What is a powered paraglider?

A powered paraglider is type of ultralight aircraft.  It is a combination of two main components, a paraglider or "wing" that provides lift and a propulsion unit called a paramotor the pilot wears on his or her back that provides enough thrust for the aircraft to take off and fly.

So basically...

A powered paraglider is a combination of a paraglider wing and a motorized paramotor unit.

The powered paraglider "wing"

The most important part of a powered paraglider is the paraglider itself, usually referred to as the "wing" or "glider." The wing is what makes flight possible, not the paramotor. The wing determines most of the flight characteristics like speed, handling and so on. You don't need a paramotor to fly with a paraglider, just something tall to jump off of, like a mountain.

Paramotor Components

The propulsion unit of a powered paraglider is called a paramotor.

There are many manufacturers and different styles of paramotors all of which consist of a circular cage, an engine, fuel tank and a seating harness that retracts on take off and landings. Everything is connected to the frame of the paramotor.

In the paramotor image to the right you can see the seating harness and the round cage with the netting. This prevents body parts and other objects from coming into contact with the propeller.

The Paramotor Engine

Most powered paragliders are propelled with small 2-stroke engines and while electric motors are used, presently they are fairly rare.

2-stroke internal combustion engines are favorable due to their impressive power-to-weight ratio for example the engine shown weighs less than 30 pounds and produces nearly 30hp! 4-stroke paramotor engines are available however the heavier weight prevents their popularity.

While there are many paramotor frame and cage manufacturers there are just a handful of companies that make engines.

Here is a picture of me flying. Upon takeoff you have to support the paramotor on your back which on average weights about 55 pounds. After liftoff however, the wing carries everything so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.

Here you can see the paramotor unit with the engine and propeller. The fuel tank on this style of paramotor is inside the frame but on other styles the tank is usually located on the frame under the engine.

I had just arrived at the airport so the paraglider wing was still inside the stuff sack which can be seen next to the paramotor. The combination of these two components are what make up a powered paraglider. As you can see, this flying machine is very compact and easy to transport.

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