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Flying through the air with a powered ultralight aircraft is an experience like nothing else. But what’s better: powered hang gliders or paramotors?
Maybe you’re a veteran hang glider pilot and you want to try something that uses a motor, or maybe you’re just getting into it and feel more comfortable flying a powered-ultralight aircraft. In either case, the choice will come down to powered hang gliders vs paramotors. So which one should you go for?
Powered hang gliders and paramotors are basically engine-powered versions of hang gliders and paragliders, respectively. By using the engine, pilots can take off and stay in the air much longer than before. Powered hang gliding is typically a bit more exciting than flying a paramotor.
So you're thinking about getting into the world of powered hang gliding or paramotoring? Well, you've come to the right place. In this article, we will compare and contrast these two sports in detail so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. Powered hang gliders and paramotors are both types of ultralight aircraft, but they differ in many ways. Let's figure out which one is better for you.
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Powered Hang Gliders vs Paramotors: A Complete Guide
Before we get into the specifics of either one of these sports, let's take a step back and answer some questions you might have about them. After all, someone that isn't very well-versed in these types of sports might think that powered hang gliders and paramotors are effectively the exact same thing.
They might be somewhat similar on a macro scale, but there are quite a few differences between the two. In this article, we'll be discussing the following topics:
- What are powered hang gliders?
- What are paramotors?
- The differences between powered hang gliders and paramotors
- Which one is safer?
- Which one is easier to do/learn?
- Which one is more fun?
- Who should do which sport?
Let's dive in.
What is a Powered Hang Glider?
A powered hang glider is an aircraft that combines the features of a traditional hang glider with that of a powered aircraft. Powered hang gliders typically have a small engine attached to the frame, which allows the pilot to take off and stay in the air without having to rely on thermals or other weather conditions. This can make them a good option for anyone that isn't experienced enough to really take advantage of the winds to stay in the air.
Powered hang gliders are significantly heavier than traditional hang gliders, which can make them more difficult to control in some conditions. However, the extra weight also makes them more stable in the air and less likely to be affected by turbulence. So it's a bit of give and take when it comes to controlling and handling, but you will certainly be able to stay in the air and potentially even fly much faster than you could with a traditional hang glider.
What is a Paramotor?
A paramotor is a type of powered aircraft that is very similar to a paraglider in its most basic sense. If you're more of a hang glider yourself and not too knowledgeable about paragliding just yet, make sure you check out our full article on hang gliding vs paragliding. That article will give you a great base knowledge of hang gliding and it will further accentuate many of the things we'll discuss herein since the comparison is so similar!
All of that said, you can think of a paramotor like a paraglider with, well a motor. This motor is typically attached to the back of the pilot in a backpack-style fashion and provides thrust to help the pilot take off and stay in the air. The motor also allows paramotor pilots to fly much faster than paragliders, which can be great for anyone that wants to cover some serious ground quickly!
Like powered hang gliders, paramotors typically have some sort of frame or "cage" around the pilot. This is for safety reasons as it helps protect the pilot from the blades of the propeller and can even help keep them same in the event of a crash. The cage also gives the pilot something to hold onto while flying, which can be helpful since paramotors don't have any sort of cockpit like an airplane does.
In essence, a powered hang glider is more or less just a normal hang glider with a motor attached to it. Similarly, a paramotor is a paraglider with a motor attached to it. Of course there is more nuance to it than that (like we just talked about!), but that's the easiest way to have a basic understanding of these two sports. They're just motorized versions of their base sport!
Safety and Risks of Powered Hang Gliders vs Paramotors
Now that we know what each sport entails, let's talk about some of the risks and safety concerns involved with each.
First up, let's talk about powered hang gliders. As we just discussed, these aircraft are significantly heavier than traditional hang gliders. This weight can make them more difficult to control in some situations and can also make them more likely to crash. Additionally, the engines on powered hang gliders can pose a fire hazard if they are not properly maintained.
Next, let's talk about paramotors. While paramotors are generally considered to be safer than powered hang gliders, they do have their own risks and safety concerns. For instance, paramotors can be difficult to control in high winds and can also be dangerous if they are not properly maintained. Additionally, paramotors can be noisy, which can be a problem for both the pilot and those on the ground.
So, which one is safer? Overall, it is hard to say which sport is definitively safer. However, powered hang gliders tend to be riskier than paramotors, so if safety is your top priority, you may want to choose a paramotor.
Unfortunately, it's hard to really quantify this information with these two activities because there is no concrete data about accidents and fatalities. Due to the similarities between these sports and the base activities, I recommend checking out our Hang Gliding vs Paragliding article on safety, as we discuss the safety of those sports in-depth, and it can be loosely applied here as well!
Powered Hang Gliders vs Paramotors: Which One is Easier?
Now that we've talked about the safety concerns of each sport, let's talk about which one is easier to learn. After all, anyone that's just getting into these types of sports might want to start with whichever one is going to be a bit easier to learn. That said, it's hard to really say definitively because how easy something is to one person might not be easy for another person. It really varies from individual to individual.
That being said, many people seem to think that paramotors are easier to learn on than powered hang gliders, for many of the same reasons that paragliding is typically easier to learn than hang gliding. This is because of things such as hang gliding requires more upper body strength in order to steer and maneuver, and this is only exacerbated by the additional weight of a powered hang glider.
Powered Hang Gliders vs Paramotors: Which One is More Fun?
Last but not least, let's talk about which one of these sports is more fun. And, just like with everything else, this really varies from person to person. Some people might find that the thrill of flying high up in the air on a powered hang glider is more exhilarating than anything else, while others might prefer the slower pace and relative tranquility of paramotoring.
So, which one should you choose? Well, it really depends on what you're looking for in a sport. If you want something that's relatively easy to learn, then paramotoring may be the way to go. However, if you want something that's more challenging and exhilarating, then powered hang gliding might be more up your alley. Ultimately, it's up to you!