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June 04           FAQ
May 04            Considerations   
March 04         Learning
February 04    Training 

June 04    Frederick Scheffel




FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions – Part 1
[Part of the following is an excerpt from the “PPC Guide & Training Manual”]

OK, IF you are a powered parachute “new-be” or “want-a-be”, then I bet you are excited about getting into powered parachuting. (Now if you are already into the sport of PPC’s, then I KNOW you are excited!)  And I would also guess that as a new or potential PPC pilot, you have a ton of questions that you have already compiled and hence you desire the answers.  Well, instead of the conventional approach where you hold the questions in the corner of your mind, while you read (or perhaps more likely – skim) the currently small selection of PPC manuals & training videos, and search for the answers to the questions that you can remember – let’s do it a bit different.  Let’s answer those common questions right off the bat.  Then you can relax a little about trying to remember all those questions (that PPC Instructors commonly get) and concentrate on absorbing the details and point-by-point explanations that give you the ‘BIG’ picture of powered parachutes during your next visit to a NAPPF (North American Powered Parachute Federation) educational seminar. [Please visit www.NAPPF.com for more information about the NAPPF – a PPC Pilots organization that excels at Representation, Education, Safety & Standards for the powered parachute Pilot’s world.]

What happens if the engine quits?

This has got to be the most frequently asked question.  Unfortunately I just don’t have the time to go in to it here.
OK, just kidding, just for you, I will make time.

The simple truth – it gets real quiet! 
Then life seems good again.  Stress is removed.  You truly begin to soar with the birds.  Well, at least this is what happens when you intentionally shut-off the engine, after you have been properly trained.  (Note: Due to the intense satisfaction received from Engine-Off flights, you may observe the addiction of the experienced PPC pilots who has acquired an appetite for this flight maneuver – some do intentional power-out flights A LOT!

Now, on the other hand, if you have an actual engine failure (not a very common occurrence but one you should absolutely prepare for) then you will find that the PPC is truly more stable and more maneuverable with the engine off, than with the engine running.  [You’re not fighting the engine’s torque, you are not being swung by a too-fast throttle movement and you are not being distracted by the engine’s noise.] So, essentially you will have an easy time gliding your PPC to your previously picked-out landing zone, and then sitting your ‘bird’ down safely.  With an easy to learn ‘flare’ maneuver, your PPC can ‘grease’ a landing just as straightforward as using the throttle to land.  Honest!  Ask an instructor - most love the opportunity to land ‘power-off’.

Why a Powered Parachute?

Why a powered parachute?  Boy is this a broad question – are you sure you want this to be your next question?
OK, OK, well, because:

·        It is probably the most fun you can have in the air in 3-dimensions with your clothes on.

·        It is the easiest flying vehicle we know about – there are only two airborne controls.  One to control your rise and decent as you sail through the skies, and the other to make turns (usually via the foot steering bars).

·        It is affordable

·        Easy to maintain. Besides keeping the unit sturdy, clean & dry, the most common part of the maintenance schedule is changing the oil and the plugs.

·        You don’t need a hangar. It takes very little room to store it – a single car garage can hold three units. 

·        It is also very easy to transport – a common utility trailer can easily carry your PPC to any fly-in. Hec, some people just add an extended shelf to the rear of their pick-up trucks and put the PPC there (without any trailer).  Or, if you have a Paraplane manufactured powered parachute, just pack it into the trunk of the car.

·        You can complete your basic training in 3 days.

·        You can fly year round.

·        It requires no ground crew; you can easily unpack, take-off, land, and re-load your PPC all by yourself.

·        It has an incredible safety record (despite the fact that mere humans are allowed to fly it).

·        And, as a true 103 ultralight – it requires no medical; there is no age limit, and no bureaucratic required paperwork (i.e., no license or registration is needed).

·        It is relatively easy to safely land should the engine fail.

·        You have ‘tons’ of options for a ‘take-off’ runway (i.e,. a Farmer’s field, a dirt-road, an aircraft carrier – all of these can work just fine)

·        You can safely land in a short field (~100 ft)

·        PPC’s are the fastest growing segment of the ultralight market

·        It is the most colorful way to ‘sail-the-skies’

·        The ability to fly ‘slow & low’ allows the pilot the gift to view and appreciate the intricacies and the beauty of the unique contours of our land.

What does it feel like – to fly a PPC?

Flying a powered parachute is the closest you may ever come to actualizing those childhood flying dreams.  It is the closest you will ever come to soaring with the eagles.  It is truly a ‘magic-carpet ride’. Another aircraft may never match the slow & low abilities of the PPC.  It is an incredibly safe and fun way to ‘sail-the-skies’!  Ok, ok, perhaps I am drifting into ‘space’ here…and so I digressed a little from the original question.  I believe the subject was “What does it feel it?”.  Well, it feels like, oh, how do you say… WONDERFUL, AMAZING, ASTONISHING, GREAT, FANTASTIC!

What is the ceiling of the PPC? (How high will it climb?)

From the factory, a typical 2-seat PPC with a 65-hp engine will normally obtain around 15,000 feet with just an average size pilot, and around 11,000 feet with two occupants.  As of September 2001, the altitude record was over 17,600 feet - by Bud Gish over Birchwood, Alaska. And as of September 2003, the new record is over 20,000 – via Ed Neff in a factory Powrachute Pegasus over the heartlands of America.

Can I train myself?

Since there is considerably more to flying a PPC, than moving an altitude control, or pushing a steering bar – I would have to say “NO” for safety’s sake!  And honestly, anyone that says that they can safely complete your training in a day – is not giving you the complete picture; too much information would have to be skipped - go elsewhere for your training!  [Note: Do not confuse flying your first successful solo flight with being trained.  There are lots and lots of “Murphy’s Law” situations – hundreds of “slings & arrows of outrageous misfortunes” out there that you will NOT be prepared to handle without proper training!]

The saying goes: “You can pay now for training, or you can pay later for repairs”.


Sure people have trained themselves in the past (I am one of them).  However, I would bet ya that these people wished – strongly wished – that they would have had the training materials – books, NAPPF seminars, videos (like the newly released video magazine “Flying 101”) that are available today, to study, to research, before they paid the price of self-taught aviation!

What kind of license do I need to fly a Powered Parachutes?

This is going to have to be a 2-part answer: one part for true single-seat 103 PPC’s and one for the 2-seat trainers, the FAT, the non-103 legal PPC’s.


Relative to legal FAR 103 PPC’s:  No license or registration is needed.
HEY – this sounds good!  No medical, no certifications – “YEA-HA FREEDOM!”
[Note: a true 103 ultralight will weigh under 254 lbs, have a single seat, fuel capacity that does not exceed 5 gallons, go slower than 55 knots (63 mph) and have a stall speed less than 24 knots.]


Relative to a 2-seat trainer, the non-103 legal PPC’s: You will be able to fly under your Instructors Exemption at the completion of training (for a maximum of 90-days).  You will however need to obtain a Waiver (i.e., become a BFI (Basic Flight Instructor or equivalent- UFI) in order to have anyone other than a current PPC Instructor in the rear seat.  To become a BFI/UFI, you will need to:

1.      Have 25 hours of flight time in a PPC, then…
[Please note that some of the FAA approved associations, may require 40 hours, as opposed to the 25 hours.
Also, remember that as a student pilot, you can fly the 2-seat trainer under your Instructor’s exemption (exemptions will be explained later) as you work toward your 25/40 hours of flight time.]

2.      Spend 10 to 15 hours with a current BFI/AFI (UFI/UFIE) to cover Ground and Flight tasks associated to a 2-seat trainer.  Please note that usually a minimum of 3 to 5 of these 10 or 15 hours needs to be in the air, with the Instructor in the rear seat. 

3.      Take a couple of written tests:

·        A practical BFI exam, and

·        A FOI (Fundamentals of Instruction) exam

4.      Pass the tests

5.      Take a practical flight exam

6.      Have your Instructor endorse you for your own exemption (waiver for a 103 2-seat trainer).

7.      Become a member of the ASC, EAA or USUA, and…

8.      Send in your:

·        Application and

·        Signed contract

·        Along with the written endorsement of your Instructors,

·        Dues for your membership & certification (usually around $110 - 150 per year). 

How fast does the PPC fly?

The weight of the unit and the occupants, along with the drag of the chute determines the air speed of the PPC.  On average under a typical rectangle wing, a single-seat PPC will cruise around 26 mph and a loaded 2-seat machine around 32 mph.

What winds can a Powered Parachute safely fly in?

You should never fly in winds that exceed your flight skills – whether this is 2-mph or 10-mph.  And, it is generally recommended that all PPC pilots should avoid flying in winds above 15 mph – remember the average PPC only has an air speed of 26-32 mph.

Do I need to own a plane, before I take lessons?

NO.  Most full-time training centers will have PPC’s that you can use or rent for training.  Actually, I recommend that you take lessons in the PPC’s of the training center or a rental before purchasing a PPC.  This way, you can learn the pluses and minuses of each PPC design before making a purchase.
As a side note: Be cautious of Instructors that will not train you in their PPC.  If they are not confident enough to use their personal PPC to train you, then perhaps they are not competent instructors.


What makes the powered parachute so safe & stable?

The sound principles of flying a machine in a pendulum configuration are what contribute to the safe and stable facets of the PPC.

How long can it fly on one tank of gas?

Due to various flying techniques we can obviously only deal with averages here, but easy to say that the single seat, true 103 PPC can stay airborne a little over an hour with 5 gallons of gas, and the 2-seat trainer, over 2 hours with 10 gallons of gas.  So again, depending on how you fly, you will burn around 4 to 7 gals per hour on average in a PPC.  According to the Rotax manual, a 503 will use 6.6 gal/hr during full take-off performance and 4 gal/hr at 75% throttle; 582 will use 7 gal/hr during full take-off performance and 5.4 gal/hr at 75% throttle.  (Please note that all ‘gal’ refer to U.S.A. gallons.) 

What is the maximum weight you can carry?

There are a few factors that come into play when considering this answer.

·        The strength of the PPC frame

·        The size and condition (strength & porosity) of the wing

·        The quality of the wheel bearings

·        The HP of the engine

·        The length of the runway

·        The density altitude

Ordinarily however, I will venture to say that around 450-500 lbs of payload is workable for a 2-seat trainer with a conventional rectangular, 500 sq-ft wing.

How much room do you need for take-off and landing?

Again, weight, wind and weather (density altitude) come into play here.  But for two people, you will need about 500 to 1000 feet for take-off and around 50-100 to comfortably come to a full stop after landing.

Are balistic or emergency parachutes used on PPC’s?

Not normally – there may be a rare exception to this however due to the personality, ground terrain and experience ranges of humans.  When you have an aircraft with the safely record of the PPC, it is extraordinarily difficult to find one with an emergency chute.  I have never seen one attached, but I have heard of people saying they have. On the other hand – can too much safety equipment be used in aviation?  (Be careful, there is not a clear ‘black & white’ answer here!  Perhaps this could be a subject for another article.)

Are PPC’s useful in aiding Search & Rescue operations?

The PPC is so ‘right’, so usefulness when it comes to search & rescue operations, that sometimes, the Civil Air Patrol will get a little jealous about the PPC.  Except for getting to the ‘lost’ sight quickly, I personally and strongly believe there is no better ultralight aircraft than the powered parachute for aiding in the search of the lost.  (Hec, you could find a lost rabbit with a PPC!  As a member of the county’s S&R squad – my PPC is constantly being called into - very rewarding – use.  Please visit the website: http://www.ellass.org for more information about using your powered parachute to assist Search & Rescue organizations)

Can you fly at night?

No, you cannot fly at night without a waiver from the FAA.  However, if you have a qualifying strobe light, you are allowed to fly thirty minutes before official sunrise and thirty minutes after official sunset in UNCONTROLLED airspace.

What are the age limits of a PPC pilot?

For a legal FAR-103 ultralight, there is no age limit; for the 2-seat trainer, the Exemption of the issuing organization will state the minimum age.  Currently, for most 2-Seat Training Exemptions, the pilot must be at least 16 years old before starting solo training, and 18 before they can be given an Exemption.

Is a medical required to fly the PPC?

No.  Currently there are no medical certification requirements to fly a PPC.  However, in the near future (perhaps for Sport Pilot) the FAA may require a State Driver’s license, as proof of a minimal medical condition of the pilot.

Can I fly in or over a National Park?

There has always been confusion over this question.  Except for hazardous areas like the Grand Canyon, the FAA has no penalty restrictions on the air space over National Parks – it is however STRONGLY requested that you maintain a minimum of 2000 feet AGL (Above the Ground Level) when over a National Park.  However, the Park Service will probably severely ticket (and yell) at you for violating Noise & Disturbance laws, if you fly too low!  I would definitely talk to a Park Ranger, before attempting to fly in or near a National or State Park.  Many times we have been given the privilege to fly in otherwise ‘forbidden areas’ for helping with the Park’s Search & Rescue efforts.  And many times the Rangers would really like (and do) take advantage of an opportunity to see ‘their’ park from the air – during an Introductory TRAINING flight of course!


If a 2-seat PPC is:“To be used for training purposes only”, can it ever be flown just for fun?

NO !  And damn-it, if I see you smiling and having fun while flying a 2-seater under the exemption – you WILL BE ‘tarred & feathered’!

There are times (beyond training) that a 2-seat PPC is legal to fly.  The following exceptions to training are common to most 2-seat Exemptions:

·        To transport or ferry the unit to the student

·        To acquire flight skills – such as when a student is acquiring their hours to qualify for the BFI requirements.

·        To check-out mechanical conditions of the PPC (especially for the maiden voyage, and to verify other mechanical services)

·        To maintain Currency

·        To maintain Proficiency
(Note: It is for proficiency that allows competitions of 2-seat PPC’s.)

Do I have to be a ‘mechanical’ type, to maintain my PPC?

No, if you can change the plugs and change the gear oil (i.e., chew gum and hold a screwdriver at the same time) you will be fine. Most PPC pilots however will send their engines to authorized repair centers for anything beyond the basics.

Are we required to register the PPC with the FAA?

You are not required to register your single seat, legal FAR-103 PPC.  But under your 2-seat training exemption, you are required to register your 2-place PPC with an association under the FAA (like ASC, EAA or USUA). 


During the December 1996 meeting of all the exemption holders, a uniform agreement that all exempt vehicles must be registered was adopted. The FAA accepted that agreement without incorporating it directly into the exemption, as long as the exemption administrators (ASC, EAA & USUA) require registration.


The requirements, of an annual or 100-hour inspection and the limitation against endorsing those under 16 for solo, were imposed at the same meeting.

What is the average ‘life’ of a PPC WING (the chute, canopy, full-time-recovery system)?

The question of how long something will last is always an interesting question - because there are always so many variables that go into the answer.  And this question is no different.  I have seen some wings fail inspection with less than 100-hours of flight time.  And I have seen wings with over 300-hours – still in very good condition.  So, the answer is: Somewhere between 100 and 800-hours, depending on the care and the length of time the wing is exposed to the UV (UltraViolet) rays of our Sun.

I see some powered parachutes have the large, really LARGE rear wheel tires.  Why do some PPC have the thinner tires?

[Preface: I am not a big fan of large or tundra tires.]

I do indeed believe that large or tundra tires help little to the functional aspect of a powered parachute with a good suspension system.  [Note however, that some PPC manufacturers actually require the larger tires as part of their suspension setup.]  Yea, they do look great; they do help in the snow and on the sandy beaches…but they…

1.      Add weight

2.      Make the PPC much harder to push

3.      Require a wider, larger trailer, and

4.      Yes, they do require more skill – especially to a new student – to safely handle a crosswind situation or an “out-of-position” wing during take-off.

Can I fly in the rain?

Perhaps this question is not in the “Top 10”, but it is still surprising how often this question is asked.   And the answer is: “YES”.  Many new PPC Pilots fear that the open cells of the ram-air wing will fill with rain, and thus send you crashing to the soggy ground below.

The next time you enviously watch a PPC flying low, take the time to notice the angle of the leading-edge open cells.  They point down.  Thus a little ‘umbrella’ is over the opening.  Also, the 1st 6-inches or so of the wing’s open cells contain fairly turbulent air, thus forming another little barrier to the rain.  Bottomline: Yes, you will get some water accumulation in the tail of your wing if you fly in a heavy rain for sometime, but it is not an emergency situation that would require you to land immediately.  You could turn your PPC around when the rain starts, and fly back to your field.  The thing that bothers me the most when it starts to rain during a PPC flight – the stinging!  Those little rain drop hurt when you fly.

Will the Flying 101 video ever be released?

[Note: The following is an absolute blatant plug…]

You-bet-cha!  The 14-hours of educational (starring Scott Hughes & Frederick Scheffel) and comedic (starring Bubba & Beaudro) powered parachute video is now available.  The format is somewhat different than initially anticipated – but much better.  Instead of being a ‘training video’ per-say, the initial 14-hours of PPC training tape are being converted into a Video Magazine.  A DVD issue of this unique PPC video magazine will be released 6 times a year.  The cost is $199 for a year’s subscription.

Each issue of the video (DVD) magazine will contain powered parachute sections on…

      Our novice (and hap-hazard) “trying to learn” students: Bubba & Beaudro

      A Student Education segment

      A PPC flying segment – to music

      An intermediate Education segment

      A Featured powered parachute (Send us video of your favorite PPC - perhaps next month it will be our featured favorite)

      And a featured PPC Innovation (Have an ideal that you would like to share - send us your video & pictures)

      Bloopers (production mis-haps, if you don’t laugh at these, Scott will consider giving you your $$$ back!)

      A Crash (most with detailed analysis)

      And when Sport Pilot is released – updates and info on this new FAA program

Also note that we welcome Sponsors for this NEW video magazine.  Current sponsors are Chute-the-Breeze, SkyTrails Ranch, Inc., and CoolFlight.com

And if you PPC pilots ‘at there’ would like to have your favorite powered parachute highlighted as an Issue Feature – please send pictures or video to Tom Janetzke (see www.CoolFlight.com ).

And if you think you or someone you know has come up with a PPC innovation – please also send us pictures – a written explanation – and/or video (also ship to Tom)

Until next time…keep preparing for the possible by maintaining a position with options and remember that the easiest way to solve a (flying) problem is by avoiding it!

Frederick Scheffel, CEO, AFI
Southwest Regional Director - NAPPF

Frederick is the author of the “PPC Guide & Training Manual” and the lead AFI of SkyTrails Ranch, Inc. – a full-time, year-round PPC training center in the beautiful color country of southern Utah.

May 04    Frederick Scheffel

CONSIDERATIONS…Yes, considerations, and a few reminders.  As PPC pilots, there are a few things that I would like us to consider, things to remain aware of, to remember – as we continue to safely fly our powered parachutes.  [The following is an excerpt from the “PPC Guide & Training Manual by Frederick Scheffel”.]


I know you may have just finished the assembly of your new powered parachute, and I know you want to fly first thing in the morning – and the only thing left is to ‘Break-in’ the engine…but if you lived next door, would you want to listen to that engine for over an hour (especially at full RPM) while your favorite TV program is on? 


Please keep your distance above and beyond homes.  Even if there is just one home within 1 mile – not everyone is going to find you & your flying machine a beautiful asset to the sky.  And some homeowner’s eardrums appear to be very very sensitive!  I would recommend 2000 feet to the side and 1000 feet above any home.  (Note: 500 feet above and 500 feet to the side is usually accepted as the minimum requirement.  But from the homeowner’s perspective – this is just too close!)



A ‘Touch-n-Go’ is fun and good practice of throttle control for landings, but a Farmer might have just spent days planting a field.  And they just might not be able to find their ‘sense of humor’ when they return to find your tire tracks messing up their seeded rows!



Do NOT hold-up a runway.  When landing at an airport, be prepared to taxi.  Do your best to taxi to a locale that would allow your chute to fall in an area that does not interfere with the normal procedures of other aircraft – whether they be General Aviation (GA) or other ultralights.


On Take-off preparations, consider laying out your chute outside of the runway, or better yet, outside of a taxiway – perhaps on the nearby grass, and then kite and taxi your chute to the runway, whenever possible.


Please have an aviation radio.  Please let the other aircraft know your location & intentions when arriving or departing an airport (or ultralight park).  And of course, always let other aircraft know when you are clear of the runway.  Also, even though you may not have taken-off from the airport, and even though you may have no plans on landing there – please, when you fly within 5 miles of an airport (whether controlled or not) and you climb higher than 500 feet – please advise the local air traffic of your location & intentions. 



Yes, the pond is beautiful, and yes it would be great to fly with the ducks and geese, but many local citizens do not appreciate your flying over the pond and intentionally or unintentionally causing the waterfowl to fly away!


And yes, it is great to spot a deer in the wood and fields.  And it would be fantastic to fly down for a closer look of nature’s beautiful creatures.  But you need to be respectful of the wildlife.  [Note: Whether coyotes deserve the same respect is still under debate.] And from the law’s point of view… well many Game Wardens consider it to be wildlife harassment (a chargeable offense) when you make multiple “low-passes” over wildlife, even for just a closer view, or a few pictures of the animals!


And now please don’t bring up the following argument:

“So, it is OK to kill the animals during hunting-season – that’s not harassment, but I can’t fly over them for an observational view – because it makes them run! That makes no sense!  Sure I know that there are PPC idiots that run the wildlife (deer or elk to be more exact) to exhaustion.  But that is not me, I just want to see them.  And it must be obvious that I am not running the animals into the ground!”

 Well, that may be true.  But how is the Game Warden to know everyone’s intentions?  The Game Warden gets to subjectively draw the line, relative to your flying actions, between harassment and observation!  And then you have to prove otherwise. And if you fall on the wrong side of that line - he confiscates your PPC!  It is sort of like taxes and the IRS – you are guilty until you prove your innocents.


And while we are on this subject, you should also be aware that it is illegal within a day of the hunt (in most States), to spot wildlife for hunting reports.  If a hunter wants to hunt, let them do it – from the beginning to the end, without the tremendous advantage of knowing exactly where the animals are located.  So get it out of your head right now, that you are going to make a legal-living leading hunting parties with your ultralight!



Your fellow PPC pilots

Please be aware that your actions do not just reflect on you and your powered parachute.  Observers normally group all PPC craft and their pilots into one category.  So, when you violate a law, or irritate a homeowner, you are causing problems and creating a negative image for all PPC pilots.  Hence, do more than just stay within the local regulations, and well within the broad confines of FAR 103.  Please - do everything possible to maintain good relations with your community.


Peer Pressure

Not everyone will have the will power to hold-strong to their Flight Code standards. [Note: We will talk about Flight Codes in a later article.]  So please, do not pressure your friends to go flying when their experience and training has not taken them to a skill level that allows them to handle the current or forecast flying conditions.  Yes, we know you want company on your flight.  And yes, eventually all pilots will need to improve on their flight skills to handle the flying conditions that you are now comfortable with – but let them challenge themselves on their time and in their space.  They may or may not decide to advance their flying skills to your level. 


If your friends are not comfortable flying in the current conditions, and they decide not to fly now, congratulate them on their stand – don’t tempt them into a flying situation that may come back to haunt you the rest of your life!


Peer pressure can be an extremely strong motive to force someone to fly in conditions that they simply are not ready to fly in.  If they are pushed to far, to fast - then they are not safe to fly in the questionable weather condition and they will not be safe, just because you are close by – you will not be holding their hand!


The Sun

The Sun is usually a problem. The ultraviolet rays of the sun are public enemy #1 when it comes to destroying the structure of the canopy material.  Both porosity and strength will be lost via the sun’s constant ultraviolet rays.  So don’t leave your chute lay – spread out – absorbing these harmful rays while you ‘chit-chat’ with your friends.  Take the time to bag your chute, or at the very least, bundle your canopy into a small ball while you consider the possibility of the next flight (or gab about the answers to the universe).


Another Sun liability: Your skin.  Don’t forget to protect your skin with a sunscreen (recommend 45-spf or higher).  Remember, two factors: the higher you fly and the longer you fly, both directly correlate to the sun’s damage to your skin. And don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip gloss (like Chap Stick). 


However, the Sun can be used as an asset:  Placing the canopy between you and the sun while you are flying is a great way to inspect your wing.  You can immediately spot most defects in the material of the canopy when the sun is behind it; regardless of what side of the wing the defect is located.



When you attend a fly-in, remember that you are a guest.  Your behavior at these events affects the attitude of the local community about powered parachutes.  After the event, while you are back home watching TV, the local PPC pilots that sponsored the event have to continue to deal with your actions while you were at their ‘home-turf’.  The City Officials that heard of your illegal ‘mid-night’ flight; the farmers whose homes you ‘buzzed’; the spectators (and possible clients) that witnessed your unsafe flying shenanigans and overheard your rumors, these people are all going to negatively affect the reputation and freedoms of the local PPC pilots you left behind.  So please be considerate.


Most PPC events are put together by local Dealers.  Some of these dealers make their sole livelihood by selling and training-on powered parachutes – this is not a part-time job (hobby) for them.  There is a considerable amount of time and money that goes into producing some of the powered parachute events.  Sure these dealers do have the event so that we can have fun, camaraderie, and advance our PPC education.  But they also generate the event as marketing tool.  These dealers need to make a return on their time and investment – so please, do not try and take advantage of the hype & excitement of the spectators and steal a local sale. Consideration of the local dealer’s welfare should also be part of your business ethics – not to mention common courtesy - while attending the event. 



Are you the type of personality that is going to push the envelope on safety limits?  If so, after you take even ONE small step over the recommended Safety Limit - what is next?  Will two steps be enough for you?  Were will it stop?  Will you be signing the PPC incident database report?


Do the spectators, and of course your pilot peers – really need to know just how “good” you are?  (Who hasn’t seen an EGO produce flying complications?)   Why do you need an audience to prove yourself?  Isn’t it enough that you know what you can do?  For who are you performing the experimental flight maneuver that pushes the edge of the envelope?  Why do these people – the spectators - need to be impressed by you – are you that important?  How is your risky action going to help anyone?  When one considers these things – isn’t your silly stunt really just narcissistic and ineffective – to say the least - in helping the PPC community?


[Note: If you want to pursue new, unique flight techniques, then do so on your own time, in your own space.  And do so in order to advance the sport and to establish solid safe, well-grounded techniques.  Then perhaps your practiced & reputable flight routines can be enjoyed by most at the next controlled Air Show.]


Related word of advice: Long hour pilots have learned to lean to the conservative & safety side! 

Until next time…keep preparing for the possible by maintaining a position with options and remember that the easiest way to solve a (flying) problem is by avoiding it!

Frederick Scheffel, CEO, AFI
Southwest Regional Director - NAPPF

March 04  Frederick Scheffel

Relating the “Learning to fly” experience to the real world… WITHOUT the Fundamentals of Instruction jargon and technical terminology.  What is the flight training/learning process all about…

Well, let’s see if we can break this ‘learning’ thing down a little…taking my views and advice as a Teacher-to-Student (and with a few comments as a Teacher-to-Teachers).

Learning involves:

·        Attitude

·        Plateaus

·        Modifications to current habits & routines

·        Background – your related history

·        Your view of the process & materials

·        Feedback

·        Review



You need to be where you want to be when it comes to learning new skills.  If someone is requesting or forcing you to learn materials that you could care-less about, then you are wasting your time.  You cannot be forced to learn – no matter how great your teacher!  [Note: This rarely ever happens when it comes to flight training.  I mean, let’s face it, most people really want to learn to fly.  However, there are those who will think they are ‘above’ the ground schooling – and they do not want to be bothered with reading & homework - they just want to know how to be the PIC and fly the aircraft.]

You need to be healthy and you need to have the aspiration to learn.  And when it comes to piloting, you need to have the desire to want more than just to learn how to fly – you have to crave every bit of information that concerns the subject: preflight checks, weather, communications, protocols, emergency procedures (“what-if” scenarios), equipment, engines and safety routines.  As long as “Murphy” lives, you will someday fly in conditions that far exceed those relatively windless, safe days of your first solo flights.  You need to crave information that will prepare you for the vast majority of ‘worst-case’ scenarios.  The best way I have found to approach a new subject is to learn enough about it that after digesting the materials, and combined with additional research outside of class – I should be able to teach the new subject at hand.  When I approach new class materials, I take the attitude that I will be teaching the same class in the near future – that way I try to anticipate the questions my imaginary students may ask, and then educate myself for the possible answers.  And when I actually do teach a flight training class – I advise my students that tomorrow one of them will be selected to re-teach a small portion of the same subject matter to the class as a review.  You may be surprised how much better they pay attention after that comment. 


Expect plateaus of learning – we all go through them.  Don’t over ‘push’ yourself.

Keep your study time per day to a maximum of 6 hours – ‘cause when you are tired, you just don’t feel like learn’in it!  When you’re tired and the ‘drive’ is gone – your effort counts for only a very little towards the learning process.

And there will be times when, even though you are well rested, it just seems like you can’t make it to the next skill level.  Now these times are when determination and persistent are the characteristics that will take you to the next beyond.  Now is the time to be patience & relax.  Your determination, your desires will move you forward when your mind and body have decided that the digestion of your current knowledge and skills are complete.

Relative to powered parachutes – I would surely advice that you let go of the technical.  The PPC is not an aircraft that flies well by instruments.  Relax.  Feel the machine…be the machine…(”nana-nana-nana” - Chevy Chase in Caddyshack – remember?).  No really, you need to fly a PPC by the “seat-of-your-pants”.  When you get to the point of really feeling the PPC – you WILL GO to the next skill level.  You won’t need to look at your altimeter to know you are climbing, you will feel your butt push just that little bit harder against the bottom of the seat.  And with just a little foot pressure on your steering bars, you will feel the crosswind push against the wing and be able to anticipate the coming swing, and adjust the drag of the wing’s tail to minimize the motion.



It is easier to teach totally new routines, then to change existing, similar routines.  For instances, if you are already a General Aviation pilot – please let me remind you that the powered parachute is a very unique aircraft.  You will be flying a pendulum. Skills that are not common manuevers in a GA aircraft will soon be routine in a PPC.  Feelings in flight (hanging in a pendulum) that are initially uncomfortable when related to a fixed-wing aircraft will become un-noticed and again routine in a PPC.  The pendulum scenario of the PPC makes it not just safer, but in some ways, quite different than the flight characteristics of a fixed wing aircraft.  In a powered parachute, the more in-tuned you are with the ‘seat-of-your-pants’ feelings, the better pilot you will become.

Then, after you are taught the new flying procedures, you need to make these new routines HABITS!  So fly often, and cement the new PPC techniques.


BACKGROUND – your related experience/history

If you have previously studied weather; if you already have an education in aerodynamics – obviously, you will be more comfortable with your ground schooling.  And certainly if you are a Painter by trade – you will more easily take to the controls of a PPC.  WHAT?  What does painting have to do with PPC piloting?  Well, let’s throw this question to the audience – ANYONE?  Any thoughts?

Well, I have found that a painter (or anyone that works often with their wrist and hand pressures) has a smoother, more even hand motion on the throttle – and it is throttle finesse that makes a superb PPC pilot.  A smooth, slow throttle motion on a PPC equals to a graceful, flowing powered parachute.



First, I must mention that your initial opinion of your instructor and his/her abilities is crucial.  If you do not trust your instructor, or you feel that their qualifications are minimal at best – your learning experience is going to be greatly hampered.  You have to trust & respect your flight instructor.

This same judging process will apply to the aircraft to be used, the condition of the training field and the training materials presented. The human (personality) chemistry between an instructor and a student will not always be there – but professionalism should always be present!  Bottomline, if you are not comfortable with your instructor, if may well be worth your time to local another.  Get references, ask about the training materials used, contact alumni of the instructor, and even ask other PPC professionals about your selected instructor.

And remember, learning any skill can become overwhelming depending on how it is presented or how hard you believe the process will be, even the fun and common skill of flying a kite!  [Just visualize for a moment – how an engineer or attorney might explain to a space alien ‘how to fly a kite’!  See.  Any process can be presented to appear complicated, and on the other side of the coin, any learning process can be made to be easily digestible.]

So as an Instructor – please take every process and break it down into simple, easy to comprehend steps. 

And as a Student – do not overwhelm yourself by thinking beyond the current lesson plan.  Concentrate on just the current lesson being taught; concentrate on the skill at hand.  Do not try and guess the next step or fear tomorrow’s lesson.  Stay with the here and now.

Additional note to Instructors…your job is not to impress your students with your flying skills.  Your job is to take every procedure, break it into its basic simple components, convey their meanings, and then perhaps just as importantly – insert a sense of humor.  Your student gains nothing by being impressed with your overwhelming skills & knowledge.  This only tends to intimidate – and intimidation does not encourage a learning atmosphere.  Instill into the new student the methods of how to keep this sport safe (and make it safer) but also make the experience of learning to fly a PPC FUN.  A little humor goes a long way in relaxing your student, and helping them reduce their fears and thus enhance their learning potential.

Additional note to the Student…more than the words of a manual or the information sheets you receive, or the comments of your instructor, EXPERIENCE is going to be the optimal learning tool.  Indeed, you will use your knowledge and the wisdom of your instructions as the bases of your PPC understanding and safety practices, but those things will only be the foundation upon which you will develop your lasting flying skills – skills that will grow only through your own safety routines and repeated experiences.



Immediate feedback to the student may be the most powerful learning tool; feedback after every written exam; feedback after every flying task.  Feedback allows the student the opportunity to effectively evaluate and correct their learning progress!   Feedback will also evoked conversation and allow other facets of the material to come to light.  And the more angles a subject is approached from, the stronger the ability of the humans of this planet to remember.



Once your flight training class is completed, your learning process should not end.  There is one more procedure the student needs to take…REVIEW.

Read, and re-read the manual (or information sheets).  Like every other human, you will probably have missed something on the first read of the information.  So give yourself the full opportunity to digest all of the contents.  With the addition of your recent class training – your review of the training materials will have a higher level of comprehension.  Give yourself this valuable learning reinforcement.  Re-read and continue your research; build upon your experiences; learn from the experiences of others; and make safe flight your highest priority!

Frederick Scheffel, CEO, AFI
Southwest Regional Director - NAPPF

February 04  Scott Hughes

As I sat down to write this article I began reflecting on my first flight in a Cessna 150 36 years ago and my first/second solo flights in a powered parachute. I was fifteen when I took my first flight in the Cessna 150. That was so cool. It seemed as long as I keep my speed above stalling, engine in the green and my nose on or around the horizon the plane would basically fly. What a great feeling, I was a bird. The other thing I recall about my early fixed wing flying was my instructor. He wanted all of his pilots to be smooth. I especially remember him slapping my knuckles if I used more than two fingers on the yoke or throttle. It seemed like he was truly possessed by a demon. His goal was to build smooth and perfect pilots. In the process he either gave me or I bought a great of information to study and read.

My instructor would fly by the numbers. On downwind I would reduce my airspeed to 85 mph. Once adjacent to the threshold (end of the runway) I would pull the throttle back to 1700 rpm. Add one notch of flaps and start my base turn while slowing down to 75 mph. I would add another notch of flaps and reduce my power to 1500 rpm. Turning final I would slow my speed to 65 mph and maybe full flaps depending on the type of landing I needed to do, i.e., short filed, soft field, etc. Then I would fly it down and hold it off until I greased the landing. If I were flying a Twin Beech Baron or a 777 I would be doing something similar with only the power, flaps and speed settings changing.

Let me digress just a little and talk about my PPC experience. I was lucky enough in 1982 to get a flight in/on one of Steve Snyder’s PPC’s that he had just developed. It was called a Paraplane. It had two twin solo engines on it with a skydiving chute for a wing. To be honest back then when I weighed 185 pounds I was pushing the upper limits of this contraption. It was a blast but I was having too much fun with my part time job skydiving for Budweiser and Coke all over the country on weekends.

It wasn’t until some 7 years ago that I decided that selling powered parachutes would be the therapeutic job I was looking for versus working in the medical industry. (Great Decision by the way) I bought 2 PPC’s so that I could become a dealer. When I went to pick up my new toys and get trained there was a slight miss communication between us. They assumed that because I had thousands of skydives, thousands of hours in fixed wing airplanes, a CFII, MEI, EIEIO and I had my first flight in a PPC in 1982 that I was already a PPC pilot… oops.

I had driven all night to pick my new toys and attend a training class. When I had arrived at the field to pick up my first 2 planes the class had already started. They began with the flying portion due to bad weather coming in. I basically watched the last two students fly and then it was my turn. I listened very intently to every word they had told the previous students. I remember giving it the gas and the chute popped up like when I used to play with my skydiving chute and away I went. I did the routine they wanted me to accomplish plus a little extra, (I’ll explain the little extra another time). The landing was uneventful and I stopped in their landing circle. I had a ball.

However later that day they discovered that I didn’t have the hours yet to qualify to become a BFI. Matter of fact I only had about a half hour before my morning flight. I went home and got 35 hours over the next 2 weeks. I flew almost every day…
a lot, and let me tell you that was a lot of fun. Two weeks later I was a BFI. However, knowing what I know now I was very lucky not to do any damage to my new toys.

In a powered parachute (PPC) it is so much different. I was at first surprise that the PPC was not nearly as responsive as a fixed wing aircraft or a skydiver’s wing. However, I did find some inherent qualities that lend itself to safety, namely the pendulum effect. The PPC would generally correct itself when hit with adverse gust of wind. What I did find was that over time I could anticipate and use the pendulum to assist me in my flying. Now after a lot of flying and practice I have come to know that the PPC can be very aerobatic and extremely precise.*See below

Lisa my wife said that I was like a kid in the candy store. I, like most of us when we get into this great sport, was like a sponge and began looking for training information and any type of resource material. Unfortunately not much was to be found. The training information that I did find at the time was very, very basic and in many cases nonexistent. Most of the information out there was written for fixed wing aircraft or from a fixed wing point of view. There was nothing like the material I had received from my fixed wing instructor. Trial and error was the standard approaches used for many students that I had talked to. I learned a lot over the next couple of years and began to develop more in-depth lesson plans and a training manual. So far we have been very lucky and haven’t had any incidences or problems during any of our 400 solo flights and 6,000+ first time introductory training flights, (knock on wood). 

This brings me to the reason for this article. I wanted to share some of the resources that I have come to use for information. I believe that the motto of NAPPF “Safety through Education” isn’t just lip service. So with no further adieux here are some of my favorite resources.


# 1 Number one source of information is, “YOUR INSTRUCTOR!!!”

That is why you want to take Fredrick’s advice from last month’s article and make sure you invest in a good one, one that knows their stuff. It’s your money… invest it wisely.

# 2 Regional Flyin’s or your clubs get together/meetings.

There are often speakers with a great deal of experience and/or a seminar to learn from. One piece of advice I would give you is to be very cautious of the “flyin land mines”. (Flyin Land mines are laid usually by someone without a lot of time and/or experience sharing their new found expertise and stating it as fact. Be sure to check back with your instructor, manufacture or other experts in the field before you do any of the following; a radical new maneuver you heard about or saw someone do, modify or tweak your engine or make modifications to your plane. Also at a flyin remember, PLEASE REMEMBER, all chutes are not interchangeable from plane to plane. Designed performance of a chute could be dramatically changed if you change A chute from one machine to another.  In fact, some might be down right dangerous to mix.

#3 Websites

bullet www.powerchutes.com   

­        Powerchutes.com is a generic site with tons of free information, classifieds and links to everything. This is by far the best place to start. It is the busiest on the web concerning PPC’s.

bullet www.nappf.org  

­        NAPPF (North American Powered Parachute Federation) is a pilots organization that is all about Safety and Education. I highly recommend joining for only $35. You get Ultraflight magazine just joining. The way I look at it all the other benefits they do are a free bonus.

Sport Pilot

bullet EAA                             www.sportpilot.org
bullet FAA                              http://www2.faa.gov/avr/afs/sportpilot/overview.cfm
bulletNAPPF                         www.nappf.org
bulletUltraflight Radio             www.ultraflightradio.com            

­        Ultraflight Radio is a weekly 2 hour long internet radio show with very interesting guest. They cover a wide scope of aviation but still have some very interesting juicy tidbit’s

Pilot Supplies

bulletLockwood Aviation
bullet Sporty’s                        www.sportys.com
bullet CPS                             www.800-airwolf.com
bullet LEAF                            www.leadingedge-aorfoils.com
bullet Wick's Aircraft Supply    www.wicksaircraft.com
bulletBear Perkins                 See ads for website
bulletCutting Edge                 See ads for website
bullet Chute the Breeze (Toys) www.flying101.com

#4 Magazines

My personal favorite is Ultraflight Magazine, but a library wouldn’t be complete if we I have EAA’s Experimenter and ASC’s Aero Sports connections or Ultralight Flying. Another good one is Kit Planes and Flying.

#5 Video/DVD

Here comes another one of those blatant plugs again. “Flying 101” is a basic instructional tape designed not to take the place of the instructor but to enhance them. It also comes with a student training manual, curriculum and tests. Several other tapes I like to watch are Color country Chute-out 2002 (Tom Janetski), the Extravaganza 2002 by (Tim Bayer), Powrachute Promo video that shows my mother in-law’s first flight ever flying around the display rockets at the NASA Ballunarfest, (Steve Palmer). “I learned the hard way about that” or better known as the “Crash Video”, edited by and starring in… several times (Scott Hughes) This one strictly a compilation of woops. I have found to be very helpful in educating students and pilots a like.    

#6 Join several organization such as;

NAPPF, USUA, EAA, ASC, local clubs, (BARF), etc.

bullet NAPPF                         www.nappf.org
bullet AOPA                           www.aopa.org
bullet EAA                             www.eaa.org
bullet USUA                           www.usua.org
bullet ASC                             www.asc.org
bullet USPPA                         www.usppa.org
bullet USHGA                          www.ushga.org

# 7 Insurance
USUA                                       www.usua.org
Just in case you weren’t aware of this, NAPPF was able to get USUA to revisit the insurance issue and it now covers PPC’s. Good job Jim Sweeney and USUA.

# 8
Weather, NOTAM & News from http://www.nappf.org

Aero-News Network

Aviation News


Weather, Graphical TFR, NOTAM


Weather, NOTAM & Aviation News


Aviation News

Dr Jack's Blip Maps



Weather & NOTAM


Aviation News

Federal Aviation Agency


Federal Aviation Agency

Graphical TFRs

FAA Flight Service Station
1 800 WXBRIEF(800 992 7433)

Weather & NOTAM


Weather & NOTAM







The Travel Forecast


The Weather Channel




US Airsports Net


Ultralight News


Weather Depot




Weather To Fly


The one I use most are Weather Underground http://www.wunderground.com and

NOAA http://www.noaa.gov .

Over the next year we will be adding to this list. Next month we will be talking about the 10 commandments of flying, plus a few. Hopefully Moses will bring us many other commandments and we will start talking about lesson plans and flight plans. Stay tuned

Scott Hughes BGS, CFII, MEI, AFI
South Central Board Member NAPPF
Chute the Breeze and Hughes Aviation
281 924 8732
* Before you try any aerobatic maneuvers get instruction from a professional instructor skilled in aerobatics. Don’t become a wind test dummy!

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Last modified: 07/23/09