must be willing to learn gradually and use good judgment and have an appropriate attitude.
Who can fly a powered parachute?
Powered Parachuting is about finesse, not strength. As in rock climbing, women often do much better than men because they don’t try to muscle the powered parachute around. The undercarriage weighs approx. 250 to 400 pounds, so you will need some physical fitness. But more important than physical conditioning, is being physically and mentally alert and prepared. To be a successful powered parachuting student and pilot, you need to be able to think clearly and to listen well.
How much does a powered parachute cost?
New Two Seat Aircrafts start at around $15,000 and Single Seat Aircraft start at around $11,000 depending on the features that you may want.
Good used equipment is often available for half as much though it will have a shorter life-span. In addition, because the sport is evolving rapidly, newer powered parachutes can have significantly better performance and behavior than older ones. You will need expert help in determining the suitability of the used gear for your needs, and how airworthy it is. Good deals exist but you will need to be able to carefully evaluate what you are looking at.
What do you need to know when purchasing your first powered parachute?
First, you need to know how to fly. No would-be pilot should purchase a powered parachute before learning at least the basics of powered parachuting. A reputable dealer will make certain you are properly trained before he will sell you any equipment. In most cases the dealer is also an instructor. Or, he will refer you to an instructor who can properly train you. It is your instructor’s job to help you select your first wing. Different powered parachutes have different characteristics and require different skill levels; your instructor will match the powered parachute to your particular interests, strengths, weaknesses, and skill level. Develop a solid relationship with an instructor you trust before purchasing equipment.
How do you get started?
The best way to start is with a tandem introductory flight. This gives you a taste of flying. Once you have seen what it is like then you can sign up for one of the offered courses.
Do you need a license to fly?
Single Seat Powered Parachutes are regulated under the Federal Aviation Regulations Section 103 and therefore a license is not required as long at they weight less than 254 lbs, carry 5 gallons of fuel or less.
Dual seat Powered Parachutes are regulated and they do not comply with ultralight regulations. In order to fly a dual seat machine you will need to obtain a Sport Pilot License.
Sport Pilot Requirements are as follows:
§ Dual Instruction for a qualified instructor (CFI)
§ 12 Hours of Flight time
§ 70% or better on the Sport Pilot Written Test
§ Pass on the Practical Test with an Examiner
How long does it takes to learn?
You can be airborne in as little as two days. It all depends on your
ability to learn the techniques involved in launching and flying. How long it
takes, also depends on your background. If you are a licensed pilot, have
paragliding or powered paragliding experience, or other aviation training, you
may progress more
quickly in certain parts of your training, since there are areas in your training that may be very similar.
Three to four consecutive days of training are often adequate. Your first few flights will be under very controlled conditions. Your instructor will be making most decisions for you. You will gradually begin to develop your confidence and skills, as you progress in your flights. You will also begin to make more decisions about your flights yourself. By the time you finish training, you should be able to takeoff and land without assistance, as well as, make most of your own decisions about flying. It may still take several more flights before you feel really ready to fly on your own.
If your goal is to fly single seat machines, we have a 4 day course that will get you flying safely, however it is possible that it may take more time depending on the weather and your learning curve. For those wanting to go the Sport Pilot route, we offer a 12 day course as well as other courses with different length designed to make you a great pilot.
How fast does a Powered Parachute flies?
A powered parachute fly at a constant speed of 30 MPH. The ground speed is affected by the wind speed so a a tail wind will increase your speed, while a head wind will slow your ground speed.
How long can you fly?
A Powered Parachute uses unleaded gas and depending on how you fly, you will burn between 3 and 4 gallons per hour. Ultralight aircraft can only carry 5 gallons so you will be able to fly an hour with 15 minutes of reserve. For the 2-seat aircraft they usually carry between 10 and 12 gallons so you could fly about 3 hours.
How high can you fly?
A Powered Parachute can actually fly as high as 10,000 feetbut most pilots usually fly between 200 and 1000 feet depending on the weather. Over open areas without fences, power lines or dangerous obstacles you could fly a couple of feet over the ground.