Our Training Philosophy
Paramotor instruction built on the tenets of proficiency, knowledge, confidence, safety, and fun!
Commitment to Safety
Safety isn’t an accident. We believe safety is a discipline, mindset, and culture. Our deliberate training process helps students avoid the common mistakes and pitfalls beginners typically encounter though faulty instruction or in the process of “self-training”, and our impeccable safety record is a testament to the focus and professionalism of our instructor cadre and training partners. Since 2016, we’ve trained more than 270 students alongside our partners in Florida, Costa Rica, Michigan, South Carolina, Alabama, Illinois, and Wisconsin. During this time, we’ve conducted more than 5,500 flight operations without a single training accident or mishap resulting in either injury or significant equipment damage, and we continue to work diligently to mitigate risk and give our students the safest experience possible.
Quality over Quantity
Our focus is on the quality of students we train rather than the quantity of students we train— this is reflected in our intentionally small class sizes and the limited amount of sessions we host per month. Class sizes are limited to a maximum of six students and we typically only schedule one Full-Time session per month. A 2:1 student to instructor ratio ensures that each student receives a training partner, focused attention, and personalized instruction suited to their specific abilities and needs. We prefer to host even-numbered student groups, as the team-based training environment provides a synergistic support structure and capitalizes on available learning opportunities.
Expert Hands-on Instruction, Tailored to the Individual
Members of our instructor cadre don’t just consider themselves to be instructors—they also consider themselves to be coaches, educators, mentors, and friends that are committed to the long-term safety and success of their students. We’re a group of experts, professionals, and artists committed to perfecting our craft, and passionate about sharing and fostering the sport we love.
While our training process is regimented and thorough, our experienced instructors understand the importance of focusing on each student as an individual; they understand how to:
Adjust their teaching methods and instructional techniques to most effectively accommodate different backgrounds, learning styles, and physical abilities.
Identify and leverage strengths and prior experiences.
Identify and overcome weaknesses and obstacles to learning.
Inspire students to conquer their fears and frustrations, encourage, and build confidence.
Help each student achieve their goals and reach their full potential as safely and efficiently as possible.
Brilliance in the Basics
The learning law of primacy states that whatever a student learns first creates a strong, lasting impression. In other words, the things that are learned first tend to turn into unshakable habits. Therefore, it’s critically important that students learn to do things the right way the first time they’re exposed to a new technique, skill, or idea. It’s for this reason that our instructors invest a great deal of time, focus, and energy in teaching sound techniques, and instilling routines that turn into lifelong practices.
Practicing poor technique under inadequate or faulty instruction not only has an obvious effect on safety, but can also lead to broken equipment, costly medical bills, and wasted physical effort in achieving the same results (not mention, bad habits which must eventually be overcome through increased repetition). Think of it this way: If, as an inexperienced golfer, you map a bad golf swing into your muscle memory, you’ll struggle more down the road to improve as a golfer than if you would’ve laid down a skilled swing under the instruction of a master from the very beginning. In the same way, following quality instruction, beginner pilots with fundamentally sound technique and a solid foundation of knowledge will grow faster, progress more safely, and advance further in the sport.
Building Block Approach
Our program utilizes a phased-approach to training, and incorporates a comprehensive ground school course alongside outdoor exercises which build practical skills. Beginning with the very first lesson on ground handling, our program’s systematic and deliberate process builds successive skills and lessons on top of each other like “building blocks” throughout the course of instruction. Our staff has invested a great deal of time and energy into discovering the most effective and efficient training sequence, which is reflected in our training syllabus and subject to continuous refinements. After students learn to clip into the risers and begin to learn the subtle inputs necessary to build an intuitive relationship with the glider, they move onto simulated flights, towing exercises, posture and throttle manipulation exercises, and initial solo flights. Generally, these first few phases of instruction are accomplished within the first four training days.
Following successive solo flights, the instructors will gradually and progressively provide less guidance until students are taking off, maneuvering, and landing independent of instruction. To conclude the course, our “Safety” Phase serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience, in which students collaboratively discuss the effects of human factors, decision making, risk management, and emergency/abnormal procedures, while also examining numerous multimedia case studies.
Safety Through Education
To those unfamiliar with the sport, paramotoring often appears to be significantly riskier than it actually is in practice. As with any form of aviation, there’s certainly a degree of risk inherent to flying a paramotor—this can be especially true when mistakes are borne out of inattention, recklessness, or any number of hazardous attitudes. That said, while paramotoring can be dangerous, it can also be one of the safest forms of personal flight that exists. Unlike many things in life, flying a paramotor is largely as safe as the decisions we make, and there’s a relatively high degree of control over one’s personal safety compared to driving a car, riding a motorcycle, or flying an airplane.
We strongly believe knowledge is the first step towards making safe decisions, and a new pilot cannot begin to make the sport of paramotoring safe based on bad, missing, or incomplete information. Therefore, our instructors strive to ensure that our students not only complete training with good technique, but also, a humble attitude and solid foundation of knowledge to build onto for the the rest of their flying career.
You are a Product of Your Training
This fundamental truth applies to all of us, at all levels of experience. Many people go about their lives under the false notion that with enough willpower, motivation, or belief in themselves, it’s somehow possible to magically “rise to the occasion”. While willpower and confidence are important to any pilot, focus and discipline are critical to becoming proficient at anything. We are only a product of the standards we hold ourselves to. As the saying goes, “Practice doesn’t make perfect—perfect practice makes perfect”. Author and philosopher Ryan Holiday explains,
“You’re a product of your training. A dog that’s allowed to chase cars will chase cars. A child who is never given any boundaries will become spoiled. An investor without discipline is not an investor—he’s a gambler. And a mind that isn’t in control of itself, that doesn’t understand its power to regulate itself, will be jerked around by external events and unquestioned impulses.
That can’t be how you’d like tomorrow to go; so you must be aware of it. You must put in place training and habits now to replace ignorance and ill-discipline. Only then will you begin to behave and act differently. Only then will you stop seeking the impossible, the shortsighted, and the unnecessary.”
The bottom line is that you’re never going to “rise to the occasion” — you’re only going to default to your lowest level of preparedness, which is the culmination of prior training, previously engrained skill, and experience. Every single class and lesson we teach is designed with this fundamental truth in mind.
Emphasis on Knowledge
One of the biggest differences between ParAmerica and most other paramotor schools is the emphasis we place on knowledge through the delivery of our comprehensive academic curriculum. Our expert, certified instructors lead more than 30 hours of interactive, in-person ground school lectures on subjects including:
Regulations, Law, and Public Perception
LZ Selection and Airport Usage
Aerodynamic Theory and Principles of Flight
Normal Flight Procedures
Meteorology and Weather Forecasts
Paramotor Anatomy and Common Components
Paramotor Maintenance and Inspections
Paraglider Design and Selection
Paraglider Care and Inspections
Aeronautical Decision Making
Risk Mitigation and Management
Reserve Parachute Selection and Basic Deployment Procedures
Each ground school lesson concludes with a question and answer period, and includes a student outline for note taking and future reference. Additionally, students take written tests at selected points throughout the course in order to gauge their progress, reinforce what they’ve been taught, and learn from what they might have missed along the way.
A picture paints a thousand words, but a video shows a thousand pictures. Each outdoor session concludes with a group debrief where instructors explain what they saw, and students and discuss the finer points of what they learned in that session. These debriefs are accompanied by videos of the students’ tows and flights, which are carefully analyzed and critiqued frame-by-frame—similar to how a football team would review game film on Monday morning. When combined with thoughtful reinforcement and correction (and sometimes callsigns), the use of video becomes a powerful tool which allows students to see what the instructors seeing. In turn, this allows the instructors to more efficiently equip students with the precise skills they need to be successful.
Too often, students are forced to purchase equipment from their instructor before beginning training, leaving them stranded with gear that is outdated, incorrectly sized, uncomfortable, or otherwise inappropriate for them. At ParAmerica, we believe your purchasing decision should be based on knowledge and personal experience, not marketing gimmicks, social media trends, or what an instructor requires you to purchase. For this reason, the use of all equipment is included in the training fee, leaving you with the freedom to “fly before you buy".
We Don't "Pencil-whip"
If you’re looking for a school or instructor to pencil-whip a rating, keep looking—we proudly uphold the standards of USPPA rating system, and will only issue ratings once the existing measurable standards for knowledge, skill, and experience are met and demonstrated.
While students are strongly encouraged to obtain their USPPA ratings after training, the training fee itself is not directly tied to the completion or issuance of a rating. Although it varies between students, by the end of or shortly after the completion of training, students who diligently apply themselves can expect to have the skill and knowledge level commensurate with that of a USPPA PPG2 rating.
More than Just a “Training Experience”
Training with ParAmerica is more than just a “training experience”—it’s a life experience.
Teaching someone how to fly a paramotor is a lot more than just teaching them how to read airspace or listen to the wind; it’s more than showing them how to take apart a motor, teaching them to squeeze a throttle, or guiding them to become one with the glider. Sure, it’s definitely all of those things, and then some—but those are only surface level, easily observable, immediately practical things that can be physically crossed-off of a training syllabus. Throughout the process of flight instruction, our students are equipped with the tools they need to dig deep and learn more about themselves in 10 short days than they have for the past 10 years; they're equipped with new eyes and wings to experience the world through.
We understand that our students are not only trusting us with their time, money, and life, they’re trusting us with how they want to put them to use. They’re trusting us with how they want to actually experience life. Our students often report that our training program acted as a powerful catalyst to significant personal growth, change, and self-discovery.
While our basic training program serves as a safe entry-point into the sport, it’s important for new pilots to realize their learning progression continues long after initial training. The aviator's learning process is a never-ending one, and our instructors will always be there to support you with mentorship and coaching—we’re your instructors for life. Former students and friends are always welcome and encouraged to attend training sessions in order to brush up on ground school, share the air with us, or simply do some “hangar flying”.
We hope to see you out there!