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Paramotoring/Paragliding friendly to new people?


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Hello

I have been looking around trying to understand more about paramotoring and paragliding. Important things like where the best training is, where you can take off and land, clubs and ability to drop into clubs around the UK to avoid flying around in a circle till you get fed up at your home club...and cost of course.

I have to say I'm a bit intimidated/put off by the apparent politics, and perhaps the casualness of training "professionals" who dont reply or half reply...and dont give me the confidence they are around enough to get my training done in a reasonable time.

BHPA says on their website

"With a budget of £5,000 or so you'll be able to buy new equipment and cover the cost of a training course. "

This appears to be complete garbage, with paramotors costing £4,500+ and wings £2,000 plus you are over £6,500 before helmets, radios and training.

I sent the BHPA two emails enquiring and they didnt reply to any of them.

Then there is this bun fight (BHPA vs not) everyone appears to be having with BHPA members telling me that I would be wasting my money if I trained with a non-BHPA club, have no insurance and no recognition. The suggestion that if you are non-BHPA trained you cant go around the country and fly at other clubs...though reading posts around the net it looks like BHPA members have problems flying at other BHPA member clubs (many not being very friendly to outsiders).

Oh Ive also been warned that if you are not a BHPA member you wont have insurance and the sky will fall in...and you cant fly at most clubs because the land is in use on the condition that its insured under BHPA.

I almost signed up...I saw a CP course advertised £800 local to me (in south oxfordshire). I thought I could always have a go, meet a few people and find out that way. If it wasnt what I wanted then I would stop at £800, if not I would buy equipment and progress. But after enquiring suddenly the price was £900, and when I pointed out it was £800 on the website the reply was all about how expensive it is to run a club, and finished with the comment that it should be £1700 really as its BHPA and worth more...and that if he got less students because of the higher price that would be fine!

He actually was very helpfull in answering other questions, but I had made a decision to spend £800 and the idea of it suddenly being more than advertised and this BHPA scare was by this time putting me off.

It appears so far that its expensive, clubs are not necessarily welcoming to outsiders, training is an extension of someones hobby and not full time professional, and the organisations do not get on or indeed reply to enquiries.

Before all of this I had imagined that I could get proper safe training to a good standard. Then be able to visit other clubs and take the hobby around the country to fly in other interesting places.

To be honest I'm thinking of going back to PPL which I gave up due to cost. At least I know what I'm getting if I go to the local flying school (assuming you pick a good instructor).

Any advice warmly welcomed, I'm not presenting this as a true reflection of your sport, just the impressions I have gained through my efforts to understand how it works and find training.

Andy

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Hello Andy and welcome,

It's a bit of a shame you have initially found the paragliding/paramotoring frisson that sometimes occurs.

If you wish to pursue paramotoring then there is no need to get BHPA paragliding training before hand.

The BHPA are primarily a paragliding association and will always push the approach of CP then further 'qualifications' in order to fly.

In reality there is no need of any qualification or license to fly a paramotor in the UK. It is of course highly recommended that you have professional training, this is a very good place to look.

There are a number of very experienced instructors on here who have followed a very well structured and regarded training syllabus. A couple of them are out of the country at the moment but others will make themselves known shortly I am sure.*

In respect of kit you are correct with the cost of motor, wing and training, I suspect the BHPA site(s) were only quoting training and wing as the motor training is additional.

Depending where you are in the country, it would be useful to you to attend the first fly in on April 13-15 and meet some of the pilots, see this tread viewtopic.php?f=39&t=7283

Cheers,

Alan

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To be fair it does say ''or so'' and an extra £2500 wouldn't go amiss if you are buying new. :wink:

A lot of people elect to go brand new for the wing £2-2500 and second hand for the motor. That option should easily get you going for around 5K

Some schools insist on you using all your own gear and some supply it for all of the ground handling. Schools can also charge by the hour (£25-£35ph) and you could choose to go down that route instead of paying in one lump sum.

Whatever you do, don't rush into it. Take lots of advice, but dont listen to any one person. (and go to a fly in!)

Rich

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Hi Andy,

Pop to Membury any time after the 21st ( I am in China at the moment ) we will show you how a FUN SAFE club is run :-)

Welcome to the Paramotor Club and you are of course more than welcome at our club :-)

In my opinion the BHPA have a great way of sapping the fun from the sport ( this is just my view ) and why the PMC exists we have clubs up and down the UK and you would be welcome at any of them once flying. It is true that the BHPA have most of the 'Paragliding' sites nailed down, but next to no Paramotor sites. and you will not be welcome at any of there sites on a Paramotor as they are noise sensitive hill sites.

There is no legal requirement for you to have any 'licence' or 'rating' (whatever you want to call it) or even insurance at it happens.

No bit of paper makes you any better off non are worth the paper they are written on ( including the PMC rating )

Call me.

SW :D

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but don't call him while he's in China. It'll cost you a fortune :D

The key for me was asking questions. Don't worry too much about the politics. There really isn't any (lot's of opinions, but that's what makes it interesting IMHO).

If you want to go flying then it's accessible and great fun. It's nothing like the PPL. I think you're looking at the "club circuit". there's a collection of pilots up and down the country. You'd be welcome to fly with any of them i'm sure. Just ask if anyone's going (in a particular area) I'm sure you'll get bombarded with positive responses. At then end of the day the folk doing this want to be up aloft (it's where the fun is)

Once I get a few more hours under my belt I certainly intend to "visit" and fly with other pilots.

Have fun, there's no such thing as a silly question.

Al

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Hi Andy

sorry to hear you are having a bad experience trying to find information out about paramotoring.

In the main there are a few groups, but not many paramotoring "clubs", unlike paragliding where just about everyone is in a club.

We fly on the south coast and use this forum or ring around, but there isn't a club as such.

Both of my paramotors I have purchase secondhand and have been fantastic.

The first was on the recommendation of a paramotoring friend and the other off skyads.

They were both half the price of new and in great condition. I have flown full pelt on them in several comps.

Be warned though, some units will not be genuine at all, so its worth asking others in forums like this about the seller or the secondhand motor you see.

My first wing was also secondhand, from someone I got to know.

Buying a new wing when you begin would seem to be a bad idea as you may find you want something else after a year or so.

A second hand wing will not lose you as much money as buying new.

If you want to fly in competitions, which is great fun, see: http://www.ppgcomps.co.uk/

There are UK league and Open comps.

If you can, come along to the league and register to marshal, no experience needed!

You'll meet a lot of very keen pilots who will be only too willing to help you in your decision.

Also if you want to fly in comps you will need insurance, which is one of the things that the bhpa do offer

Their training courses are structured and set by the national body for paramotoring, which is what they are.

They have decades of experience of running courses and training the instructors.

This is probably one of the reasons why they can get insurance for us all.

The bhpa Pilot exam for paramotoring ensures that you have the knowledge that is essential before you take to the skies on your own.

As you know you do not have to go through the bhpa route, and I know there are very good non bhpa instructors, but I am not sure who or how they are regulated

I hope you find the solution that works for you

Teresa

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Hi Andy,

Teresa makes some excellent points and I'll try to add a bit, since you mention an interest in both paragliding and paramotoring.

The BHPA is the National body (governing, representing, regulating - call it what you will) for all forms of foot launched flying in the UK - including PG, PPG, HG, speed wings etc. This has the advantage of giving it a large body of members when negotiating with the CAA and other organisations, but as a consequence leaves a few people complaining that it doesn't represent "their" particular niche sport (such as PPG) enough. This is unavoidable but once you understand the full amount of work the BHPA does for our sport behind the scenes (apart from the obvious insurance & magazine) then it makes a lot of sense.

Our sport is under constant threat from those who seek to restrict, regulate or even ban it - so there is a clear need for such a National organisation to represent members interests (even if it can't please 100% of them every time. Here is one such example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-17363496

If that is the view taken against "environmentally friendly PG flyers, you can imagine the outcry over 'noisy, dangerous PPG' .....

The PMC is a great club for those in the South of England but offers little to those outside of their region (apart from this excellent forum :D ) although being specificially a PPG club it can be a lot more focused on that area. Its not really a "bun fight" but people naturally proclaim 'their' club to be the best (thankfully not to the extremes of football or other clubs)....

The next thing to understand is the way the BHPA is structured between training schools and clubs, so there is a clear progression - you start at a school under the constant eye of an instructor, then move on to a club. Clubs can't "teach" beginners (although they have coaches who assist new members to progress and improve, at no cost), so they might seem slightly intimidating to a beginner who has not even started training. I can assure you that once you join one of the local clubs you won't meet a friendlier bunch of like minded individuals, who share a common (and differing) interests and watch out for each others safety.

The PMC being smaller (and with vastly fewer flying sites) can more easily combine training within the club environment.

On the subject of sites, the various BHPA clubs have fought hard for their access agreements so are bound to be protective (and territorial). Some of the landowners demand a great deal of money (for providing virtually nothing) and insist on a fully qualified and insured "members only" policy. Simon has a similar PMC scheme at Membury which may appear similarly restrictive but is simply protecting his interest and investment : http://www.paramotorclub.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7415&hilit=membury

So, you have various options for training if you only wish to fly PPG, but if you also want to paraglide in the UK then the BHPA provides the only viable option. Not every instructor is perfect but you can learn a lot from most of them. As a qualified coach in various other sports I know that different teaching styles suit different people, so it is worth doing your research before parting with any money. :wink:

Outwardly all of this might seem very restrictive, but in reality works well. I've flown upwards of 60 sites in the UK and many other countries (PG and PPG) and been welcomed as a fellow pilot as far away as Thailand. Look beyond the local club scene and you will find a worldwide community where you will meet some of the most amazing people and make lasting friendships. Of course there will always be the odd idiot or 'bad apple in the barrel' - but the same can be said about PPL or any other sport.

Flying rules, gravity sucks ! :lol::wink:

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Thanks to everyone so far, this is really interesting and helps me understand.

It also re-enforces some key issues I guess.

Searching the internet I found a bunch of people saying they wanted to fly from another clubs site and were told they were not welcome, perhaps with the added suggestion that their training was not recognised. And the result was that many of the posters would say its public land and they will fly anyway.

It seems the above issue compounds the problem. One thing PPL training does is drum into you the procedures and the massive consequences (often in the shape of the CAA taking your to court) of failing to abide. You MUST NOT bust airspace, or arrive at PPR sites without getting permission except in emergency. Flight rules (500ft etc) are either adhered to or you are likely to find yourself in court.

So my expectation is that you look for a local club and you take advice, you use (perhaps pay them a token fee) a clubs site. The moment there is a conflict over who's training is worth anything you end up with a situation where some people feel they will fly anyway. I personally would not do that, but I can understand if you paid for a qualification, got lots of hours, then were told by clubs you were not welcome and your qualification was useless...I can understand them feeling they might fly anyway.

I have been told several times that if I dont get BHPA training it will not be recognised. So progression then becomes starting from scratch if you want to move from paramotoring to paragliding I guess?

I would suggest as an outsider, that BHPA trainers saying their training is worth more than non BHPA experienced schools (and respected trainers) does little to encourage everyone to standardise training under the BHPA.

I want to do the right training. I want to do the best training. I dont want to be told (as I have been) that BHPA training should be more expensive because I would be wasting my money with a non BHPA school...because that feels like someone is twisting my arm :)

Especially when the BHPA website says you can buy new equipment and get trained for £5,000 (you wouldnt even get new equipment for that) and their approved trainers are hiking training costs saying they are worth more. It seems to show that they are out of touch or that PPG is a tiny and insignificant part of their work.

I want the BHPA to reply to my 2 emails instead of ignoring them too. Not a great way of making me feel the BHPA is working for members and prospective members.

It seems that its clear that if I want to do paragliding I need a BHPA trainer?

So what I still dont understand is what happens if you want to progress, perhaps do competitions. Not that I do...but does that require a BHPA qualification? Would they make you pay for training from the start again in the BHPA because they dont think your training was good enough outside?

And the insurance issue...if someone sees you and doesnt like the noise of your engine, then complains to the CAA saying you were below 500ft over their town (even if you were not), does the BHPA step in legally to protect you?

Ive saw somewhere a post that you dont need insurance for a bicycle because its unregulated and PPG are the same. But everybody rides or has ridden a bike and the reaction of the general public is predictable. The reaction to a PPG flying over lambs in lambing season, or over a field next to a village where they are having a BBQ may be less predictable...and it makes me more nervous being without any insurance.

So for me its all inter-related. Having accepted training, being able to fly into events perhaps, and tested insurance. Because insurance is only useful if its designed to cover the actual risk...

Quite frankly, if the BHPA want to standardise training they should standardise the content AND fee for the course! And schools should publish their fees on their websites and stick to it.

:)

Andy

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Hi Andy

Dont be put off by the BHPA not getting back to you, although its a large Organization it is basically run by tow lady's in an office.. If you are thinking about doing both aspects of the sport you should go via the BHPA. As Teresa said you will have insurance and schools all over the country..

As for the cost of Equipment i think the 1 the web site is out of date.. 2 just gining you rough idea of the cost's. You can buy second hand BUT make sure you get good advise on what to buy....

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Andy

Not sure what specific discussion you found on the internet but it is probably not representative of the UK scene. There are some (such as Murray Hay, BHPC) who make it their sole mission to moan about the BHPA, which does not contribute anything to the situation.

The vast majority of club sites are open to visiting pilots. Some (such as Long Mynd) have a token fee at weekends when the site is particularly busy - this contributes to maintenance and is never a problem - if you fly there frequently a full membership is about 50p per week .... buttons compared to PPL fees. A few sites are restricted to full members only due to particular access agreements imposed by the landowner (not the club) - same as Simon does at Membury.

You are off the mark about training as ALL training of a similar standard is relevant (I'm happy to fly abroad with non-BHPA trained pilots) and if you have gained experience or training elsewhere then it is simple to convert that to the equivalent BHPA rating, or 'alternative entry system'. You most certainly do not have to start again from scratch, so you could learn to fly PPG with the PMC, gain some experience and convert to BHPA later if you wanted to benefit from things like insurance. Similarly, from a BHPA rating you can convert to an international IPPI pilot rating, or another countries system if you move abroad - without starting from scratch.

Training (done anywhere) is not the end result but a starting point so you can fly safely with others, gain experience and progress at your own rate - into comps or whatever your interest - there is a clear path to progress along once you have the basic 'qualification' or rating.

The majority of BHPA schools offer fixed price training. http://www.airways-airsports.com/showkb.php?org_id=516&kb_header_id=242&kb_id=449

Some offer subsidised training if you also purchase equipment through them, or cheaper combined costs for training abroad. Some charge slightly different fees due to size, facilities costs or other reasons even though the syllabus is the same. I don't see a problem with that. Freedom of choice.

And the insurance issue...

Does your car insurance cover you against speeding or driving with a mobile phone ? The BHPA insurance is good, and tested, but won't cover you for breaches of air law or shutting down Heathrow by foot dragging along their main runway. If people complained about you to the CAA the worst you would likely get is a warning letter. If you are worried, just keep your GPS track logs to prove you are in the clear.

As for contact with the BHPA, just call them on 0116 289 4316

They are currently running a survey from their front page to improve communication issues, so let them know if you have not had replies to your emails, and let them know their estimated price for PPG training & equipment is now out of date (with inflation & VAT increases).

Seems to me like you are worrying about problems that really don't exist (no offence) or have simple solutions.

As for the "best" training I could suggest some good names, but can't say that all BHPA instructors are better than PMC or some freelance trainers. It all depends on where you live and what you ultimately want to achieve.

Alan

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Thanks morgy, aquatix

Just to reframe where this is coming from aquatix :)

you said "Some offer subsidised training if you also purchase equipment through them, or cheaper combined costs for training abroad. Some charge slightly different fees due to size, facilities costs or other reasons even though the syllabus is the same. I don't see a problem with that. Freedom of choice."

I was decided to train at a school, but the price advertised was not honored, and when I asked why part of the response was that BHPA training was worth so much more that other training and should be much more up to £1700. Hence the foundation of much of the BHPA research and how I began to see a pattern. Bad news always travels faster and longer, so I'm not suggesting this is the general scene...hence why I have asked the questions and really pleased and impressed with the time people have taken on here to reply. :)

Insurance, yes car insurance will not cover you if you are doing something illegal. But it also may not cover you if you have a legal car with a modified exhaust and dont tell them, or you park on the road when you told them it was garaged. So for any insurance its important to understand what you are covered for, a civil complaint about noise for example may not be criminally illegal but there are plenty of people out there with the money and time to take you to court!

Oh and I contacted BHPA via their advertised email to advise them their PPG cost was not correct, twice, with no reply.

I think my head is pretty straight now though thanks to all these posts...many thanks every one.

So...Paragliding, works on clubs (with their own hills with agreements), most clubs are BHPA so good to take their training for paragliding

Paramotoring is more of a friendly gathering of like minded people and not officially networked. So you get good training (somewhere, perhaps with Simon!) and find likeminded people to fly with.

Can you fly a paramotor into a meet/flyin without BHPA membership or other insurance?

I'll catch up with Simon when he gets back and have a chat in person :)

Thanks

Andy

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Can you fly a paramotor into a meet/flyin without BHPA membership or other insurance?

Thanks

Andy

You would be welcome at any PMC fly-in ( there is one coming up in Cheshire V soon )

SW :D

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Andy,

It sounds like that school gave you a poor response and I agree that advertised prices should be honoured. A better reply would have been that properly registered BHPA schools have higher overheads than freelance instructors. If you get the chance, go to the open days at Airways next weekend where you can meet people and ask loads of questions.

All flying sites (hill and paramotor fields) effectively have some form of club structure to manage access. Some are more open (or easily accessible) than others.

Insurance is only enforced at some events (such as PPG Nationals) but the minimum of Public Liability is highly advisable for all, If you flew into my van or chopped up my wing with your prop at a fly-in I would expect some sort of payment to cover the damage. Not aware of any legal cases yet but it should cover you against claims for livestock, horses etc if you are flying legally (although the PG ban in Preseli is a worrying trend), and a civil complaint about noise would be very hard to pursue.

Back to the thread title though, I think PG & PPG pilots are some of the friendliest bunch of people you could meet (with a good mix of pi$$-taking banter) and even more so once you actually become a pilot and share the adventure.

You would be welcome at any PMC fly-in ( there is one coming up in Cheshire V soon )

Didn't realise Mark's fly-in was now an officiall PMC event ..... :P:wink:

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