Paramotor wing guide beginners tips

Paramotor wing guide: How to pick a PPG wing for beginners

Last updated on April 8th, 2019 at 02:25 pm

When you're ready to choose a wing, you'll discover that there's a massive selection on the market. Not all of these are suited to beginners, so it's important to know exactly what you're looking for. There's a lot to consider, and lots of beginner mistakes to avoid, so this paramotor wing guide will help make your choice much easier.

This wing guide is aimed at pilots that have completed their paramotor training, and have already taken their first flights.

Choosing a wing rating and paramotor wing certification

When choosing a wing it's important to take ratings into consideration. There are various rating systems which are used to determine the flight characteristics, safety, and pilot skills required to fly the wing safely.

Different manufacturers use different systems, with different principles or procedures. So lets look at some of the systems you'll find in your search for a wing.

EN PARAGLIDER CERTIFICATION

The EN paraglider certification (link to reports) classifies gliders as ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or ‘D’. These classes are issued in terms of the glider’s ‘flight characteristics’, and the ‘pilot skills’ required to fly the machine safely. Pilots can then read the flight characteristics and pilot skills descriptors, and decide which of the four categories best matches their current skill level.

These tests are not best suited for paramotor wings, and have really been designed for paragliders. Some paramotor wing manufacturers continue to use the EN 926-2 rating system, some have developed other classifications that we'll get to later.

On leaving the factory, some paragliders are equipped with a trimmer tape lock. The gliders risers have a plastic buckle blocking trimmer use, as such, the paraglider confirms to EN standards. Remember, the paraglider was not certified in any other configuration than fully closed trims!

EN-A

Flight characteristics - Paragliders with the maximum level of passive-safety. EN-A Certified Paragliders are extremely forgiving, and show exceptional resistance to deviation from normal flight.

Pilot skills - EN-A Certified Paragliders are designed for all pilots, and suitable for any level of training. These are great for pilots with less than 1 year of flight experience. Or for those who fly less than twice a month, or less than twenty five hours per year.

EN-B

Flight characteristics - EN-B Certified Paragliders display good passive-safety, and forgiving flight characteristics. The glider must have some resistance to deviation from normal flight.

Pilot skills - EN-B Certified Paragliders are designed for all pilots, and are suitable for any level of training. There are a wide range of gliders on the market fitting this category.

Some wings in this category are actually closer to “EN-A” gliders. The rest are for pilots that have more than thirty hours flying experience in various conditions. At least 10 of these hours should have been in thermic conditions.

EN-B Certified Paragliders are commonly flown by pilots with “ratings” or “certifications,” and are suitable for those who fly no less than 50 hours per year.

EN-C

Flight characteristics -EN-C Certified Paragliders have moderate levels of passive safety. They have the potential to display dynamic reactions to turbulence or pilot error. Precise pilot input may be required to recover the wing to normal flying during turbulence.

Pilot skills - These gliders are designed to be flown by pilots familiar with recovery techniques, and those that regularly fly actively. The pilot must fully understand the implications of flying a glider with reduced passive safety.

EN-C gliders are for pilots that have an advanced rating or certification, and have logged several hundred flight hours in all conditions, including regular flying in thermic conditions. Pilots should have completed SIV courses, are flying ten or more hours per month, and are comfortable dealing with large asymmetric collapses.

EN-D

Flight characteristics - EN-D Certified Paragliders have demanding flight characteristics. They can have potentially violent reactions to turbulence or pilot error. Precise pilot input will be required for recovery to normal flight during turbulence.

Pilot skills - These gliders are designed for pilots well practised in wing recovery techniques, and who fly very actively. Pilots should have significant experience flying in turbulent conditions, and accept the implications of flying such a wing.

Pilots should fly for many years before considering an EN-D certified paraglider. Various advanced manoeuvres or SIV skills must be mastered to fly such a glider, and pilots should fly no less than 200 hours a year, and often in strong conditions.

DGAC certification / approval

DGAC stands for Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile, and is the French civil aviation authority.  It issues a certificate of airworthiness for ultralight aircraft, and is recognised in France, Germany, and other EU countries. The tests are done by the wing manufacturers who confirm compliance to DGAC, who then issue the type approval.

A couple of examples of manufacturers using DGAC certification are Dudek and Paramania. You'll be able to view a copy of the certification, where you can check that it's been signed and stamped by the Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile.

The DGAC certificate is issued on the basis of passing load test,s and flying under power / propulsion. Wings are tested under certain weather conditions, and at the maximum take-off weight. The following are assessed:

  • Flight characteristics of the wing
  • Behaviour during takeoff
  • Speed parameters during straight flight
  • Behaviour when placing the wing in a deep (dynamic) turn
  • Behaviour during landing
  • Longitudinal stability during accelerated flight control
  • Longitudinal stability when leaving accelerated flight

LTF / DHV CERTIFICATION

In January 2008, the Paragliding manufacturers association made an agreement to change the name of glider ratings, from DHV to LTF. Now, multiple testing companies are able to issue LTF ratings with the same standards.

As with the EN rating system, each wing will be given a rating for the level of pilot skills required for safe operation. LTF ratings include 1, 1-2, 2, 2-3, and competition, or 3 as shown below.

1 - Paragliders with simple, and very forgiving flying characteristics.

1-2 - Paragliders with good-natured flying characteristics.

2- Paragliders with demanding flying characteristics, and potentially dynamic reactions to turbulence and pilot errors. These gliders are recommended for pilots that fly regularly.

2-3 - Paragliders with very demanding flying characteristics, and potentially violent reactions to turbulence, and pilot errors. These gliders are recommended for experienced and regularly flying pilots.

3 - Paragliders with very demanding flying characteristics, and potentially very violent reactions to turbulence and pilot errors. These gliders have little scope for pilot errors, and are for expert pilots only.

Any safety relevant observations of the test pilot which are not covered by the standardised test flight evaluation, are quoted under "Additional flight safety remarks" at the end of the test report.

wing guide for paramotor ppg

So with all of this in mind, beginner paramotor pilots that have completed their training should be looking at EN-A, or EN-B wings. If you find the manufacturer uses LTF testing, you should be looking for an LTF-1, or LTF 1-2 certified wing. DGAC approval isn't essential, but it is preferred.

Wing loading: What size paramotor wing do I need

When choosing a wing it's important to check the PPG weight range, this will look something like 85-120 KG. You need to weigh yourself fully geared-up, to get an accurate in-flight weight. This weight should include pilot + paramotor + fuel + reserve + helmet + any other gear you fly with.

If the weight range is, for example, 85-120 KG, the wing will have a 35 KG range. It's always better to be in the mid to upper range of the spectrum. Mid range would be 102.5 KG, so anything between this, and 120 KG will be a perfect all-up pilot weight for that particular wing.

It's important to choose the correct weight range for a number of reasons. I mentioned that it's better to be in the mid to upper weight range, this is because the wing will be more resistant to collapses.

A lightly loaded wing will be more likely to collapse in turbulence, while heavily loaded wings are less prone to a collapse. But bare in mind, that when heavily loaded wings do collapse, the reaction will be more extreme.

A wing has been tested from the lower, through to the upper weight range, so stay within the specified range. If you're outside of the specified weight range, you're also flying outside the certification for the wing. This could be dangerous, and will also void your insurance in the event of an accident.

If you choose a wing that's too small, you'll also have a hard time launching, as it simply won't be producing enough lift for your weight. If you do manage to get off the ground, your landing speed will also be very fast. Other than that, you'll have more aggressive handling, bad fuel economy, and more stress on the materials. Take your time choosing the correct size wing, weigh everything on a scales, and don't use guess work.

The fastest wing: What is a reflex paramotor wing

paramotor wing guide full

Most paramotor pilots like the idea of flying places faster, even if it means burning a little extra fuel to get there. Reflex wings are faster than standard / classic paragliding wings, and much safer if flown right. But what makes a reflex wing different to a standard paragliding wing?

To maintain a higher speed, a wing needs to fly at a lower angle of attack (AOA, which you can read about HERE). Unfortunately, a lower AOA makes a standard paragliding wing much less stable.

The main difference between reflex and standard paragliders is their shape. The reflex airfoil is able to aid the wing in turbulence by changing the point of lift on the wing.

The A and B lines will be extremely loaded when the wing is trimmed to the fast position (reflex mode). As the trimmers are released, and the glider’s AOA decreases, the lift point and centre of pressure moves forward on the airfoil. This increases stability and lift, and makes the wing much more difficult to collapse.

Are reflex wings safer?

There are a few things to be aware of when flying reflex wings. Although a reflex wing is much more resistant to collapses, they can still happen if flown in strong turbulence. If pilots get lulled into a false sense of security and start flying in stronger conditions, they could end up in serious trouble. A collapse at a higher speed will be far more dynamic, and more difficult to control.

Another thing to note, is that most manufacturers recommend against using the brakes while trimmed to the fast position. If a reflex wing is trimmed fast and unloads while you're pulling brake, it's far more likely to collapse on the side that's being pulled.

This is why a reflex wing will be equipped with wing tip steering toggles, to use instead of the brakes when in fast mode. Some reflex wings will allow brake use in fast mode, but even these models are more likely to suffer from wing tip collapses if the brakes are pulled during turbulence.

You should never in any situation use brakes while trimmed out and on speedbar. The wing is very stable in this mode, but not if the brakes are pulled. And speedbar should never be used while the wing is trimmed to slow.

One last thing to consider, is that you will burn more fuel when trimmed to fast mode. But if you want a safer, faster wing, with less chance of a collapse, then choose a reflex wing. You'll be able to penetrate stronger winds, but don't be fooled by thinking they won't collapse, as they most certainly can if pushed hard enough.

How long does a paramotor wing last

The life of a paramotor wing really depends on many different factors. Somebody flying on a beach in Spain will most definitely see a shorter wing life than somebody flying from an inland field in England. The age of the wing will also be a factor, even if the wing has never been flown! But why? Let's look at some of the main reasons why a wing deteriorates..

UV light

All polymeric materials and fabrics degrade underneath the sun, so the more sun exposure your wing gets, the quicker it will degrade. Paramotor wings are made from nylon, UV light degrades the nylon with exposure through chemical degradation. The problem is known as UV degradation, and is a common problem in products exposed to sunlight.

Salt

Porosity of a wing can increase dramatically on wings that have been in, or even near salt water. Once gliders get salt on them, they attract moisture which will increase degradation. On top of that, the minute salt crystals abrade the nylon enough to cause serious degradation, and increase porosity.

Salt crystals will also get into the lines, which then become very abrasive when they're dry. These tiny crystals can then abrade the lines as they move, this means the lines will wear out much faster.

Mechanical stress

Inflating, deflating, and large amounts of mechanical stress on a wing will shorten it's life. Ground handling is important, but if you do a lot of it, it's best to practice on an old, less important wing. Manufacturer warranties which claim 300 hrs, will exclude acro because of the large amounts of stress placed on the wing.

Age

Nylon will degrade with age, even if the wing is sat in its bag at home. You could easily account for 20-40 hours of flying time equivalent per year, just by leaving the wing in the bag in a cupboard.

Something which reduces the integrity of nylon is ozone. Ozone has high oxidising potential, and is always present in small quantities in atmospheric oxygen. Over time, ozone will degrade the wing fabric, even if it's stored in a bag, in a dry and dark area. This type of oxidative damage is extremely hard to prevent, especially to such sensitive fabrics.

I remember a story of a vintage wing that had never been flown, failing a porosity test. The wing looked brand new and had only been out of the bag once, but age had taken it's toll and destroyed the wing in its own bag!

Hours

The longer you fly a wing, the more porous it will become. With good care you should be able to get 300 - 600 hours use out of a paramotor wing. Bare everything above in mind, and take good care of your wing. Keep it dry, store it in the dark, fold it correctly, and have regular inspections to check porosity, line strength, etc.

Used paramotor wings

If you're thinking of buying a used paramotor wing, you should consider everything in the previous section of this wing guide. Find out how many hours the wing has flown, and some of its history. You'll also want a current model, so you're flying modern and up to date technology.

Before buying the wing, it's extremely important to get a test report. This report will tell you the general condition of the wing, the results of porosity tests, line strength check, and any repairs made or needed. If the seller doesn't have a test report, ask them to get one; if they refuse, then don't buy it. It's also best to go and view the wing in person, rather than buying online on sites like eBay.

Check out my full guide to paramotoring while on a budget HERE.

The best paramotor wings for beginners

With everything we've learned so far in this paramotor wing guide, you should now have a good idea of how to choose the best wing for yourself. One last thing to consider is the colour choice, this isn't just a case of aesthetics, but an actual safety issue.

A paramotor is usually quite easy for other pilots to spot in the air from below. But aircraft flying above you may find it hard to notice you, and the wing colour may make it more difficult.

For example: if you do most of your flying around rolling green hills or trees, then a green wing probably isn't the best choice. It'll be like flying a camouflaged wing, making it blend in with the surroundings. Choose a wing that stands out against the scenery that you fly over the most.

Other things to consider when choosing a wing

Sink rate - The rate of decrease in altitude is referred to as the rate of descent (RoD), or sink rate. This will usually be quoted in meters per second.

Glide ratio - The instantaneous ratio of rate of fall to horizontal speed for a glider with the engine switched off. Or, the maximum ratio of rate of fall to horizontal speed that a glider can maintain.

Trim Slow/fast, and maximum speed - Manufacturers will quote the speed of the wing at different trim settings, and the maximum speed with speedbar fully engaged.

Glider Weight - The weight of the wing, usually in KG. Lighter wings may be easier to launch in lower wind speeds.

I hope this paramotor wing guide has been helpful. When you've chosen your wing, you can check out my other guide to help you with your choice of paramotor > HERE.

And find out all of the equipment you'll need to start flying > HERE.

Comments

  1. Hello Darrell
    I am training to fly a paramotor and considering buying my first wing, I am going to by one of two wings the ….. Ozone Mojo pwr and the Dudex universal 1.1, I would appreciate your opinion with regard to these two wings and the suitability for a novice such as me.
    Many thanks
    Stewart

  2. WHY aren’t all modern reflex wing DHV – LTF or EN tested? This makes no sense to me! So its great fun, fast and stable but safety is not to be mentionned?

  3. Still doesn’t answer the question does it, what new pilot has all the equipment, never mind how much it ways, how accurate does it really need to be ?
    This is how much I weigh, given the normal weights of everything else what wing size should I get, is what a new pilot wants to know, you could make it simpler.

    1. Author

      I’m sorry you don’t understand Lawrence, but I really couldn’t make it any simpler. In answer to your question – There’s no such thing as a “normal weight.” Don’t buy your wing until you have everything else. Some paramotors weigh considerably more/less than others, and could take you above or below the weight range of the wing.

  4. Hey Darrel, what are your thoughts on the Scout Carbon Fiber Paramotor Moster Plus 185? Should this setup be ok for someone starting out or should it be left to those with better experience? These Paramotors aren’t cheap and don’t want to have to keep upgrading as with the wing.

    1. Author

      Hey Eric, I think the Scout Carbon is a great paramotor, that’s why I included it in my favourites HERE. But as a beginner I’d recommend avoiding the full carbon frame. Scout do the enduro frame that is aluminium, and although it as very slightly heavier (just 2.7 KG more), it will be much cheaper and easier to repair if you happen to have a hard landing, as most new pilots will at some point.
      I think the Moster is a great choice, I’ve flown with one for 3 years and love it. I did have a few issues that I put in my review HERE, but any paramotor engine will have little niggles over time. Good luck!

  5. Hello Darrell, it has always been a dream of mine to experience flight. When i say i am fanatical about safety it’s an understatement!!!!!. ( and so you should be i hear you say )anyway, thanks a million for your incredilbly detailed info on Paramotoring, it’s invaluable for someone like me who in the near future is hoping to enter this incredible sport, you are a credit to the sport , so thanks a million.

    1. Author

      You’re welcome Gordon. Yes, safety is super important as things can go wrong very quickly. Coming into the sport with a good attitude toward safety will be beneficial for your training, and for your long term enjoyment of the sport. I hope you get to fly soon, good luck!

    1. Author

      Hi Steve,
      I’ve never noticed any change in the way the wing behaves at high altitudes. Density altitude is more of a concern for our small 2-stroke engines, they do suffer pretty badly, and most noticeably after 10,000 ft. But to be honest, the climb rate is so slow that most paramotor pilots rarely fly above 5,000 ft.

  6. This will seem repetitive, but I agree: your site is really the best I came across while prepping for the paramotoring adventure. Thanks a lot, Darrell!

  7. Darrell….great stuff…thanks

    Hey, there’s a bad link on your Wing Guide page. It’s the first link on the page “EN Paraglider Certification”. Great site…I’m learning a lot

    1. Author

      Thanks for pointing that out for me Heywood, now corrected. I’m glad to hear the site is helping you!

  8. Nice review.
    I’m keen on getting into PPG and it’s actually surprising how little *good info there is on the web about gear/what to look for etc.

    Best advice I’ve heard so far is to also let your instructor help you choose the right gear!

    1. Author

      Thanks for the comment. Your instructor should be able to give you some good options, but be careful as most instructors are also dealers for certain brands, so they will be bias. That’s not always a bad thing, but I know some instructors who are selling outdated wings, and paramotors that I consider dangerous. Get some good options and do some research, and don’t always go with the first thing that’s offered to you. Good luck!

  9. Hello and thanks for a well-informed site. I’m looking into this sport as a means of transportation to my property as to cut down on the cost of the float plane, and to allow me the freedom to scout the area for other enjoyments as well.
    I have a question about the canopy. Can a paraglider canopy be used with a paramotor or is t a different canopy?
    My reason for asking is I live in Hawaii during the winter and the weather here is great for paragliding, but also spend a lot of time on my property in Alaska and did not want to buy 2 different canopies.

    any advice would be appreciated. tia Randy

    1. Author

      Hi Randy,

      You absolutely can use a paragliding wing for paramotoring, and vice versa. I can actually recommend a wing for you, as I know a few people that are using this particular wing for both disciplines. The Dudek Universal 1.1 has been designed for both free-flying and paramotoring, and being ENB rated it’s also a fantastic beginner wing. I fly a Dudek wing and I can tell you they really do make a brilliant glider. I hope this helps!

  10. Hey Darrell I’m a private pilot looking to get into Paramotor love your passion for the sport and find you have a lot of information regarding the sport.I downloaded your ebook and looking forward to doing some training keep up the good work. And I see you have the uk and us on your web site for Paramotor training and regulations are you going to include Canada in the future I think our regulations are more similar to the uk ?

    1. Author

      Hi Darren, thanks for checking out the website and downloading the eBook, I hope you find them both helpful. I do plan on covering the whole world eventually, but Canada and Australia are next on the list, along with some helpful videos. The rules for you guys are slightly different than ours in the UK. Training will obviously be the same, but it’s regulated under transport Canada, so you’ll need an ultra-light powered parachute permit. The permit seems pretty easy to obtain from what I hear, with Just 5 hours flying plus 30 launches and landings minimum, plus a written test as per the ultralight license. You’ll also have to register your paramotor and display a number, and sign a medical declaration. Insurance is also compulsory, which is a good thing in my opinion, we don’t need insurance to fly in the UK, but most pilots still have it, and I wouldn’t fly without it. Besides that everything else should be the same, apart from airspace of course; but as a private pilot I’m sure you’re already more than familiar with that. Hope this helps, thanks again!

      1. Hi Darrell , thanks for the help with info . I am a older person , I weigh in at 280lbs and trying to lose . I may in up on a trike if I can get confident in controlling a wing . So what can I look for in a wing and paramotor , weight , beginner . Eddie Knight

        1. Author

          Hi Eddie,
          You’ll do just fine with a trike, but to be honest, you may just about manage to foot launch, especially if you’re loosing weight. You’ll need a powerful motor like the Moster 185, and a large beginner wing, so just check the ratings and weight limits as described in this post.

  11. n
    Not often mentioned is, Sky Paragliders, you will not go wrong with these gliders , having flown for over 40 years i have purchased over 20 paragliders and hanggliders from many manufactures , the main companies , gin , ozone , dudek, paramania, apco, all have massive exposure, but the less mentioned are ignored , yet their dedication , choice of perfect cloth ,lines , risers, etc , are over looked , the cima power has a good speed (none reflex) perfect for the pilot that likes to power fly and power thermal , they have a semi reflex wing which has a nice flight platform , full reflex wings if you want more speed and more dynamic performance , if you want to test fly them all go to ukppg and speak to nigel he is a great guy and totally honest you wont go wrong , fact is , only you will no what you want so reserch talk to many people test fly and decide what is best for you , get it right first time and you will save loads of cash from not buying the wrong glider and when you have brought your choice of glider stick with it and fly it to its ultimate ability before moving on, then and only then are you ready to move up , if you need to ? safe flying ,and safe landings.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your input Bazz, I didn’t mention Sky here but they are recommended in my eBook. I carry a ‘Sky spare’ reserve, never tested it and I don’t wish to, but I have faith that if I ever needed it, it would be 100% reliable. Happy flying!

  12. Very helpful, AND I would love to see someone suggest different brands of paramotor wings from different manufacturers.

    I have no idea which wing to buy!
    🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Charlie, if you’re new to the sport you can look at wings like the Dudek Universal 1.1, Paramania Revo 3, Ozone Spark, or Ozone Rooadster 3. These are all fantastic wings from the best manufacturers in the sport.

    2. Most informative thing I have read since researching the sport of PPG. The most important thing keeping your butt in the air is your Airfoil. I used to fly a Quick Silver MX Ultra light. Have the bug really bad to get back up to the “Happy Place” and PPG would be perfect. The most disconcerting thing about the sport is all the name calling, bad mouthing, tantrum throwing tirades from a few of the supposed top motor brands. I don’t know what caused a bunch of adult men to start acting like two year olds fighting over whose Tonka truck is the best. I find it ridiculous and downright stupid. Tired of trying to figure out what would be best for me to strap to my a$! to push me skyward. On You tube or even their own Websites it’s all about ripping apart each others products and each other. I just started researching wings and your information is concise, to the point and straight forward. And you didn’t bad mouth anyone. It’s seams that the PPG elite that are in the (what I call the PPG wars) believe every one is going to be doing wing overs, foot drags and whoopteedoos. I will want a wing that will carry myself with motor attached to a trike into the air and cruise around just enjoying being in the sky. Safe and stable no big thrills. I personally don’t like bumpy air but at times you end up in it and I mean nasty ruff butt pucker air. So bumps make me nervous. Big o’l “A” rated wing for me. I will continue to browse your site and continue to try to figure out who is who with the motor issues. They are definitely not doing the sport any favors. Just the facts Jack that’s all us newbies want to know. Straight forward “honest” information.

      1. Author

        You’re right about the bad mouthing and tantrum throwing Todd. Unfortunately it’s not limited to the manufacturers, and many pilots behave exactly the same. I’ve been a part of many sports over the years, and I’ve never known anything like it. But fortunately there are some grown ups amongst us, and I’ve met some really great people in the sport.
        I hope you can find all of the information you need on this site; if not, just let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll get to work on it!

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