In many ways learning to fly and getting your powered parachute (PPC) sport pilot certificate is much like getting your driver’s license. The difference is that you’ll be taught in a powerd parachute light-sport aircraft (LSA) by a certificated flight instructor instead of in a car by a drivers’ education instructor. You’ll actually start flying the PPC, also known as a paraplane, during your very first lesson!
So how do you get started?
Talk to pilots
Talk with your friends about your desire to learn to fly a powered parachute LSA and become a sport pilot. You may be surprised how many of them are sport pilots. Pilots love to talk about flying and are always happy to give advice. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a pilot near you.
Find a flight school
Chances are good there’s a flight school near your home. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find flight schools near you. Once you have about three to choose from, then visit each to find one with an atmosphere that best suits your learning needs. Also consider travelling to receive training. We always say, “It is best to travel for training that suits your learning style, than to settle for training that doesn’t meet your needs.”
Take an introductory flight
Sign up for a short, introductory flight to find out what it’s like to be at the controls of a powered parachute. You’ll see what it’s like to visually inspect a PPC LSA before flight, take off, fly, land, park, and shut down.
Choose An Instructor
Some schools may have only one or several instructors to choose from. Assess your own learning style and find an instructor with a compatible teaching style. If after a few lessons you don’t think things are working out very well, schedule a lesson with another flight instructor. It’s OK to switch to an instructor whose teaching style better meets your needs.
The PPC LSA you’ll fly
Like falling in love with your first car long before you ever learned to drive, you may have a special place in your heart for a certain make or model of powered parachute long before you select a flight school. You may even select your flight school based in part upon the type of powered parachute that they fly. Many times, they will have a training facility is on the premises or can recommend one to you. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a powered parachute sales facility near you.
Budget your time and money
Calculate the hourly cost for the PPC flight instructor, powered parachute LSA rental (if applicable), and fuel. After you run the numbers, decide how often you can fly and then pencil lessons in your schedule. You’ll find that establishing a budget and schedule will make the flight training process go much smoother. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a powered parachute rental facility near you.
Apply for your student pilot certificate
This is similar to the learner’s permit you received when you’re learning how to drive. In the case of going for a sport pilot license, it is issued by an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) or your local FAA office. (In the case of going for a private pilot license, the student pilot certificate is part of your medical certificate, which certifies that you are fit for flight.) Talk with your certified flight instructor about getting a student pilot certificate (and/or medical certificate.)
Signup for flight lessons
You will first fly with a flight instructor and when you are ready, you will solo. The basic techniques of powered parachuting — takeoff, turning, landing — are fairly easy to learn. The Sport Pilot Certification Course will teach you about micrometeorology, different launch and flying techniques, safety procedures, etc. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a flight school / flight instructor near you for flight lessons.