Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Would you like to try something new? Then you might want to consider paragliding and paramotoring. Both are exciting activities, but for a newbie, they are confusing. Even some who have been doing it may also have wrong assumptions, using the two terms interchangeably.
If you want to know the similarities and differences, keep on reading. As we talk about paragliding vs paramotoring in this article, we will help you decide which one is a better option! By digging deeper, you will also learn which one is safer and how you can prepare for both activities to ensure your highest level of safety.
While they are both thrilling activities, there is one reason why people are having second thoughts – safety. This isn’t dumbfounded since there have been tons of accidents reported in both paragliding and paramotoring. From lack of knowledge to extreme weather conditions, there are many factors that can increase the safety risks.
To begin with, take note that they are both extreme sports, and hence, it is understandable that there are risks involved. These are not for the faint of heart. You need to be courageous enough to face your fear of heights! The calmer you are, the safer the overall experience will be.
Ask anyone who has been doing both activities for a long time, and they will agree on one thing – paragliding is more dangerous compared to paramotoring. In paramotoring, you will be in a calmer environment, and hence, you will be safer. The wind conditions are more tolerable. Plus, climbing to heights is also a safer experience. Also, you will have more time to react to the elements that can confront you, making it easier to control your safety.
As we differentiate paragliding vs paramotoring, another important thing to discuss is the launching point. This is the place where you will be starting. If you are looking for versatility in terms of launching point, then we recommend that you choose paramotoring. This is because you can launch your flight in almost any spacious and open area. The most important is to make sure that there are no obstructions in your flight, including power lines, posts, and trees.
When you are paragliding, on the other hand, you cannot launch on a flat surface. Instead, you need to be on a hilltop. Finding a hilly location can be tricky in some places. There are also instances when you have to climb the hill when it cannot be reached by a vehicle, which translates into additional physical effort. Once you launch from the top, you will gradually make your way to the ground, which is also the reason why it is called a top to bottom flight.
In the case of paragliding, your initial flight needs to happen in a place with minimal wind. You need a calm environment as you launch. However, when you are already in the air, this tranquility is no longer needed. You will need wind and thermal activity to move upward and stay afloat. It is impossible to go paragliding in an area that lacks wind speed. For an optimal launch, you need to start from an area with a wind speed of 2 to 16 mph. This is also the reason why the launch is done only on a hilltop and never on the ground.
Paramotoring, on the other hand, does not rely on wind. This makes paramotoring versatile since you can do it even in an environment without wind. If there is wind, you can stay on the air even with a dead engine. On the other hand, even when there is no wind, you can still fly, and the best thing is that this will never be a safety issue. The engine thrusts the paramotor, so it is never dependent on the wind.
When you get too low in paramotoring, it is easier to get up. The motor will help you achieve the desired elevation. Meanwhile, if you are paragliding, you will have to be more reliant in the wind as you begin to descend. In some instances, you will have no choice but to be forced into early landing if the wind conditions will no longer allow you to go up.
Because you need a strong wind when paragliding, this can pose a risk. Again, this supports the earlier assertion that paragliding is a riskier sport. When there is turbulence at a low altitude, your flight becomes more dangerous. It becomes even worse when there are obstructions that can pose significant threats. When the wings deflate, it could end up being lethal.
Aside from the wind, you also need to consider thermals as you learn the differences of paragliding vs paramotoring. These are pockets of air that are produced by the sun as it heats. It rises and can affect your performance. Thermals are more important when you are paragliding. You need to use it to you advantage as it will help to lift you in the sky.
As the pilot, you need to have a strategic thinking so that you can go to the direction of the thermals. The biggest advantage of paramotoring is that it does not rely on thermals that much. You have a motor that will make it easier to steer to the desired direction. Even if you do not find a single thermal, it is still possible that you stay afloat and cruise through the open sky. This means that you can generate your own momentum because there is a motor.
At first look, you might think that the wings for paragliding and paramotoring are the same. Because of having almost identical wings, beginners are often confused about the two extreme sports. They both look like a parachute and are both connected to a harness where the pilot is strapped. You will be running it like a kite and gliding effortlessly up in the air! There is no cockpit and you are hanging free. Anyone who has tried it will agree – it is liberating even if it is intimidating, especially if you are a novice.
The biggest difference with their wings is that it the case of paramotors, the wings have a feature called trimmers. You can find it at the tip of the wing, and the primary function is to increase the speed of the parachute. In paragliding, there are no trimmers. This is because you are expected to fly it somewhere with active current or wind. Trimmers are not needed for increasing speed.
Take note that you cannot use the wings interchangeably. They are built for the requirements of each sport. Swapping the wings can pose a significant threat and will make you more inefficient.
Ease of Learning
By now, you are most probably excited but still undecided about which one you should try. The next important consideration is ease of learning. As a new pilot, you will be overwhelmed. Flying isn’t one thing that you will learn overnight. You need to know a lot of things, including the right techniques. The more you know, the easier and safer each flight will be.
Between the two, paramotoring is easier to learn. You will control about 80% of the flight. This means that more things will be under your hand. This is unlike in paragliding wherein you can control only 50% of your flight. The other half will depend heavily on other factors, with the most significant being the wind conditions.
In paragliding, the easiest part is in launching. You will be starting from a hilly area, which makes it natural for you to follow the movement of the wind. However, making mental calculations is exhausting, especially if you are new to it. You need to consider the wind and other variables. In paramotoring, you also need mental calculation, but it isn’t as difficult as what you will experience in paragliding.
A lot are also concerned about the cost of these two outdoor activities. They are certainly not cheap. You need top-notch equipment and comprehensive training, so you must be ready to shell out money if you want to try paragliding and paramotoring. While paramotoring is safer and easier, it is also more expensive. The cost can be enough to drive most people away!
For the wing itself, you will need approximately $3,500. If you want the best quality, then you should be ready to spend more than that. A safety harness is also needed, which can go as much as $600. The overall paragliding cost can go more than $5,000. On the other hand, if you are paramotoring, you can easily spend more than $10,000 on equipment!
For paramotoring, you will also need to buy fuel, which can stack up over time. The more frequent you fly, the higher this expense can be.
As you try to compute the costs, you also have to think about the maintenance-related expenses. Because your equipment includes a motor in paramotoring, the maintenance is higher. You need to check not just the wings but also the condition of the motor. Ideally, you should do this every flight. You should also maintain a regular scheduled inspection to ensure safety and efficiency in every flight.
Aside from the cost, the effort involved in the upkeep of the motor also requires more on your end. If you are lazy, then you might have a problem maintaining the motor in its peak condition. You need to do basic maintenance work for at least every ten hours of flight! Make sure that you find the time to do this, or your safety and performance are compromised!
For paragliding, basic maintenance work involves checking the wings, making sure that there are no tears, holes, or cracks. Cleaning the wing is also important. Do not use harsh chemicals and abrasives, among other materials that can be damaging. Testing the structural integrity of the connections is also crucial.
Meanwhile, in the case of paramotoring, basic maintenance includes everything mentioned above about the wings. The main difference is that you also have to look at the condition of the motor. Pay attention to any sign of a problem, such as a loud noise or smoke. Check the spark plug and make sure that there are no gas leaks. Also, make sure that you are using the right type of fuel depending on what the motor requires.
Which One Should You Try?
It’s time to answer the most important question – which one should I try? Honestly, the answer will depend on you! It depends on what you want and what is available on your location.
For most people, however, safety is their most important consideration. For this reason, we recommend paramotoring over paragliding. One of the reasons for this is because you can launch even on flat surfaces and in a place with no wind or thermal activity. Without any wind, there is a lesser likelihood of winds collapse. The environment is calmer, and it is easier for you to maneuver.
Because there is no or low wind, the environment is more predictable. This gives you better control of your entire flight, which also makes it a better option for beginners. It is a breeze to anticipate your movements. When it is windy, on the other hand, there can be surprises, and it is possible for you to be overwhelmed.
Now that you reached the end of this comparison of paragliding vs paramotoring, we hope that you learned a thing or two. Both are exciting extreme sports, which are intimidating for any beginner. If you are looking for something safer, then you should try paramotoring. Another main difference is that in paragliding, you will need to launch from the top of the hill and wind is necessary. In contrast, paramotoring allows you to launch anywhere, even on a flat surface without wind. More so, paramotoring has trimmers in its wing, which you will not find in paragliding.