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Why Use a Certified Instructor?

The benefits of using USPPA/USUA certified instructors and certified paragliders


The government does not regulate paramotor instruction. No license is required and anyone can hang out a shingle calling themselves an instructor. The problem is, how does a new pilot know whether the individual or school follows safe practices, has a thorough training program or even has the knowledge and skills to teach students? That is why we have a certification program.

Our sport’s minimal regulation was setup because the government essentially (and fortunately) lets us do our own thing, including hurt ourselves individually, as long as we don’t take anyone up with us. No passenger, minimal regulation. But then you don’t want to get hurt.

This is aviation. We operate in the US Airspace system and missteps could ruin it for everybody, let alone the individual. Inadequate or improper training could result in student injury or death. We fly very unique aircraft who’s handling and characteristics are not always intuitive. USPPA/USUA (and USHPA) instructors have demonstrated knowledge and skill in the flying of these craft along with how to handle numerous emergencies that can come up. While there may be wonderful and effective non-certified instructors out there, it becomes up to you to find out on your own.

Just being certified does not make an instructor “good” or even safe. Nor does being an expert pilot. They must be good teachers, be disciplined and able to effectively communicate, among other things. Recommendation from a trusted pilot is a great reinforcement that your choice is a good one.

Even If They’re Certified

Using the USPPA syllabus is not required. This document covers all the essential knowledge and skills that we feel should be included during training for the PPG1 (first solo), PPG2 (pilot) and PPG3 (advanced pilot) stages. The PPG2 rating is what we consider the minimum for a pilot to be ready to set out on their own. 

You should ask your instructor to go through the entire syllabus for the rating you seek. You both will initial each area covered. Humans are not perfect, even instructors, and this document helps insure complete training.

About USHPA Instructors

The United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association has very thorough training and instructor program for paragliding. Ours was based on it. Learning to paraglide first is an effective (and fun) way to get into the sport but there are significant extra techniques and emergency recoveries when power is added. Learning these is not part of the USHPA program. Learning them will make a huge difference in your success and survival in powered paragliding.

To safely fly powered, you must get training from an instructor intimately familiar with the intricacies of motor flying and, even better, your specific brand. Paramotor pilots come to grief for completely different reasons than free flyers, ergo the recommendation for thorough, qualified USPPA/USUA certified paramotor instructors who use the syllabus.

A USHPA-only instructor who does extensive motor flying will likely know these techniques and emergencies but check around and make sure they use the USPPA syllabus. There are numerous USHPA and USPPA/USUA certified instructors out there.

Certified Paragliders

The USPPA also recommends using paragliders by one of the respected certification organizations such as EN, DHV, and DULV. Older gliders may be certified through AFNOR, APCUL, or SHV. The purpose of certification is to help insure minimum structural and flight characteristic standards are met. Even though most certification is intended for free flight, it still has relevance as a starting point for motor flying.

One caveat, some gliders, usually with a “reflex” profile, are designed to be collapse resistant. These may not meet certification standards since most certification standards rate recovery characteristics more than collapse resistance. Consult with your instructor and the paraglider manual about any potential glider purchase.

The Money Aspect

USPPA doesn’t make a dime on either instructor or pilot certification. In fact, each rating costs the organization about $4, a cost that we swallow. The same is true for Tandem instructors who do not pay for their exemption access  through USPPA.

It’s most definitely not about the money. Both USPPA and USUA have gone out of their way to remove cost as a factor in getting certified. Using certified training and certified wings helps insure some minimum qualification for learning.

You pay your trainer an agreed-on amount that USPPA does not set or gain from. We would like to see instructors earn fair compensation for their expertise but it’s up to them to set rates. Lets face it, if instructors can’t make it work financially, the sport will have fewer of them.

USPPA
500 Westover Dr. #2384
Sanford, NC 27330
866-37-USPPA (87772)