If you’re thinking of learning to paramotor in the UK you’re in the right place. I’ve been flying paramotors all over the UK for over ten years, and In this post I’ll share everything you need to know from how to start, whether you need a license and training, where to learn, and where you can fly a paramotor legally.
Is paramotoring legal in the UK?
Yes paramotoring is legal in the UK, the sport is unregulated, and a paramotor will not need to pass regular inspections of airworthiness. You’ll be required to follow visual flight rules (VFR) which are a set of regulations written up by the CAA to ensure pilots operate aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going.
Contrary to what some other websites are telling you, you do not need to register your paramotor or wing in the UK. They are completely deregulated under the Air Navigation Order, they don’t come with any proof of ownership document like you get with a car, and once you have them in your possession you just need to maintain them to a high standard to keep them airworthy.
This will include regularly servicing the paramotor as explained HERE, and sending your wing off for a yearly inspection to check material porosity, line length and strength etc.
Do you need a license to paramotor in the UK?
No you do not need a license to paramotor in the UK, but you do need professional training and an experienced instructor to get you in the air for the first time. Training isn’t required by law, but it really is essential to learn how to operate and fly a paramotor safely.
You’ve probably heard of pilots who taught themselves to paramotor, but this is not recommended. The initial flights are known to be the most dangerous time for a paramotor pilot, and due to the heightened risk of things like parachutal stall amongst beginners we can not support any pilot who tells you self training is safe.
Training will usually take 2 weeks in the UK, but due to the unpredictable weather this could end up taking much longer. Make sure your chosen school will offer the option to make up for missed bad weather days at a later date.
UK weather is awful, is it really worth paramotoring here?
We don’t have the best weather in the UK, but in terms of flying it’s probably not as bad as you think, and there are plenty of days that are flyable. On average I manage to fly about 90 hours per year, I usually stay up for an hour or so per flight meaning I fly about 90 days per year, or once every 4 days. Not so bad ay!
UK weather can be dangerous for paramotor pilots at times, but if you take the time to learn about safe flying conditions your flights will be trouble free. Take a look at our paramotor weather limits post here.
Cold weather / Winter flying
You can fly year long in the UK, and although many pilots choose not to fly during colder weather, some of the best flying is done during the winter due to the calmer less thermic air. You can also fly happily all day long during the winter months, while in the summer you’ll only be flying in the morning or evenings after the strong thermals have dissipated.
It’s hard to put into words just how cold you can get while flying a paramotor in the UK during winter. Not only do you have the freezing temperatures and wind chill to deal with, but the temperature drops lower the higher you climb, and then the propeller drags even more cold air straight past you as you fly.
If you’re planning on flying in the UK all year long, you’ll need some good quality cold weather gear to keep you warm and comfortable. The last thing you want is to be shivering in your harness with numb hands wishing you were on the ground.
Check out our flight suit post by clicking here for some essential thermal paramotor flight suit ideas, and get some heated gloves like these ones that I currently use (link to Amazon).
These two items are essential for colder UK temperatures, and I also like to wear a balaclava like the one I’m wearing in the picture below to keep the cold air off my neck, these make a massive difference to your comfort in flight.
Balaclava for paramotoring
Stay warm during high altitude flying, early morning flights, or during the colder months.
We use BLCOOl polyester fabric to produce high-quality outdoor sports masks which provide premium performance for breathability, absorbency, durability, and abrasion resistance. Very soft, wrinkle free, lightweight. stay warm and dry.
The last thing you need to consider during UK winter flying is damp ground. This can make your shoes and feet wet before take-off, and lead to freezing cold feet while flying. Landing onto damp grass during winter, or even onto summer dew can also be tricky, I lost count of how many times I slipped and fell because of this as a beginner, and I even broke a propeller because of this.
The best thing I’ve found is a pair of waterproof hiking boots like these (link to Amazon). They’ll stop the water penetrating through to your socks to keep your feet dry and warm, and they’ll provide enough grip during launching and landing, while still giving you freedom of movement for your take-off run.
Where can you paramotor in the UK?
When looking for a place to fly in the UK you’ll need to make sure you’re flying in uncontrolled airspace, this is known as class G airspace.
UK airspace is divided into five different classes: classes A, C, D, E and G. The classification of the airspace determines the flight rules which apply, and the minimum air traffic services that will be provided to pilots. Classes A, C, D and E are areas of controlled airspace, so you’ll need a VFR chart to make sure your planned launch spot and flying area falls in class G airspace.
You can get yourself some really good phone apps for paramotoring that have airspace and VFR charts. Take a look at our favourite apps by clicking here.
Most of the UK falls in class G airspace, and when flying you’ll have the freedom to fly with no radio or air traffic control instructions. You’ll need to follow VFR rules at all times, and check NOTAM information before launching.
The CAA have also released two documents to help UK paramotor pilots to understand the rules of the air, and to stay safe while flying. Click here to download both highly recommended documents.
A few things for UK paramotor pilots to note from the rules of the air are:
- Low flying rules. You can legally fly your paramotor low and foot drag, but low level flying must be done in accordance with the rules of the air regulations section II. This states that an aircraft shall not fly closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure. This is measurable in any direction for example horizontally or vertically. This is known as the 500 ft rule, and UK pilots often get confused and think that we should never fly below 500 ft, but this is wrong.
- Weather forecasts: rules of the air regulations section IV states that weather reports should be examined immediately before every flight. Learn how to check the weather forecast for safe paramotoring conditions here.
- No night time flying: night time means 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise at surface level.
- Pre flight checks: a pre-flight inspection of your paramotor and wing should be made immediately before every launch. Remember, paramotors do not need a certificate of airworthiness, so it’s your responsibility to keep it well maintained and in perfect airworthy condition.
Finding a field to launch from
When you’ve found a good launch spot in class G airspace, you’ll need to make sure you have the landowners permission to launch and land there. In general parks and council football fields are off limits to paramotorists, but asking your local council wont hurt, as I know pilots who have been granted permission to fly from council land.
Farmers are usually kind enough, and a knock on the door to ask permission is all it takes to get a lovely large field to use. I managed to get permission to fly from a local football club field fairly easily, so there’s another good option to try. Small uncontrolled airfields are also a great option, but once again you need to ask permission, you can’t just turn up and launch.
Where to learn to fly paramotors in the UK
There are lots of really good paramotor schools and instructors dotted around the UK, but there are also some that you need to avoid. To make it easy for you to find a good place to train, we’ve put a list together of all the best schools the UK has to offer. Click here and scroll down past the US schools list to view the UK options.
Take some time to research your chosen school and instructor, and look at reviews from previous students to ensure you get the best training possible. If reviews of your nearest paramotor instructor don’t meet your expectations, then choose another. Don’t just settle for them because they’re the closest to you, your safety depends on this person, so it’s worth travelling a little further for better training.
Where can you buy paramotors in the UK?
If you plan on buying brand new gear there’s no shortage of paramotor and wing dealers in the UK, and a quick search online should bring up lots of options.
You can save a little by going direct to the manufacturer, and we have one of the biggest paramotor manufacturers in the world right here in the UK. Parajet are based in Shaftesbury and the team are always welcoming and willing to help new pilots, and you can even get a tour of their factory to see how Parajet paramotors are made.
If you have a tighter budget, you can save a lot of money by buying yourself a second hand paramotor and wing. It’s easy to make mistakes when buying second hand paramotors, so we’ve put together a second hand buyers guide to help you find a bargain that won’t fail you the first time you fly it. Click here to see the guide.
You’ll also want to click here to find out how to choose a paramotor. Beginners often fail to realise how much paramotors can vary and how many different options are available to them, so this guide is essential.
Choosing your wing will also be difficult without proper knowledge, so check out the wing guide here.
Although we don’t get flyable conditions every single day, the UK still has plenty of opportunities to get in the air, and stats for this website show that the UK is the second most popular place to fly paramotors after the US, with an estimated 4500 pilots currently flying here.
If you’d like to see some paramotors in action, or speak to some pilots to see if the sport is really for you, we also have some big fly-in events that run every summer. This is basically a gathering of paramotor pilots who meet in a huge field, fly, camp, and have a good ol’ booze up in the evenings!
One fly-in that never fails to impress me is the paramotor club fly-in that is held in a different location every year, but always attracts hundreds of interesting pilots, and somehow always gets good weather!
You can also reach out to pilots on the paramotor club forum, or by checking out the paramotor UK group on Facebook.