Paramotoring is basically paragliding with a motor driven propeller suspended under an aerodynamic wing style parachute. The pilot is usually attached to the paramotoring rig with a harness and the pilot's legs are used as the landing gear. There are also paramotoring harness rigs with wheels, which opens the door for physically challenged participants. This niche sport falls under FAA ultralight aircraft rules, which means no pilot license is needed, unless a passenger is onboard. Local aviation rules govern when and where paramotoring can take place and local public lands administrations have a say in the matter too. The wide open spaces in public lands is where most paramotoring goes on and the scenic areas tend to be the most popular spots. There are also places in the great outdoors where paramotoring is taboo, like wildlife preserves and seasonal bird nesting areas, so checking the local regulation is necessary before flying like a bird high in the sky.
Special training for how to operate a powered paraglider will be necessary and California is the home of many top notch powered paragliding instructors. It helps to have skydiving parachute experience before attempting paramotoring and a good foundation of common sense is a real plus too. Overall, with training and a few successful practice flights a participant will be ready to take to the skies. The total cost for a paramotoring rig is in the $10k range, which actually is an attainable price for those who wish to delve into this extreme sport. Of course the training bills and insurance will be pricey too, but the chance to take to the skies is well worth the expense.
As can be seen in the DestinationWest.Org landscape galleries, I do spend quite a bit of time photographing Trona Pinnacles in southern California. Sunrise, sunset and the dark of night are best for photographers in this unique scenic area and I just finished doing a long exposure sunrise image composition when I caught a glimpse of a powered paraglider approaching in the distance. After switching to a camera that I use for birding, I got busy capturing images of the paramotoring pilot weaving his way through the towering tufa in this otherworldly environment. The Mojave Desert air was cold and dead calm that morning, which is perfect for paramotoring in this picturesque place. The early morning sunlight painted the tall tufa pinnacles with a golden glow, which must have been spectacular to see while soaring like a bird way up overhead. Watching the masterful paramotoring pilots do their thing certainly was entertaining and sharing the experience may even coax a few newcomers to give this amazing ultralight sport a try. One look at the photos is all it takes to get hooked, so be sure to keep Trona Pinnacles in mind when taking to the skies!
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