Statement from USParagliding.com founder, Ashton Brunner:

Trust your Training, Trust your Equipment!

 

Is powered paragliding for me? Is it Safe?

Many questions such as these can be found on our free training syllabus and from any good instructor, or our FAQ page. This statement is for those who are researching and thinking about the great sport of Powered Paragliding. If you decide not to come to our school then try to find an instructor that has invested in their business. 

  • Do you want a part time Surgeon or Dentist?
  • Does the surgeon have proper tools?
  • I can pull your tooth but a full time dentist will most likely do a better job.
  • Does your instructor have a syllabus, Hanger, access to an airfield or large training area?
  • Do they have lodging for you on site?
  • Do they have access to flying spots adequate for training or are they going to go looking when you arrive and wing it?
  • Basically if you are going to give someone your money to train you, they need to at least have invested in themselves. Check their website, and see how long they have actually been in the sport.
  • A good instructor will have flown for at least a few years gaining knowledge before strapping on the instructor badge.
  • Do they have a Training flight simulator not a tree?
  • Can they take you up tandem flight first so you know if you want to do this or not? Those are some of the simple things to ask. Always research their name, ask questions, check video testimonials, were did they get their training, etc. How vested are they in the sport? If you go to a regulated FAA approved pilot school they will have proper equipment and craft to train you. So always look at who might train you under the same scrutiny. This is a safe sport but you will trust your life with someone so make sure you have done your research first.

There is no law regulating paragliding or FAR 103 ultra light instructions since there is no license required.

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That is a great thing as big government normally breaks what it gets involved with, so it’s buyer beware.

Don’t be in a hurry do your research take your time. Patient students make the best pilots. Research the person selling the gear.

Be careful if someone tells you that only one specific brand is the best, vs. trying to find the right gear to meet your needs, such as:

  • type of flying,
  • flying environment,
  • physical capabilities,
  • your weight, or available finances.

There is a lot of great gear out there. There are some salesmen that actually tell people they will die if they don’t fly the gear they sell. One guy made up his own club and made himself world champion of it. All though this case is rather extreme that particular person is still in the business.

In my personal opinion, try and stick with Italian made engines when dealing with the most common back pack PPG two strokes. Always look at gear that you can get parts for. It’s a good thing if the engine is used on multiple brands. If something happens to one company you can still get parts from another keeping you in the air for years to come. Avoid the sales pitch of this is a new “chinkadero 360 ” engine that just came out, with a crank made in Japan but the rest comes from China.

Flying High in Texas

Don’t go broke saving money. Cheap gliders and flying gear are not the place to save. It’s like buying a fast dirt bike with no helmet. How much is your head worth? Remember this is flying and it’s never been as low cost and safe as it is today. There are a few companies that copy gliders in China and sell them at full value of a certified glider. Look for the plaque on the glider. Visit para2000.org and look the glider up. Ask around, is their only one person selling the glider or gear? If it’s a big popular glider there will be testimonials and many companies selling them. See if it’s from a legit company or is it a Chinese knock off? Nothing against China but you are trusting your life with flying gear.

At 6,000 feet I would like to know I am in a glider that comes from a company with a great reputation, testing procedures, and very good quality control but that’s just me.

Often the savings on copy gear are only a few hundred dollars at best. USParagliding has been in business for over 10 years and we have Italian engines and certified gliders. Our Name brand packages start at Just over 7K and that’s for a 185cc engine that is powerful enough for tandem flight with a 4 gallon tank.
Powered Paragliding in Austin, Texas

We have noticed that some Chinese package deals are selling at a much higher price to confuse potential pilots. So again buyer beware, take your time ask lots of questions. Most good instructors will not dog others as they have the self confidence not to. Many of your instructors will know each other and in many cases be friends. It’s a small sport barely in its infancy in the US. So have a great time fly safe learn all you can and be an asset to the growth of the sport not someone else getting arrested for harassing people. Be smart Fly safe and remember the old Pilot adage:

“There are Bold Pilots and Old Pilots, but no Bold Old Pilots”

Be safe, fly in the right weather, fly good equipment, and we will see you in the sport for years to come.

Welcome to the third dimension “if there is air it should be flown in”

Ashton F Brunner, Founder USParagliding.com & FlyGreenEagle.com

We want to make sure whoever you are, or whatever you’re flying, you are safe, and flying right! Call us today with any questions, or to book your first lesson to start flying today!


 Tips on finding the right instructor 

If you are looking to get into the sport, first off welcome! You are in for a real treat!

Over the past ten years as a Powered Paragliding Instructor, I have felt the sharp edge of the double sided sword of ‘no license required’ in paragliding.   On one side it is amazing to be able to soar the skies without having regulation on what you can and can’t do regarding your freedom of flying.  On the other hand there are numerous instructors with very little experience or qualifications whom are not regulated, which is not good either.

I have trained students that have put paraglider training ads on their truck before their first flight. I recently trained a gentleman and his student who was made an instructor after only five flights by an equipment supplier in California.   He came to me as he realized he had no real experience and his student saw that.   So this is the double edge part of no license required.

Thus, this leaves the burden on the student to find training that is correct, and more importantly, safe.

Like any sport considered extreme you may run into some pretty big egos.   The funny part is our sport is only as extreme as you make it.

As a jump master in the American Army or as a paragliding instructor, we have plenty of egos the size of Manhattan.   In choosing an instructor sometimes you have to try and look past that and find out what they know, and how they treat you as a fellow human.

Are they answering your questions?

How long have they been flying before deciding to instruct?

Where have they flown? Have they ever free flown or just paramotor? This will tell you their glider experience.

Are they giving you details about gliders and equipment? Or just telling you that different brands besides the ones they sell are “unsafe and unfit for flight” ?

Fact is there are lots of great brands and instructors.

Watch out for the “I am a USPPA instructor” as many get their certifications just by selling gear that a USPPA professional sells.  How long have they been a USPPA instructor?   Some are great and have been around a while. The USPPA have great intentions, however many individuals often claim USPPA status, and are not really qualified to teach.

Most professional instructors should have videos or promotion material on Youtube. How old are they when were they posted? Did they just start posting last year?

What experience with other gliders do they have?

How old is their website? Does their website look legitimate? Or do they even have a website? Be cautioned by trainers without a professional online presence, as they are likely just looking to train you to make a ‘quick buck’.

Find out if their equipment supplier is also a training administrator?

Do they have gear you can use to learn on? If not, they are likely a pilot, not an instructor looking to teach you some basics for money.

CAUTION:

There is a very big difference between a fellow pilot, and an instructor. Instructors are trained to teach you the key safety points and proper technique in flying. If you wouldn’t trust your brother in law driving your car, you probably shouldn’t trust him teaching you how to fly.

Does the instructor have any references? May be a good idea to phone references.

Example:  Our school references would include taking the president of the USPPA on the first USPPA tandem class offered! USPPA president Jeff Goin was our passenger 6 years ago.

 

Look to see if the instructor knows any other instructors in the sport. Chances are, if are good, they have contacts in different regions of the country.

Example: Eric Dufour,   one of the best instructors I know in Florida, or Andy Mc Avin of TX fly sports both are good friends of USParagliding.

What kind of training facility do they have?

Do they supply housing as well?

Have they invested in themselves or are they requiring you to bring all the gear? These are very important things to know. Are they going to train you inland or just put you on the beach in California in laminar air then send you back to your home state with one flight and no real knowledge.   Fact is, it’s really up to you to be safe, take the time have some patience look carefully at gear and training verses hype.

In the end nothing trumps experience.

A person should fly several years which may only be a hundred hours before even thinking of pinning on the instructor badge. All too often it’s “I got five flights now I am going to open up my own business.” How would you feel about a home contractor expert with only five jobs experience, or being a doctors first surgery ever?   How about a mechanic with no tools to fix your car but he has a written test exam saying he or she is certified.   I look for personal investment in any thing I do. I pick machine shops based on time experience, references, and how nice their facilities are.   You should do the same when it comes to aviation.

I hope this information is helpful in getting you safely into a great sport of powered paragliding.

Feel free to call and ask questions any time.

 

Fly safe!

 

Ashton Brunner, founder of USParagliding.com & FlyGreenEagle.com

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