Status of Wheeled Paramotor Tandems

Paramotor USPPA

In the U.S., tandem (two place) paramotor instruction is legal using an exemption such as 9575 from USPPA.org. It is NOT legal for recreational use; that’s what Sport Pilot is for. This, of course, a HUGE safety improvement for training since there is no excuse not to ensure students can handle the craft’s oddities before going up alone.

Sufficiently skilled and experienced USPPA.org instructors can get certified by attending a clinic. There is no cost from the organization and, as of 2019, they were offering a $100 training reimbursement to cover some cost of the clinic, usually about $500, or more if equipment is provided.

Learning to paramotor has proven to be among the top 3 deadly aspects of a flying a paramotor. Poor training makes it more likely, and in my observation it’s poor training not to make sure a student has mastered all the pendular weirdness of paramotor before sending them up solo. We who love this sport should hold tandem pilots to the highest standard. After sport pilot came along, wheeled tandems became illegal until some organizations got a tandem exemption. Until then, few instructors went through the arduous process of becoming sport pilots–mostly because the equipment was unavailable. You had to either build it yourself or find one that someone had already built and N-Numbered (registering as a certified aircraft). Good luck.

So now, as of 2019, we have a chance. Here’s hoping we don’t collectively screw it up.

How We’ll Screw it Up

In the 1980’s a news reporter was killed on a tandem flight while he was doing a story on ultralights. An uproar ensued and politicians got involved. We fly at the pleasure of the people. Piss enough of them off and we won’t fly anymore.

If someone is out there giving joy tandem paramotor joy rides, and a commercial airplane pilot is trying to do the same thing, he may well complain. His costs are higher, his cost to become a commercial pilot were immensely higher, and he knows who to talk to. Pressure will be applied to “do something.”

If a tandem pilot is being irresponsible, or worse, crashes, political pressure will be exerted to “do something.”

None of the organizations have enough manpower to be out policing pilots who aren’t certified by them so it falls on the FAA to do so.

A common, and horrible action by the FAA is try solving problems with an axe instead of an exacto knife. “We’ll just make the whole thing illegal.” Of course that’s a travesty and harms the entire endeavor, but it doesn’t matter. We all suffer.

Our Part

Nobody wants to be the bad guy. I get it. I don’t want to be. I want to get along with people and share in their love of flight. But if we don’t police ourselves, if we don’t at least TRY to pressure fellow pilots into respecting the rules, we¬† collectively participate in its downfall.

We enjoy more freedom of flight in this country than anywhere else on the planet as best I can tell. Here’s hoping we can keep it.

Leave a Reply