Paramotoring is a massive learning curve, and no training course could possibly cover everything in just 7 days! Instructors will teach students how to launch, fly, and land a paramotor safely, but there's lots of things you'll have to find out for yourself. My instructor gave me some great tips and tricks, but I discovered everything in this list myself outside of training.
Some of the tips and tricks listed below have saved my butt on multiple occasions. Start using them today to get a head start, and to take any stress out of paramotoring, let's get to it...
Early morning and late evening flights are some of the best, but there may be very little wind. This can be a big problem for new pilots, but I've also seen experienced pilots struggling to launch because they can't find the wind direction.
You may find low velocity wind socks or streamers that detect very low wind speeds hang still indicating zero wind. You may even throw some grass up in the air and find that it falls straight down. Although it may seem like there's zero wind this is very rare, the windsock/grass is simply too heavy.
A simple trick that I use when my streamers hang still is to blow some bubbles. I discovered this when my kids left their bubbles in my car and I needed a wind indicator, it works great! I've also used smoke bombs that burn red smoke for 15 seconds. The red cloud will slowly move across the field giving a perfect wind direction indication.
Being just slightly off the wind line can make launching very difficult, especially for new pilots. This tip will make things so much easier for you when your windsock hangs still.
Get a windsock!
It's quite surprising how many pilots I see set up and launch without thinking about a windsock. If there's plenty of wind it's easy to find the wind direction and launch. But if the wind drops off and changes direction before you land you may be in for a shock.
If there's no windsock on the ground how will you know which direction to land? You could easily end up landing downwind which could be very fast. This could lead to broken propellers, cages, or even body parts. I recently saw a video of somebody landing downwind, he fell and broke his arm!
Get yourself a windsock and a pole that's at least five meters long. Pack it every time you go flying and always set it up in the centre of the field.
Pull start bungee
If your engine has a pull starter then this tip is essential as reaching back to find the pull chord can be very difficult. If the engine cuts out mid flight you'll need to start the engine as quickly as possible, if you're flying low you may only have seconds to act.
When my engine cut out during training I couldn't reach my pull chord so I had to make an emergency landing. To make the chord easier to reach/find, I now attach a coiled bungee chord to the handle.
Another good reason to use a bungee is to keep your pull starter safe. I recently saw a video of somebody who's pull starter got sucked into their propeller, destroying the starter chord and propeller. The pilot went on to say it wouldn't have happened if he'd fitted a bungee!
To fit your bungee simply attach it using a carabiner and attach the other end to the harness. When you need to find the starter handle you can pull on the bungee and just like magic it'll appear! You can check out the bungee I use HERE.
Stuff sack for emergencies
When you launch you should always take your stuff sack with you. If for any reason you have to land miles away from your field you may have a long walk to the nearest road. Carrying an unpacked wing while trying to walk with a 30 KG paramotor on your back isn't pleasant.
If you have your stuff sack you can pack your wing away along with any other gear like your helmet, gloves etc. You can then tie it to your cage, this will make the trek much easier. I fold up my stuff sack and pack it in the large pocket underneath the seat before every flight. Most paramotors should have enough pocket space to accommodate a stuff sack.
Fuel check mirror
When you're flying long distances the rate at which your engine burns fuel will always vary. It's sometimes very difficult, and on many paramotors impossible to see the fuel tank in flight. This means a lot of guess work is involved when working out how much fuel is left in the tank.
You can buy fuel gauges but these are often difficult to fit and involve some butchery, like drilling the tank! These gauges are expensive, they add weight, and are not always accurate.
A simpler and much cheaper way to check your fuel level is to use a mirror. I bought myself a telescopic inspection mirror like this one on Amazon > Telescopic Mirror. The mirror will fold up nice and small, and easily fits into a pocket on my harness or my flight suit.
Fit an hour meter
If you've just bought your paramotor or wing the last thing you'll be thinking of is servicing it or even selling it. But at some point you're wing will need inspecting and and one day you'll sell it to upgrade. You'll also want to keep an eye on how many hours your paramotor is clocking up as parts need servicing at regular intervals.
Get yourself an > hour meter < like the one you can see in the picture. These are very easy to fit and have a built in battery that lasts years. You simply wrap the wire around the coil lead and attach the hour meter to the paramotor frame with some cable ties to avoid drilling.
Whenever the engine is started the hour meter will begin counting making it easy to time your flights and count the hours on your equipment.
Always carry your phone
Never head off on a flight without your phone. If you have to make an emergency landing you may come down miles away from your launch field. Without a way to contact a friend or family member you could have a very long walk back to your field with heavy kit.
You should also think of the worst case scenario. No pilot wants to think about it, but what if you break an ankle during landing? Even if you're at your own field you may not be able to walk all of the way to your car to grab your phone. Keep it in your flight suit or harness pocket where it's easy to reach. It'll also come in handy for snapping some epic aerial photos and selfies!
This is something I neglected to do for the first two years of flying as it wasn't a necessity. I then heard of a pilot crashing into a house and causing massive damage to the roof. Then I found out about a pilot that crashed into some power lines costing his insurance company thousands.
A simple engine out could lead to an emergency landing, and you may have to land in some tight spots. If you land on somebodies property and cause damage the person will want compensation. This could end up getting you into serious trouble and costing you big money. It's always best to have at least third party insurance, and you'll be glad to know it isn't expensive to get covered.
I buy my yearly policy with AXA for about £120. You'll receive an insurance certificate and a card to keep in your wallet which includes all of your policy details.
Mark your bolts
This is a great tip that I had to find out the hard way during training. I had gone over my paramotor checking for loose bolts but I neglected to check a bleed nipple on the clutch housing. During a training flight this nipple came loose and fell out destroying my propeller. Read more about this HERE.
You should check all nuts and bolts on the paramotor engine and frame regularly to make sure none have come loose. Something I use that makes these checks much easier is something called Dykem Cross-Check to visually detect loose nuts & bolts.
You simply squeeze a blob onto the edge of the bolt heads, and if they come loose you'll see a crack appear in the marker. This means you don't have to check each bolt using a spanner making pre-flight inspections much quicker. You can find this awesome stuff on Amazon here > Dykem Cross-Check.
Pack some tools
When you buy a paramotor most manufacturers give you a basic toolkit. This is great but you'll soon realise that you need a few more tools for when things go wrong. There's also some other essentials I always take with me.
Get yourself a dedicated paramotoring kit bag and pack everything on this list to keep your paramotor ready for action > LIST HERE.
You can also find out what other equipment will help you to stay safe and have more enjoyable flights > HERE.
Paramotor tips and tricks round-up
Thanks for checking out my paramotor tips and tricks, I'm sure they'll come in super handy for you! Although there are some awesome tips and tricks in this list you will find even more tips scattered around this site. From the basics of paramotoring to avoiding serious accidents, this site is full of great tips for all pilots.
If you have any of your own paramotor tips and tricks feel free to share them below in the comments!