Which To Go For: Paramotor or Paragliding?

Have you found yourself wondering how you can fly like a bird without having to incur huge costs? It is possible to get a personal aircraft propelled by the wind to allow you to fly with the birds and enjoy a bird view of your neighborhood or other tourist scenes.

Paragliders, paramotors, parasailing, and skydiving are common recreational activities that make this dream come true.

Paramotors and paragliders are launched on land and comprise a canopy, tow line, and harness. They are basic parachutes that allow you to enjoy great sunset views from above.

Paragliders depend solely on wind speed. On the other hand, Paramotors have an engine worn as a backpack to help with ground launching and maneuverability. The engine can either be a 2-stroke engine or a 4-stroke depending on your purchasing power and preferences.

Two-stroke paramotor engines are light, consume less oil, are cheaper to make, and easy to repair. However, they produce higher emissions and are slower than four-stroke engines. On the other hand, 4-stroke engines are heavier, more expensive but have better performance but more reliable than two-stroke engines.

What’s the main difference between paragliding and paramotoring?

The main difference between paragliding and paramotoring is in their launch and maneuvering mechanisms.

A paraglider is a free-flying foot-launched aircraft used for recreational purposes.  You need the wind and a hilltop to launch a paraglider. In addition, wind speeds of between 2mph and 18 mph will allow the paraglider to operate optimally, but you need to be able to catch thermals to lift it to a higher altitude.  Some people use a non-motorized aircraft, whose wings are out of view, for hang gliding.

Don’t confuse paragliding and parasailing. The latter is a recreational activity where a person gets towed behind a vehicle, usually a boat. In most cases, they are attached to a specially made parachute that’s known as a parasail.

Paramotors, on the other hand, are just powered gliders. You strap the motor, spark it and launch in an open field. The engine makes it easy to control the paramotors and also allows for faster elevation. However, poor training can result in fatalities, especially during launch or landing.

Turbulence and wind gushes of over five mph are not good for paragliding. In addition, the motor makes paramotors heavy and more expensive than a free-flying foot launched gliders.

At 50 Ibs, paramotors are still considered ultralights. Therefore, you do not need a license to enjoy paragliding or paramotoring.

However, you can use a specially designed parachute known as light sports aircraft for tandem flying. Tandem flying happens during training and involves a licensed pilot and the student.

Due to the high risks associated with flying, pilots need an FAA license to fly such chutes. Tandem paragliding is also a popular tourist activity in mountain ranges.

Lighter paramotors are not equipped with tandem flying equipment and are thus only used for solo flying. However, you can join a club or invite friends to fly with you in their gliders.

Can I use a paramotor wing for paragliding?

Paragliders are cheaper and more popular than paramotors. Therefore, it is easy for you to ask, ‘Can’t I just buy a cheap paraglider and add a motor for better maneuverability?’ Well, this is possible, but not a very good idea.

Paragliders and paramotors are styled differently to operate under different conditions. For example, paraglider wings fly freely using thermals, while paramotors use both thermals and motors.

Given the weights of an engine, paramotors have trimmers to handle heavier weight. However, some people have used paragliding wings for paramotors and vice versa. Nevertheless, it is advisable to look for a universal attachment if you want this flexibility.  

Is Paramotoring safer than paragliding?

Both paramotoring and paragliding have different levels of risk. However, it is easier to control paramotors than paragliders, making it safer to fly a powered glider. 

However, during launch, a lot can happen.  Given that paramotors can launch from any location, it is easy to be tempted to launch from near a bush, power lines, or other obstacles. Hitting obstacles is the number one cause of ground accidents for paramotors.

Another common accident during launch usually has to do with a stuck throttle. If the throttle is jammed, it can easily cause the propeller to hit you and cause injuries.

If you launch before strapping yourself in, you are likely to lose your hand, fingers, and teeth.  When landing, a common accident involves landing in water. And while on-flight, if you do not know how to operate the equipment properly, you may have a serious accident.

Paramotoring pilots often carry an emergency parachute for a safe landing. With paragliding, there is no motor. So, you cannot control what happens up there. You only depend on thermals. The inability to control paragliders during flight makes them riskier than paramotors.

How long does a paraglider wing last?

The lifespan of a paramotor glider depends on usage and exposure. UV rays, general care, and environmental factors also affect its longevity.  While some parts may wear out faster than others, the wings will need replacement after about 300 flight hours.

The tips below will help you maintain safety when using paragliders and paragliders.

Causes of paramotor and paraglider accidents

Paramotors and paragliders as just as risky as driving. Accidents can happen on the ground or in the air.

As you plan to fly freely like a bird and enjoy those scenic sunset views, take note of the following safety issues:

  • Water immersion
  • Wear and tear
  • Poor maintenance of the paramotor glider
  • Obstacles during launch
  • Gas leaks
  • Poor or inadequate training
  • Pilot error while on flight
  • Negligence on the part of the pilot during launch
  • Engine failure
  •  Lack of protective gear
  • Bad weather
  • Poor etiquette during flight such as untucked hair


To be safe during your flight, carry out regular maintenance of your glider, wear protective gear, and always follow the user manual. In addition, tuck in your hair and get the relevant training before launching your aircraft. Training can be as short as 30 minutes, and you can fly with a tandem pilot during this period. Keep the tandem flight weight below 240 kilos. Lastly, never fly in winds or at night to prevent the risk of wing deformation and collapse.

Do paragliders have engines?

No, paragliders are flying foot-launched aircraft that do not need an engine. They only need wings, tow lines, and a harness. The wind propels them. You need to launch them on a slope and stop when the wind stops.

Paramotor Glider Maintenance Tips

Most glider repairs are minor and can be done at home. However, some major repairs cannot be done at home. If you are too busy or unable to handle a repair, you can go to the motorcycle repair shop or a local mechanic for help. If you need to replace any part, call the manufacturer.

To track servicing and schedule maintenance in time, attach an hour meter to the engine. After every flight, wipe away any dust and clean the paraglider well for storage. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to disassemble it and store it in a dry and dark place.

After every 10 hours of flight, you need to check the bolts, throttle, fuel, and engine to ensure they are in good condition. Also, check the glider for any leaks or cracks on the frame and harness.

It may also help check the spark plug and fuel/air mixture color every 25 hours.

Ensure the belt tension is correct to avoid slips during launch. Too tight or too loose belt tension can cause accidents and accelerate wear and tear. Check the user manual for the proper belt tension.

The throttle cable is a major cause of paramotor accidents. Check it regularly to ensure it is properly oiled. A dry throttle cable wears quickly and also gets jammed faster.

Your glider’s air filter can become clogged and also lose its elasticity with use. Bugs and dust can also get trapped in the air filter.  Remove them and clean the air filter with an appropriate cleaner. Once done, apply filter oil and return it. If it has lost elasticity, replace it immediately before your next flight.

When pistons and rings wear out, your engine will start to produce more smoke. Check the engine after 100 hours of flight. The exhaust system can also become damaged, especially by cheap oil. Clean the combustion chamber and decoke the exhaust port regularly. Finally, replace the wings after 300 hours of flight.

Learn Paragliding with Experts

At Texas Paramotor Training, we can show you how to use and navigate the free-flying foot-launched glider and the paramotor.  We have world-class trainers with lots of experience in hang gliders and paramotors for recreational and competitive sports.  To learn more about our lessons and equipment, contact Ryan at 512 545 6280 or send us a message online via our contact form.

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