How High Can Paramotors Fly?
Paramotors are 2.0. versions of paragliders. They operate similarly to paragliders, and you steer them using the toggles on your left and right side. However, paramotors allow you the freedom to roam the sky by allowing you to cover more ground and discover the world from a different view.
You might have started using a paramotor because of the community, a sense of belonging to a select group of like-minded people or enjoying the calm and adventure each flight provides. We know that participating in this extreme sport forces you to live in the moment and challenge yourself in the sky. Every paramotor pilot will experience the urge to see how high their paramotor can fly.
Soaring through the sky on a paramotor is exhilarating for thrill-seekers. They help push you to the limits at breathtaking heights. But, how high can you fly? What are the altitude limitations for paramotors? Let’s find out!
How High Can Paramotors Fly?
One of the more frequently asked questions is, “How high can I fly with a paramotor?”. The answer is simple. You can typically pilot your paramotor to a range of 1,000 feet. However, the highest other paramotor pilots usually fly is between 10,000 and 18,000 feet as they are looking to push the limits and issue themselves a challenge.
Ramon Morillas Salmeron set the world record for flying a paramotor in 2009, and he reached the record-breaking altitude of 25,590 feet! However, when you consider which height to cruise at, you need to remember that safety comes first at all times and that the higher you go, the riskier it can get.
If you want to fly at higher altitudes, you will need to prepare yourself with the proper knowledge and tools! Since paramotors fall under class E of the FAA, you can legally fly up to a height of 18,000 feet in the U.S. If you go higher than 18,000 feet, you would then be crossing over into territory belonging to aircraft in class A airspace.
If you are going to fly at higher altitudes, then you will need to check the following:
- Airspace: Before your flight, you need to plan how high you want to take your paramotor. Certain areas have height restrictions, so make sure that you are abiding by the rules of that area and ask the relevant authorities for permission if you are planning to exceed these height restrictions.
- Fuel Tank: The length of your flight and the speed you can fly will depend on the amount of fuel you have. The higher the altitude, the more fuel is used to maintain that altitude.
- Oxygen Levels: When you fly at higher altitudes, it decreases your oxygen. This can occur at a rapid or slow rate, depending on your oxygen levels. Therefore, it is best to be prepared and have additional oxygen sources to ensure that you don’t get hypoxia.
When it comes to speed, your paramotor will take you soaring through the air at the following rates:
- For new to slightly average experienced riders, you will find that your paramotor can go up to speeds of 25 and 30 mph, respectively, taking you on a leisurely cruise as you take in the views from above.
- More seasoned paramotor pilots can travel up to speeds of 75 mph. Be sure to take the necessary safety precautions before reaching these speeds.
Bear in mind that the speed you can travel gets impacted by weather conditions, such as wind and rain.
Rules of the Road and Sky
Like all other vehicles in both the land and sky, paramotor pilots have specific rules and regulations that they must adhere to.
The first thing you should know is that you do not need a license to operate a paramotor. However, you should still take steps to ensure that you are adequately trained to handle this ultralight vehicle.
It is imperative to get training before you even think of operating a paramotor so that you are not endangering your safety and the safety of others. Knowing how to handle a paramotor and what actions to take in the case of an accident are crucial in preventing severe injuries and helping you land gracefully.
There are currently no official age limits or restrictions for being a paramotor pilot. Although the FAA does require you to meet the minimum requirements of the following to fly a paramotor:
- You must have mental capacity and awareness to operate a paramotor
- You must meet the necessary weight requirements
Considering this, the younger paramotor pilots usually begin their paramotor journey at 15 or 16. This is because they can understand the full consequences and risks they are taking by operating a paramotor.
The FAA doesn’t impose many laws on paramotor pilots, but one essential rule is that you cannot use a paramotor at night. This is because it is harder for larger aircraft to see paragliders and paramotors. So even with headlights and strobe lights, pilots of airplanes can miss the paramotor resulting in a collision.
At night it will also be more challenging for paramotor pilots to discern where they will be flying to and whether or not they have a clear landing space. Flying at night could get you not only a hefty fine, but you could even get jail time for engaging in such dangerous and life-threatening acts.
It is also important to note that weather conditions will play a significant role in whether or not it would be safe for you to fly your paramotor. For example, if it is raining or very windy, it is not advisable to use your paramotor to protect your safety and the safety of bystanders.
Like all other aircraft, there are weight limitations. The average weight limitations in paramotors are 352 lbs. This is the standard operating weight at which most paramotors operate.
Weight limitations are placed on paramotors to ensure that the pilot is safe and that the person’s weight is not too heavy or too light. However, keep in mind that you still have to engage in the process of take-off, and if you are doing a take on foot, the weight of the paramotor itself will slow the rate at which you can start.
The paramotor can also experience problems mid-flight if it is not adequately suited to the person’s weight. This can ultimately result in injury for the user, those sharing air space, and people below.
Use the Right of Way Rule
When flying on the ridge
If you are engaged in a flight and encounter another paramotor, the rules are similar to driving a vehicle. The aircraft, which has a ridge on the right, has the right of way, and you should wait before continuing your flight.
Converging into clear air
If you encounter another paramotor pilot in open-air spaces with no ridges, the right has the all-clear or “right of way” to go first while the corresponding aircraft waits for their turn to go. On the off chance that both pilots are flying directly towards one another simultaneously, both pilots need to immediately converge to their rights to avoid colliding with one another.
Flying at different altitudes
If you are converging with a glider or another paramotorist flying at a different altitude than you, the lower pilot has the right of way. The reasoning behind this is that the lower pilot may need extra time or may not have even seen you heading in their direction, so they would require more time to choose which direction they want to go.
Thermals are generally upwind air pockets that paragliders, paramotorists, and hot air balloon enthusiasts use to gain more height leverage. If you get caught or engage in a thermal with other para-pilots, you, unfortunately, do not have a choice and must converge in the same direction as everybody else. However, if you are the only person using the thermal, that automatically makes you the person in the lead, and should other people join the thermal, they will follow the direction you go in.
Places You Can Use Your Paramotor
There are two imminent points of concern when using a paramotor, from what space will you launch your paramotor, and where will you land? You can generally use wide and open spaces to go on your paramotor adventures. Avoid close proximity to airports (5 miles at least), class A, B, C, D airspace, and populated areas.
Most paramotor pilots like to fly at around 1,000 feet, and more experience pilots soar to heights of 10,000 and 18,000 feet. While you might feel the urge to push your height limitations, it is essential to consider the FAA rules, your experience level and ensure you have the right equipment. Also, check the weight limit and follow all right of way rules before launching.
Your safety should be your number one priority, and be cautious when flying your paramotor to greater heights!