Recently updated on March 23rd, 2023 at 11:57 am
There’s a common understanding that you need to be a certain age to fly a paramotor, and that kids can only fly if they’re in tandem, or taken up by another pilot on a trike. This may be true in some instances, but what do the regulations say, do you need to be 18? And is there a maximum age that a pilot can be?
In most cases there is actually no age requirements or restrictions for paramotor pilots, but this is country specific. In the US and UK for example, there are no age restrictions whatsoever, but you may still find that instructors will only teach people that are over a certain age.
In other countries like Australia for example, The Sports Aviation Federation of Australia (SAFA) sets their minimum age at 15 with written parental consent also needed. While in Canada you’ll need to wait until you’re 16, and you’ll also need to obtain a license.
So in the US and UK kids can fly paramotors?
In the US and UK paramotor operation is unregulated, which means there is no license required to fly one. So basically yes, kids can learn to fly paramotors, but as previously mentioned, many paramotor flight schools and instructors will set limits, and to be fair there has to be a limit.
We were all kids once, and if you look back you probably had very little sense of danger, and no fear whatsoever, this could be dangerous in the sport of paramotoring due to the inherent risks involved. This is why the FAA in the US sets its age requirement at 16 (for gliders) for obtaining a sport license, and BHPA (British hang gliding & paragliding association) schools in the UK also won’t teach you until you’re at least 16.
There are many instructors who will set their limits lower than age 16, and you can find plenty of examples of very young kids flying paramotors all over the internet.
The video below shows an 11 year old kid flying a custom made paramotor, and in the video he’s on flight number 699! I agree that some kids are far more cognitively mature than others, and this particular kid is a good example of an able young pilot.
Although this is amazing to see, parents need to asses their child’s physical and mental abilities before letting them fly a paramotor. The minimum age requirement set by many instructors at 16 is, in most cases appropriate, but there may be exceptions for more mature kids as in the video above.
I’m a parent and my kids want to fly paramotors, should I let them?
This one depends on a few things that will vary from child to child:
Your kids strength
Paramotors aren’t light, and most kids under the age of 14 will struggle to lift one on their back. You’re looking at just shy of a 20kg weight for even the lightest paramotor currently available, and don’t forget this weight goes up with a tank of fuel and a reserve parachute attached. This is why the 11 year old kid in the video above had a specially made smaller sized paramotor.
It’s not only about lifting the paramotor either, before flying, an essential hang test needs to be carried out. This is done to make sure the paramotor is balanced during flight, and if the pilot is too light you may not be able to find an appropriate hang setting on the paramotor.
When they launch and land, kids also need to be able to run with the paramotor’s weight on their back. If you think your kid will struggle, then a paramotor trike may be another option. A paramotor trike is basically a paramotor on wheels, the only downfall is that they generally require a larger launch field, but they may make a good alternative if your kid isn’t strong enough to hold the weight of a regular paramotor on their back.
If a trike isn’t an option, paragliding, rather than paramotoring may be another route you could take, as there is no heavy frame and engine to lift. It’s also a lot cheaper to start, and all you really need is a wing, harness, and helmet along with good instruction to get in the air.
In the video below you’ll see many young kids flying paragliders, one is even as young as 3 and taking to the air with her dad’s help.
Paramotor wings are certified with a minimum weight limit, this means that many kids simply won’t weigh enough to use a paramotor wing. If you can’t find a suitable paramotor wing, another option is a paragliding wing. Paragliding wings tend to have a lower weight requirement, but you’ll need to do your research and speak to manufacturers to find a suitable wing for your child’s current weight, and one that’s also suitable for powered flight.
Your kids cognitive abilities and maturity
This is the big one. All kids develop and mature at different speeds, some 12 years olds will be more mentally mature than 16 year olds, and these are the kids who may make good safe young pilots. This is something you as a parent will need to assess, because the kid will always tell you they are more mature than they actually are.
Paramotoring generally isn’t cheap, I’ve got a post that goes over all of the paramotoring costs HERE so take a look and decide if you can afford to buy the equipment, training, and all of the other paramotoring essentials for your kid.
And remember, if your kid isn’t strong enough to lift a paramotor, you’ll need to get one specially built by a reputable manufacturer, this may cost more than buying a regular paramotor, especially if they don’t already have the jigs and tooling required to build it. Manufacturers who have previously built paramotors for younger pilots, or special paramotors for smaller / weaker people will be the ones to speak to first, as they’ll probably still have the necessary jigs etc.
Other paramotoring options for young future pilots
If paramotoring is currently out of reach for you as a young person, stop worrying about how old you are as there are lots of other ways to get into the sport and experience the thrill of flight while you wait to reach the necessary age.
GET YOURSELF A CHEAP OLD HARNESS AND WING AND START PRACTISING!
When you train to become a paramotor pilot, you’ll always start by learning to ground handle. This is the most important thing for a pilot to learn as it teaches you how to launch your wing, and also wing control in windy conditions.
You can learn the basics by getting yourself a copy of my awesome eBook HERE, and then you can use the information in it to teach yourself ground handling and forward launches. And all you’ll need is a second hand training harness, and a cheap old wing.
You can easily find cheap paramotor / paragliding wings that are no longer suitable for flight because they have reached the limit of safe operation hours, but they’re still OK to learn ground handling with. Search on sites like eBay, and the Facebook paramotor and paragliding selling pages, there’s always pilots trying to get rid of their old kit.
This also goes for harnesses, you can get a new one LIKE THIS pretty cheap, or search for a second hand one. It could be as tatty as you like, you don’t need to fly with it, you just need it to practise until you’re ready to get your paramotor.
GO FOR A TANDEM PARAMOTOR FLIGHT
Tandem flights are a great way to experience what it’s like to fly a paramotor, and they aren’t super expensive. Ask your parents to get you one for your next birthday! You’ll usually get 30-60 minutes of flying for your money, and it’ll put you a step ahead when it comes time for your training.
One of the first steps in paramotor training often includes a tandem flight from your instructor, so you’ll already have that first step of instruction under your belt.
During the tandem flight you’ll be able to take the controls and steer the paramotor, you may be handed the throttle to increase and decrease altitude if you’re high enough, and you’ll get to experience some of the awesome sensations of flying these amazing aircraft.
Bare in mind that some instructors will also refuse to carry kids under a certain age, but you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that will take you up. I’ve seen 3 year old kids flying tandem, so the minimum age for a tandem flight really just depends on which specific pilot or instructor you choose to fly with.
Check out my post on tandem flying and find out what to expect as a passenger HERE.
For parents reading this, it’s important to note that paramotoring, as with all other forms of aviation does come with risks, and the safety of your child should be a top priority. Be sure to find an experienced pilot, make sure he follows all safety procedures, does a hang test, gives your child a properly fitting certified helmet, and talks them through the whole of what to expect during take off, in flight and when landing. If you feel unsure at any time, go to someone else.
LEARN ALL ABOUT THE SPORT OF PARAMOTORING
A lot of the things you need to know about paramotoring are learned in the air while flying, and on the ground when ground handling, but there are lots of things you can learn wile you’re waiting. Get yourself as many books as possible and learn all about the theoretical side, from safety to weather, these are all super important things for pilots to know.
Ask questions to experienced pilots in person, or on forums, and also check the comments on this website underneath posts as you’ll see lots of comments from beginners on certain posts. You can also take a multiple choice test that we put together HERE. This test is really meant to be taken after reading my paramotoring book of knowledge, but you can have a go now just for fun.
Pilots can never learn too much theory, it’ll make you a much better, safer pilot, and if you’re a young future pilot waiting to reach the age needed to fly, you’ll be a massive step ahead when it comes to starting your practical paramotor training.
What about the upper age limit for paramotoring
There’s currently no upper age limit for flying paramotors in any country. Pilot’s should asses their own physical and mental health before seeking training, but a fit and healthy 90 year old would easily be accepted for training by most instructors.
When I learned to fly paramotors I was 28, this was in 2013 and it was rare to find a pilot younger than myself. As the sport gained popularity many younger pilots came along, but the majority of those pilots when I started were all in their 50’s and 60’s.
My girlfriend used to joke to me and call it a mid life crisis sport haha, and even though we have many more young pilots entering the sport, the average paramotor pilot age is still 45 meaning there are still lots of older pilots.
Over the years I’ve met many even older pilots all over the country, and online I’ve even seen paramotor pilots happily flying into their 80’s. Here’s a good example, Richard Weston was 82 years old in the video below, this is a great inspiration for older pilots and those just starting out, and proof that you’re never too old to learn to fly a paramotor, and make your dreams of flight come true.
If you’re suffering with back, hip, or knee problems, don’t write paramotoring off, as many older pilots with these conditions still enjoy paramotoring by using a paramotor trike. There’s even paraplegic pilots flying paramotors, so there really is no limits for those with any of the issues listed above.
The next step for young future paramotor pilots
Whether you’re a young future pilot, or a parent looking into the sport, the next step is to find suitable instruction. Talk to instructors and flying schools about how they train kids, and find out if they’ve ever trained kids of the same age as you before. If they have, see if they can put you in touch with the kid, because you’ll have lots of questions for them.
The sport of paramotoring is amazing, and I really wish I’d discovered it as a kid! Even if you can’t get training until you’re 16, you’re never too young to start learning and training by using the other ways that I mentioned earlier in this post.
If you’re a young pilot, or if you’re thinking about starting paramotoring, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Whether you already fly, or if you’re just looking into paramotoring for the first time, let us know about anything from difficulties finding a school that will train you, persuading your parents, or buying the equipment.
Keep on expanding your paramotoring knowledge by going to THIS POST next, where you’ll learn how to fly a paramotor!