FREE Paramotor Training or Lessons Are NOT Always FREE…

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Free Paramotor Training or Free Powered Paragliding Lessons Might Not be “FREE.”

Most things that appear “to good to be true,” are usually just that! There’s a reason why the saying “you get what you pay for” exists. If a used car salesman offered you “free drivers training with the purchase of a car,” would you expect a NASCAR expert to show up and teach you? Probably not. If you were concerned about your personal safety and wanted to be the best driver possible, do you feel like a free volunteer would be qualified OR MOTIVATED to teach you something so important? What if the Instructor then decided to charge you for gas, made you pay for ALL their meals, made you pay for their traveling expenses to get to you, charged for cleaning the car, and made YOU work around THEIR schedule? After it’s all said and done, you would just end up paying the same for sub-par training and not even realize it. Unfortunately, this type of thing is happening in the Powered Paragliding industry. More importantly to consider, this isn’t just learning how to drive a car… This is aviation we are talking about here!

Over the last year, we have had a few people call us and ask “What’s up with these Instructors out there offering free Paramotor training or free Powered Paragliding lessons?” Normally, the classic expression “you get what you pay for” would come to mind, but what if you don’t even get that? Unfortunately, many people out there have had negative experiences with “free training,” some of them never returning to the sport. In order to prevent others from having the same frustrations, we would like to offer some things to consider before jumping at the word “free.”

Consider is the fact that some places are simply NOT suited for Paramotor Lessons. Finding an adequate place to takeoff or land is easy. Finding a location suitable for training is a completely different challenge. Choosing the proper training site isn’t just to maximize a student’s learning experience… More importantly, it needs to be safe! It’s irresponsible and even dangerous for any Instructor to claim they will “travel to your location and train you,” especially if they have no idea what the conditions are like where you live. You might assume that the “field next to your house” will work for training, however, an expert needs to make such a call. Your safety depends on it! Something as simple as a pothole could cause a pilot to fall, damage their gear, or become injured.

If at first you don’t succeed, do you really want to “try, try again?” Setting a week aside to take lessons is quite an investment in time. What happens if there is no wind on a given day, or if you have to spend a day driving around and looking for a suitable training location? What if it takes you “longer than average” to learn? Many students feel like these “free Instructors” are rushing them through their training programs. Learning something as intricate as personal aviation should not be rushed. If you are not 100% comfortable and confident to fly by yourself after your training, something is seriously wrong. If an Instructor gets you a single flight, pats you on the back, and says “congratulations – you’re a pilot,” something is seriously wrong.

Lastly, Powered Paragliding is a “non-licensed sport,” meaning there is no governing body or quality control… Until now! A group of volunteer industry experts got together and created the United States Powered Paragliding Association (USPPA). This organization has created an exceptional quality control system through progressive pilot ratings systems, their thorough training syllabus for USPPA Certified Instructors to follow, and their open line of forum-based communication. Pilot and Instructor ratings from the USPPA are the most recognized and respected ratings one can get. USPPA Certified Instructors are internationally recognized as the top authorities in the industry, and it is highly recommended that you seek out such an Instructor. The USPPA has also implemented many incentive programs to reward pilots for continuing their education. The organization has also produced many books, DVD’s, and other training tools to help ensure the safety of pilots. Watch out for Instructors who talk negatively about organizations designed to promote safety in the sport. These are commonly Instructors who have “burned their bridges” or have been kicked out of these organizations due to their behavior. The USPPA documents incidents and issues pilots have experienced. That being said, if you are concerned about the reputation of a specific Dealer or Instructor, CLICK HERE to contact the USPPA. 


Free Paramotor Training?

 

Jeff Goin (President of the United States Powered Paragliding Association) recently posted the following article, discussing this very issue:

Free Paramotor Lessons?

Free Paramotor Lessons?

“Think about it for a moment. How much value will an instructor put on something they’re giving away? You’ll more likely be treated like they’re doing you a favor. How compelled will they be to be thorough? To guide you through the difficult beginnings of becoming a well-rounded PPG Pilot? Will they be motivated to put their heart and soul into it? Committed to going through the entire USPPA syllabus?

This isn’t about certification, it’s about quality training. I’ve heard MANY stories from people who bit the “Free Training” apple only to find a worm. Eventually they may go to a real instructor after either breaking up their gear or their body–expensive detours that cost way more than real, quality instruction by someone who goes through the entire syllabus.

And if an instructor “pooh pooh’s” going the syllabus, don’t expect to cover what’s necessary. Be realistic, you’re operating an aircraft, in the national airspace system—if they can’t take the time to cover what’s in that syllabus, you’re doing yourself a disservice by trusting them with your life. It’s like a checklist. Do you know why airlines rely on challenge-response checklists? Because they work! It’s the most reliable way to insure a human covers what’s necessary.

The most glaring example is a traveling instructor who promises this free training and then does a cursory course with sometimes no more than 3 flights even though there is opportunity for more. It’s one thing when weather gets in the way, that can happen to anyone, but to leave a student with 3 flights is just a travesty.

How “Free” Is It?
You may be asked to pay for the “instructor’s” travel and hotel. That’s certainly not free. Then, more than anything, if the instructor is not committing to get you through the skills and knowledge of a PPG2 rating, with at least 25 flights, you will be far more likely to damage equipment or flesh in the aftermath of that training. The rating isn’t what counts, either, it’s thoroughness.

Ethics:
Also, do the sport a favor and look at their ethics. Ask yourself if this is what you want to support. Flying sites are one of our sport’s treasures and anyone willing to risk someone else’s site by flying intentionally irresponsibly should be shunned. Can you imagine your own horror at having an out-of-town pilot come to your local field, buzzing nearby houses, and getting your site shut down? We must have no tolerance for this. An accidental flying too close is one thing, intentional disrespect is despicable.

Finally:
While it’s certainly possible to succeed in spite of woefully inadequate training, it’s a crap shoot. Training is absolutely the last place anyone should skimp. It’s FAR less about gear than learning how to use it. Those who do survive such initial marginal instructors usually do so only after seeking out real instruction or by finding a group to fly with.

A good training PROGRAM is the single most important thing you will buy as a new paramotor pilot–far more important than gear, make sure to find a certified instructor who goes through the entire USUA/USPPA or USHPA syllabus. Being certified is not the end-all, either, the instructor must be willing to take you through a complete course, preferably ending in a rating. It is more work for you and the instructor but the benefit is becoming a more knowledgeable pilot who has worked up to the skills for a PPG 2 rating. These are clearly spelled out. Most students will also need to practice on their own to actually gain these skills, probably taking 40 to 50 flights to reach the PPG 2 skill level, especially on spot landings. But you will be so much more ready to face life aloft!

Treat yourself to quality, thorough, training. Survive, thrive and enjoy this incredible sport. As of 2012 the USPPA will even reimburse you $100 for earning the PPG 2 rating to help offset a part of the extra cost thoroughness entails.

usppa

 

Jeff Goin - USPPA President
http://footflyer.com/index.html


In addition to one of the most reputable people in the industry voicing their concern, we have had many customers come through our National Training Centers talking about their negative experiences with “free training.” This has happened often enough to where people are speaking out, trying to prevent others from experiencing the same frustrations.

Getting into this sport is a big decision for most people, and not just a financial investment… It’s also an investment in time. If industry experts, Instructors, manufacturers, and especially customers are all telling people to avoid “free Paramotor training or lessons,” there might be some merit to what these people are saying.


Questions to Ask Your Prospective Instructor:

1. Do you use a structured training program that includes a syllabus?

2. Is your school listed with USPPA, USUA or USHPA?

3. What’s your take on other PPG Instructors? Gauge the response to this, looking for destructive ego.

4. What about other brands? If they only bash other gear, they’re *NOT* being honest.

5. How many training hours does the student get before the program ends or you leave town?

6. What does the student do while waiting for you to return to provide more training?

7. Do you provide legal training materials (DVD’s or books) to students?

8. Do you stock parts for the engines you sell or provide a clear path to get those parts/service?

9. Do you know how to repair the equipment?

10. Do you use available safety gear like a helmet, boots, radio, hook knife, and reserve parachute?

11. Do you follow the regulations as listed by Federal Aviation Regulations part 103?

12. Do you hold a current tandem exemption?

13. Do you offer tandem rides?

14. What kind of training areas do you use?

15. Do you teach the FAA Sectional map as it applies to my area? Do you use current updates?

16. Do you look for TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions) before you fly?

17. Do you encourage the logging of incidents on the www.USPPA.org database?

 

For QUALITY Paramotor Instruction, CLICK HERE

LOCATE a Certified Instructor Near You – CLICK HERE


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