Our sport is growing rapidly, and as more people start to see these unfamiliar aircraft overhead they come up with their own names or ways of describing them. I’ve heard everything from paragliding with a fan, to fan parachute glider, but what is the real name for these amazing aircraft and how do you learn to fly one? Keep reading to find out.
What is a parachute with a fan called?
When someone describes an unfamiliar aircraft they saw as a parachute with a fan, they’re most likely referring to a paramotor. A paramotor uses a parachute type wing, with a light and powerful 2-stroke engine surrounded by a cage that resembles a large fan.
This is basically paragliding with an engine, and the history of these aircraft dates back to the 1980’s when paragliding pilots (who need thermals or strong wind to fly) decided that they needed an easier way to keep themselves aloft.
Although there are tens of thousands of pilots around the world, the community is still fairly small compared to many other forms of aviation, but in recent years with various paramotoring YouTube videos going viral, we’ve seen a massive increase in the number of paramotor pilots, and people who are very curious about this amazing sport.
Paramotoring is very accessible, you don’t need a pilot’s license, paramotors are very simple to maintain and safe to fly aircraft, and it’s the cheapest way to achieve powered flight.
Other names that regular people give to paramotors may include:
- powered paraglider
- parachute with an engine
- fan paragliding
- motorized parasailing
- parachute with a fan on their back
- paraglider with an engine
- fan hang glider
- parasailing with a fan on back
- fan parachute glider
- powered parachute
Was it a powered parachute with a fan?
The only other aircraft that use a similar fan system to paramotors is a powered parachute, also known as a PPC or paraplane. These are similar to wheeled paramotors or paramotor trikes, they also use a parachute type wing, and a fan type engine setup to power the aircraft, but they do differ slightly.
The wing is much less efficient than even the most basic paramotor wing, and is much closer to a regular parachute. Powered parachutes are often 2 seaters that require a sport pilot’s license in the USA, or a private pilot’s license in the UK to fly legally.
If you’re unfamiliar with either of these aircraft, you can usually tell the difference between a paramotor and a powered parachute by looking at the pilots hands. A paramotor is steered in-flight by two brake toggles connected to the wing that the pilot will hold in his hands. These brake toggles are positioned just above shoulder height, so when you spot one the pilot’s hands will usually be on the controls, and held high.
A powered parachute is steered in-flight by the pilots feet which will always be on a bar directly in front of him. This means the pilots hands will not be held high, and is a good way to distinguish between the two.
If the aircraft had no wheels, you can bet that what you saw was a foot launched paramotor, everybody’s favourite of the two!
When I tell a regular person I love to fly paramotors, they’ll always look at me in confusion and ask what one of those are. My favourite way to describe it is by calling it a paraglider with an engine, as most people will know what a paraglider is.
So you’re still curious about these unusual aircraft, but have no idea how to start paramotoring. Let’s look at the basics of how to start.
How to get into paramotoring
If you’re wondering how you get into paramotoring you’ve come to the right place, as paramotor planet is full of helpful information for new and aspiring paramotor pilots. Start by checking out our helpful posts by clicking here, and get our bestselling paramotor pilot’s training manual here.
When you’re ready to take the plunge, you can either start with a tandem flight to get a taste of what to expect, or you can book your paramotor training course and become a pilot within the next couple of weeks!
A tandem flight will give you a great introduction to the sport. During a tandem paramotor flight you’ll get to experience some amazing new sensations that only a paramotor can provide.
A lot of people think paramotoring will be comparable to flying in a plane, but it’s really like no other form of flight. Being completely unsurrounded with no scenery blocking cockpit gives you a real sense of freedom. It’s kind of like comparing a 7 seat family car to a single seat superbike, it’s on a totally different level.
Paramotor training will usually last around a week and will be enough to get you into the air for your first solo flight. Unfortunately this isn’t usually enough, and most people will go back for further lessons, or an intermediate course. This is why it’s better to find a school that offers a package that includes unlimited training within a 12 month period for example.
What are the costs of the equipment?
The paramotor (the fan part) consists of a metal frame, engine, and a large loop cage that protects the pilot and lines from the fast spinning propeller. It’ll also have a harness similar to a climbing harness that will tightly strap the pilot to the frame. This is the most expensive part, and will cost anything from $2000 second hand, to $7500 for a top of the range brand new machine.
They’re not cheap when you buy new, but you can check out our full beginners guide on how to save big by buying a quality used paramotor.
The next thing you’ll need is a wing (the parachute part). These will range in price from $1000 for a used wing to $4500 for a high quality new wing. and again you can go to the link above to save yourself some money buy buying used.
Buying the correct wing is important, and it’s something that many beginners get wrong. There are lots of different things to consider from your weight, to your level of experience. It’s more than just choosing a pretty wing that has a nice design, and that’s why I created a paramotor wing guide to help you find exactly what you need.
The cool thing about paramotoring is that once you have the equipment it will last you a very long time, and it is very low maintenance.
There’s also a few other important things to get that won’t break the bank, find out what these are here.
Now you’ve had a brief introduction to the sport, and you know what that strange paraglider with a fan parachute is actually called, how about learning a little more? You’ll definitely be curious about how far you can fly on one of these things, so take a look at this page, you’ll be surprised just how far we can travel on a single tank of fuel!