Is the Powered Paragliding Bible worth your investment? I certainly think so, and in this post we're going to find out what's in it and why I think you should get a copy.
If you've done a little paramotoring research then you've probably seen a lot of people raving on about The Powered Paragliding Bible. From pilots recommending it on forums to schools offering it as part of a beginner training course, it's everywhere!
When I learned to fly I spent a heck of a lot on training and decided I didn't need the powered paragliding bible; but I've always been curious as to what's actually in it. So in my effort to help beginners with a review in mind, and to satisfy my curiosity; I went on Amazon and grabbed a copy.
It's not a cheap book and most shops are putting their profit on top, so I did a little shopping around and Amazon was by far the cheapest place to get it. Here's a link to the powered paragliding bible on Amazon so you can check the current price > HERE.
About the author: Who is Jeff Goin?
Jeff Goin is a well known name in the Paramotor community. His love for flying started early, at just 13 years old when he soloed his first aircraft, a glider, 2 years before he could legally drive. This lead to him pursuing a career in aviation and landing a job with Southwest Airlines.
His passion for the sport of paramotoring started way back in 1999 when his friend asked him if he'd like to go for a flight on his powered paraglider. At the time Jeff had never even heard of paramotoring and he listened in amazement as his friend explained how the craft worked.
Since that day Jeff has been deeply involved in the sport founding the U.S. Powered Paragliding Association (USPPA) just two years after he learned to fly a paramotor in 2001. Jeff also hosted “The Powered Paragliding Show” for more than seven years, and received the “Above and Beyond Award” Award from the Florida Powered Paragators for writing the powered paragliding bible.
Jeff owns multiple paramotors, a weight-shift hang-glider trike, a Beechcraft Bonanza and an Enstrom F-28 helicopter. He's also a full time pilot making a living as a Boeing 737 captain. With paramotoring always in the back of his mind he calls the 737 “The Big Trike“.
The powered paragliding bible history
The original powered paragliding bible, or edition one was published way back in 2005 after more than a year in the making. Jeff was fairly new to the sport at the time and he did take a little criticism. The book is now in it's twelfth year and fifth edition being updated regularly to keep up with advances in technology. And now with over 18 years of paramotoring experience Jeff is more than qualified to give advice.
The powered paragliding bible edition 5
Edition 5 of the powered paragliding bible was released January 2018 as a 310 page paperback. Unfortunately there's no digital download or eBook format available which means you'll have to pay higher prices for the book. Hopefully they'll realise that they'd sell more copies as an eBook and move with the times, but for now we'll have to deal with a paperback.
The PPG bible review
When the book turned up I was surprised to find a massive 32 Chapters of information. The book takes beginner pilots all the way from finding an instructor; right up to using the paramotor for some pretty obscure purposes, like cattle herding! Although you may have no interest in herding cattle, search and rescue, or even building your own paramotor, these are still a very interesting read. And you never know what the future holds, you may need this information one day.
The Powered Paragliding Bible kicks off with an all important table of contents so you can find exactly what you need, and there's also an index at the back. Before you get to section one Jeff makes it clear that this book is not for self training and that nothing in the book should be tried without getting quality training first.
Throughout the book you'll see lots of caution boxes with helpful tips and tricks relating to that chapter. These tips will help to point out common dangers that you really need to be aware of.
Section one explains everything you can expect from training. You'll discover how to find the perfect school and instructor for your specific needs, every pilot is different so this is important. It even includes a handy ' instructor score sheet' to ensure the instructor will provide everything you'll need for quality training. With the number of inexperienced instructors out there this could prove invaluable to new pilots.
Jeff doesn't waste any time promoting other products and by page ten he's already recommending the Risk and Reward DVD. This is a DVD I did actually buy when I was starting out and I found it very helpful. Even though it's quite old I'd still recommend you give it a watch. Later in the book he also recommends the master powered paragliding series which he directed, you can find them on Amazon HERE.
In section one you're also walked through all of the different parts of a paramotor and wing, from the seat board all the way up to the wing's cells. You'll learn all about the risers, the trim system, harness buckles, and even what carabiners to use, and which to avoid.
Something you'll be doing a lot before your first flight is ground handling! Ground handling is super important and Jeff covers this in great detail in chapter three. You'll have a whole seventeen pages looking at everything from untangling a knotted mess of lines (tricky for beginners), to folding and storing the wing when your done.
Chapter four kicks of with your first flight prep. Jeff goes through all of the important pre-start and pre-flight checks that should be done before every flight. He looks at starting the motor safely and teaches us a handy little trick to prevent prop injuries.
This chapter is also full of tips and tricks to use when faced with an emergency. It covers things like brake line failure and tangles, engine failures, turbulence and collapses, and something I once had to deal with - unfastened leg straps! Jeff has included 3 very handy checklists inside the back cover to help with many of these problems. You can take these with you on your initial flights until you get into the habit of doing them before every flight.
Chapter five deals with your first flight and Jeff once again puts emphasis on using checklists, he mentions that he uses them in the 737; and although much smaller, our checklists are no less important.
Jeff covers forward launches and uses some great time lapse photography to explain the different stages of a forward launch. There's also a forward launch trouble shooting guide that will help no end of pilots struggling with low wind launches. Reverse launches are also covered and once again there is a reverse launch troubleshooting section. You'll go on to learn everything to expect from your first flight from the climb out to the landing.
Trikes and quads
Chapter 6 'adding wheels' is for the trike and quad pilots. Launching with wheels allows more people to fly but it's a totally different technique to foot launching. This chapter covers the many different types of wheeled machines and looks at setting up, launching, flying, and landing. There's some more great time lapse photos and some super handy tips to help you through the launching process.
Section two moves on to the point where you've completed your training and you're taking your first flights without an instructor. Judging the conditions can be a very nerve racking time for new pilots so this section will prove very useful. You'll learn the basics of weather and finding the perfect flying conditions, as well as what conditions you need to avoid at all costs.
Jeff also covers everything to watch out for during windy conditions like rotor turbulence, wind gradient, and wind shear. He gives us some handy tips to tell the wind direction when we're away from the launch site with no windsock. You'll find out how to acquire aviation weather, and learn about different forecast sources and tools. Jeff covers more advanced meteorology later on in the book.
Chapter 8 moves on to basic common sense and law, this includes very basic air rules and ways to keep out of trouble with the law. We get a lesson on commercial use and the FAR 103 rule prohibiting pilots from making money using their paramotors. But Jeff lets us in on a few ways that we can get around these laws and legally make a little extra fuel money from the sport. You'll also find out what will happen to you if you get caught breaking the rules.
In this section Jeff also plugs another DVD that he produced called Airspace & Law for Ultralights. The DVD uses live action and animation to help you understand everything you need to know about the US ultralight regulations. You can find the DVD here on Amazon > Airspace And Law For Ultralights.
Airspace and flying sites
There's a lot to learn about airspace, so much that it takes up the whole of chapter nine, that's a whole ten pages of airspace explanation! You'll learn about the different types of airspace, the airspace alphabet, letter meanings, all you need to know about reading charts, and a heck of a lot more. This is all explained with the help of lots of easy to understand drawings, charts, and pictures.
Tower talk is also covered in detail with lots of examples of what you can use and what you can expect to hear from a control tower. Bearing in mind that aviation radios aren't known for clarity, and the fact that you'll have a loud two stroke engine right next to your mic there's also a phonetic alphabet for you to learn. This will help to avoid confusion when talking to the tower or other aircraft.
Chapter 10 will help you choose a safe paramotor flying site with lots of tips for avoiding site dangers. Things like buildings and trees cause invisible dangers for paramotorists and many pilots have been caught out in the past. These are all addressed and explained with the help of pictures and drawings. Jeff also goes over flying from controlled and uncontrolled airports.
Setting up and maintaining your equipment
This chapter looks at the importance of correct setup and maintaining your equipment. You'll learn how to set up your harness, speedbar, and something I'd never personally heard of - a kick-in bar. Hang adjustment and torque reduction is also covered with some really useful tips.
We then move onto the two stroke engine with a handy troubleshooting chart which covers the many problems that our motors can throw at us. The book doesn't go into how to replace engine parts, this would be difficult with the vast number of engines on the market, but there are some handy explanations of how various paramotor engine components work.
There's a whole four pages devoted to propeller balancing and repair, everybody will damage a propeller at some point so this information will be super useful for all pilots.
You'll learn how to keep your wing airworthy and extend its life by replacing certain parts, and discover how to easily stretch lines that have shrank over time. We find out how to tie brake line knots, adjust brake lines, and repair wing tears. There's also a couple of pages covering the setting up, maintenance, and repacking of reserve parachutes.
Cross country flights and flying with others
We then move on to cross country flying with a heap of tips from planning and navigation, to using a GPS. Jeff even shares a couple of his own cross country experiences with us. I really liked a section on pilotage which is clearly explained with the help of some simple but effective illustrations.
Discover the things to avoid and additional risks involved when flying with other pilots. This chapter also looks at formation flying, and what to do if you need to rescue another pilot after an accident. You'll be surprised at how dangerous it can be just trying to help somebody, Jeff gives us some great tips on staying safe during various emergency situations.
Mastering the sport
Although the powered paragliding bible appeals mainly to beginners this section will definitely come in handy for more experienced pilots. The chapter kicks off with cleaning out your wing by kiting it upside down. Wings get filled with dirt, bugs, sand, and grass; and it can be very hard to get it out - Jeff explains how to flip the wing over while kiting to clean it out. This is all explained with the help of pictures which take you through each part of the process to make things clearer.
You'll also learn how to kite the wing without a harness, this means you won't have to take your harness with you every time you go flying. There's four different techniques you can use and these are all thoroughly explained with the help of pictures.
You'll learn lots of different ways to kite in high winds using a harness and tips on what to do if you get lifted off your feet. The chapter moves on to reverse launching with a trike, light wind techniques, inflation issues, and correcting bad inflation's.
There's a whole chapter dedicated to precision flying for the pilots that wish to take things to the next level. At this point I'm really liking the amount of helpful drawings and animated images in this book. It's all very well done and you can see a massive amount of time has gone into getting this book right.
This chapter covers things like foot dragging, picking up objects, formations, catching suspended targets and active flying in turbulence. Each of these are well explained and our safety is always Jeff's main concern.
Jeff also covers challenging launch / landing sites over a whole eight pages. This chapter will help you understand why it's so hard to launch at higher elevations and Jeff shares a story to help you understand the problem; with some great tips to make things easier.
If you like the thought of getting upside down on your paramotor chapter 18 is just for you. You'll see a previously mentioned caution box here for good reason - Jeff makes it clear that there's a lot of risk involved when practising manoeuvres like SAT's, heli's, loops, and rolls, but they are good fun! Read this chapter carefully and take a SIV course before trying the big tricks.
With that being said this chapter covers fast descent techniques like big ears and spiral dives, B-line stalls, steep turns, and wing overs. Although these manoeuvres can be fun, they can also be used to get out of dangerous or emergency situations such as cloud suck or approaching aircraft.
We'll also get a look at what can happen when manoeuvres go wrong, with lots of different malfunctions and a list of the causes and how to recover from them.
Chapter 19 is all about risk management and is essential reading for all new and existing pilots. You'll have a list of 18 risky situations that you could easily get into, I think most pilots will certainly be guilty of two of them!
There's another good section called handling situational emergencies that makes a great read. Even though you're trying to avoid these situations at all costs, they can easily happen to us all, so this section is definitely worth taking in. Nobody is safe from all of them, there's always a risk of an accidental reserve deployment, a stuck throttle, or cloud suck, and all of these are covered.
If you fancy competing in endurance, slalom, navigation, spot landing, or even simple kiting competitions there is a detailed chapter just for you. Jeff runs through each discipline and tells you exactly what happens during these competitions.
If you're already a pilot transitioning from paragliding chapter 21 explains all of the differences and the surprising effects you'll experience when you add thrust. When you're ready for a spot of free-flying this chapter also has everything you'll need to get started.
Next in the powered paragliding bible we learn all about aerodynamics and the theory of flight. You'll learn all about the different forces your paramotor experiences during flight which is important for all beginner pilots to understand before taking to the air. Find out how your wing creates lift, and how it collapses, knowing this will help you avoid many dangerous situations that could be hard to spot without this knowledge.
Motor and propeller
We got a look at maintaining your engine earlier in the book, but chapter 23 goes into how engines work. You'll learn all about two and four stroke engines with some great cutaway diagrams to help explain what's going on inside the motor. There's a very thorough carburettor section that runs through all of the different parts and how they work. If you're flying a two stroke you'll definitely find this section useful sometime in the future, unfortunately they all break eventually.
Weather and wind
We learned the basics in chapter 7 but there's further lessons on weather and wind in chapter 24. These lessons will give you a far greater understanding of what's actually happening up there. It covers things like the daily and yearly cycle, fronts, where to expect thermals, and how to predict thermals from the ground. This is one of the most important things to get right and beginners will appreciate this wealth of information spanning ten pages.
The final chapters look at the history of the sport - From parachuting to the future of paramotoring.
Finding gear and accessories - selecting wings and paramotors.
Travelling and transportation - carrying your paramotor on motorbikes, carry racks, and planes.
Photography - taking pictures and video from your paramotor and how to get the best shots.
The powered paragliding bible seems to be aimed at beginners, but I know plenty of long time pilots that could make good use of it. It really does have it all and I'd struggle to make any suggestions to improve it. There's a lot more to it than I've listed in this review, I couldn't possibly cover everything!
I haven't read previous editions but I can see that it's been kept well updated by covering modern equipment, and they've even updated most of the pictures. The photography section seemed a little dated and some of the images of huge helmet cameras made me chuckle; but the information is still relevant.
As mentioned earlier there is no eBook format available so paying for a paperback book may put some people off. If you're a beginner I'd say go ahead and make the investment as most of the things covered in the book took me a long time to figure out by myself. The safety advice is also priceless, we see lots of accidents that could be avoided, and the powered paragliding bible will go a long way at reducing future incidents, it's definitely worth the money!
Get it, or check the current price on Amazon > HERE.
Or find the book and all of Jeff's recommended DVD's in the recommended gear section > HERE.
You can also check out my own paramotor manual HERE.