My childhood was spent among people who flew on something all the time. They built, developed a new one and flew on it right there. At the age of 5 it was a discovery for me that someone in this world may not fly. By the time I was 26, I managed to try almost everything that can be flown. I want to share my experience and tell you about the available opportunities.
To start flying, you have the following options:

1. Soaring Flight

  • Paragliding
  • Hang glider
  • Glider

2. Motor flight

  • Light aircraft
  • Hang glider
  • Paratrike
  • Paramotor
  • Motor glider

The principle of soaring flight is based on the existence of ascending air currents. Like the wind, just straight up. The pilot’s task is to find such a stream of air and stay in it for a while to gain altitude and then fly to the next stream. And so in a loop.

The main advantage of vapors is fuel-free flight. Only starting energy is needed to climb the initial altitude. However, this imposes restrictions. For takeoff, you need to take the initial energy somewhere. You can take off either from a mountain, or with the help of a winch, or after another, motor, aircraft.

One of the main characteristics of any aircraft is quality. And for vapors, this is the most important characteristic. This value determines how many kilometers you can fly by dropping by 1 km. Usually, this value is from 3 to 60. Being at an altitude of 1000 meters, you can fly up to 60 km in a straight line. (in absolutely ideal conditions and at a certain speed)

Soaring stereotypes

  • It’s dangerous to fly.
    It is dangerous to cross the road in the wrong place because you could be hit by a car. And in the air, everything depends only on you.
  • In the air, you can collide with another aircraft or bird.
    This possibility exists, but its probability is so negligible that the cases of such collisions can be counted on one hand. The likelihood of a collision with another aircraft depends on the number of these vehicles around you.
  • It is very difficult to take off and land
    Yes, this is the most difficult part of the flight, but no more difficult than driving through an uncontrolled intersection in a car. However, it all depends on the aircraft you choose. For paragliders and hang gliders, this is much more difficult than for a glider.
  • You need to study for a very long time in order to start flying on your own.
    You need to study, but not more than on car courses. Even less because there are no traffic police and road signs in the air. But in order to fly away from the take-off point somewhere, you already need to study much more.
  • There is no flight without wind
    The wind has little to do with the ability to fly. The flight takes place due to vertical air currents.
  • You cannot fly long and far without a motor.
    On a plain in normal weather you can fly all day long . You can fly in the mountains forever because there are flows around the mountains. In my first flying year, in Kiev, on a glider, I once flew 6 hours a day without interruption. It could have been longer, but the strength was gone.
  • If something breaks in the air and there is no chance of escape .
    The design is so simple that there is almost nothing to break in it under normal loads. The electrical systems are auxiliary and their failure is not critical for flight. No device is vital. You can take off and land without any instruments at all. In addition, there is always a rescue parachute for emergencies.
  • This is really extreme It
    depends on what is meant by extreme. All aviation is built on flight safety and extreme minimization. If you learned to take off and immediately flew along the route, then this is not extreme, but stupidity. Listen to experienced pilots, read other pilots’ descriptions of flight accidents and do not violate the laws of aerodynamics, and you will fly safely.
  • It is very expensive
    In reality, it costs from 50 USD / month. You don’t always need to buy your own aircraft. Renting is often more profitable.

Option 1: Paragliding

Paragliding: Facts

  • Flight speed from 20 to 70 km / h.
  • Fabric construction only. Its progenitor was a parachute.
  • Pilot weight from 40 to 130 kg.
  • The weight of the paraglider with equipment is about 15 kg.
  • World record for distance (downwind) 502 km.
  • Record on a triangular route with a return to the starting point – 118 km.

Paragliding: Pros

  • The feeling of free flight when the wind is right in your face.
  • Very compact. Fits in a large backpack with which you can even travel on public transport.
  • There is no red tape with documents and medical commissions.
  • It is very spectacular and impressive.
  • You can fly unaided. I took it and flew. I landed somewhere, packed everything into a backpack, and took a minibus home.
  • It’s hard to break. You can break it.
  • Landing outside the airfield is not a problem. You can sit anywhere.

Paragliding: Cons

  • Takeoff/landing from feet. The risk of injury.
  • Wing without pipes. This means that, in theory, it could collapse in mid-air. However, it is possible to open it =)
  • Very low flight speed. Flying upwind is virtually unrealistic (except in the mountains).
  • Takeoff only from a mountain or by towing. It is impossible to take off on your own from the plain.
  • No cockpit. The higher you fly, the colder it gets.

Paragliding: Budget

  • Ride in tandem. It costs about $ 50.
  • Training takes place on small slides using club equipment from $ 50 per month.
  • You can buy a used one for $ 500-1000.
  • A sport paraglider costs about $ 2500.

Option 2: Hang glider

Hang glider: Facts

  • Flight speed from 30 to 120 km / h.
  • Triangular, made of metal pipes and fabric.
  • Length folded from 2 meters (usually folded into a 6-meter package). Weight – from 25kg.
  • Pilot weight from 40 to 130 kg.
  • World record for distance (downwind) 700 km.
  • Record on a triangular route with a return to the starting point – 357 km.

Hang glider: Pros

  • The feeling of free flight when the wind is right in your face.
  • Easily transported by car.
  • Easy to repair.
  • There is no red tape with documents and medical commissions.
  • Flying upwind is possible, but difficult.
  • Landing outside the airfield is not a problem. You can sit anywhere.
  • You can fly without the help of the club. I took it and flew. But someone has to pick you up by car if you land outside the airfield.
  • Sports hang gliders do some aerobatics.
  • Spectacular.

Hang glider: Cons

  • Takeoff/landing from feet. High risk of injury.
  • To take off, you need either a mountain or a towing vehicle. It is impossible to take off from the plain on its own.
  • Large load on the shoulders and back. Do not believe Leontyev’s song “And how easy it is for my shoulders”. He clearly never carried a hang glider on himself.
  • Training takes place almost independently only by listening to the instructor’s advice. Tandem (two-person) flights exist but are quite difficult to learn.
  • Due to the specific location of the pilot, you constantly have to strain your neck.
  • Transportation by car only. Public transport is possible but very difficult.
  • In the early years, the plaque is very small.
  • Easy to break. Most problems can be fixed by yourself, but some parts must be ordered from the manufacturer.
  • No cockpit. The higher you fly, the colder it gets.

Hang glider: Budget

  • You can go for a one-time ride in tandem. About $ 80.
  • The training takes place on club equipment. For the CIS, about $ 50 / month.
  • You can buy your own used hang glider for $ 500 -1000.
  • A sports hang glider costs about $ 4000.

Option 3: Glider

Glider: Facts

  • Metal or plastic construction. The use of fabric is minimal.
  • The most ancient of the aircraft. Any plane is nothing more than a glider with a motor.
  • Flight speed from 50 to 300 km / h.
  • Pilot weight from 50 to 130 kg.
  • The world record for a distance – 2256.9 km 3009 km.
  • Record on a triangular route with a return to the starting point – 1756 km.
  • Big planes can be gliders too. For example one and two.

Glider: Pros

  • Safe. The man is in a closed cockpit. Takeoff and landing take place on the landing gear.
  • There is no age or health restriction in this sport.
  • Available for training. There are many two-seater gliders, which are used for training. Controls are fully duplicated for both pilots.
  • A large number of clubs in the CIS, which exist thanks to equipment and personnel from the USSR.
  • Gliders twist almost all aerobatics.
  • Takeoff and landing only from an airfield or flat field. Taking off the mountain is not practiced.
  • It flies far and fast. The wind doesn’t really affect the glider’s capabilities.
  • Flight comfort. Sitting in a glider is more comfortable than in a chair.

Glider: Cons

  • All over the world, except for the CIS, it is an elite and expensive sport.
  • Landing outside the aerodrome requires a well-chosen field. Difficulty evacuating the glider in case of landing outside the airfield.
  • You can fly without club support only on a glider with a motor.
  • Spectacular nothing more than a game of chess. Those. if you understand what is happening, you can admire.
  • A lot of work or money needs to be invested in the club (airfield, club equipment)
  • In the CIS, gliding is not commercialized, therefore it exists at the expense of enthusiasts and technology from the USSR. Accordingly, the concept of “client” for those who want to learn to fly is only being formed.
  • To fly on your own you need to either get a “license” for a glider or fly in a club on club equipment and keep a bunch of documentation related to this.
  • There is a medical board.
  • The more expensive the glider is, the more difficult and expensive it is to repair it.

Glider: Budget

  • You can ride for $ 80-$ 100. Aerobatics have recently been banned on training gliders, but the past 30 years have been twisted.
  • In the CIS, training costs about $ 200 / month + work on the maintenance of the club. The more experienced the pilot, the cheaper.
    There is a concept of VIP training. For $ 500 / month, you can fly to the maximum and not be distracted by anything.
  • You can buy a used training, double glider for $ 4,000 -8,000.
  • A used sports glider without a motor costs from $ 10,000.
  • A glider with a motor costs from $ 30,000 to $ 400,000.

Soaring Flight: Conclusions

All presented aircraft are completely weather dependent. It is difficult to fly from point A to B. There is always a risk of landing somewhere in the middle. It is a hobby that allows you to experience the taste of free flight and see the ground from above. Soaring flights cannot get boring – this is a non-standard task every time.
If you want to fly safely, high and comfortably, choose a glider.
Do you want extreme and wind in person – hang glider or paraglider.
In any case, you can try everything.


A safe flight is following the rules that are written in books on the organization of flights and taking responsibility for your actions. If you learn to fly without reading books, without studying the principles of aerodynamics and meteorology, then you will fly at random. And someday you won’t get lucky. You can fly safely in any aircraft if you follow the flight and pre-flight instructions. On a paraglider, the easiest way is to break these rules. there is an illusory simplicity of control and most often the principles of flight organization are violated. On gliders, you will not be allowed to start flying on your own until you have a guaranteed minimum of knowledge, which will be backed up by test flights with an instructor.

Paragliding and hang gliding, as a hobby of the day off – an occupation quite safe and budgetary for the middle class. However, injuries do occur during the learning phase. As a sport, these are extreme sports. This is very dangerous, and only for those who are ready for it.

Gliding is not an extreme sport. Injury – football while waiting for the weather.
Flight accidents – are, were, and will be as well as non-calculated situations in flight. But this is still commensurate with the likelihood of a car accident.

But daily 12 hours of sitting at the computer is guaranteed to lead to irreversible injuries of the cardiovascular system. They are not visible for the time being, and then, as a rule, “it’s too late to drink Borjomi”.

Option 4: Plane

Aviation began with these aircraft. The Wright brothers’ plane falls into this category. It is essentially an air vehicle. You can fly over houses or gain a kilometer in height and look down at the ground. Complete freedom of action! Flying in a small plane is not at all like flying as a passenger in a large one.

Plane: Facts

  • The weight of an empty plane is from 80kg to 300kg.
  • Speed ​​from 50km / h to 220km / h.
  • The price of the new one is $ 40,000.
  • Takeoff from water, snow, or ground. Takeoff distance is about 150m. Less is possible.
  • Usually, 300m is enough for landing. 20m is enough for masters.
  • A parachute for the entire aircraft is used as a rescue system. 
  • Consumption of A-95 gasoline is about 9l / 100km * (in the absence of wind).
    For distances within the limits of the fuel supply, a flight by plane can be cheaper than by car. the flight takes place in a straight line and with a similar car consumption.

* – in aviation, fuel consumption is not measured per 100 km. Everything is measured in hours of engine operation at different power levels. The figure shown is the average value.

Plane: Pros

  • This is really an airplane. I took it and flew where I needed it. The dependence on the weather is minimal. You can fly over the clouds.
  • The design of production aircraft has been worked out, there is a lot of information on the Internet. 
  • Depending on the engine, the aircraft can gain up to 6000m. Above 4000m, a person needs oxygen equipment.
  • The plane can steer itself on the ground. This is very convenient, but you should always consider the presence of wings because they are easy to hook into something.
  • With proper preparation, you can travel across continents and even between them.
  • You can buy a KIT-set (constructor) and assemble it yourself.
  • Some are good at aerobatics. 

Plane: Cons

  • This is a full-fledged aircraft, which means that it requires documents (which must be regularly renewed) and a pilot’s certificate.
  • Although the plane can technically fly up to 6000m, in practice in the CIS it is possible to fly only up to 900-1500m. Above – you need to agree. The legislation differs from country to country.
  • When flying along a route, you must have a working radio communication and communicate with dispatchers, which requires specific skills.

Plane: Medical requirements

In Europe, even a disabled person can fly a plane, while in the CIS it is required to pass a real medical examination.
But there is a saying: only the greedy or the dead do not pass the medical examination. So this is not an insurmountable problem. The situation is slowly improving, and European standards are coming to our world.

Option 5: Hang glider (hang glider)

If we draw the analogy airplane = car, then hang glider = motorcycle.
There is also a completely new trend nanoTrike – almost a stool with a motor
Continuing the analogy, this is an air moped.

Hang glider: Facts

  • It consists of two parts: a hang glider (wing) and a trolley with a motor. Some hang gliders are so versatile that they can be used for both power and hover flight.
  • Instead of wheels, floats for taking off from the water or skis for snow can be installed.
  • It is often used for aviation chemical works.
  • The cockpit is usually open.
  • Empty weight from 100kg to 300kg.
  • Speed ​​from 50km / h to 150km / h
  • There are 1,2 and 3-seater.
  • New price from $ 20,000 to $ 100,000

Hang glider: Pros

  • Sufficiently versatile and compact for storage.
  • This is almost a complete transport.
  • More intuitive to fly than an airplane. close to the bike.
  • The feeling of flight is more vivid as no cockpit.
  • You can jump from it with a parachute.
  • There are special flight schools where you can learn to fly according to specially designed programs.
  • All units are easily accessible for service and repair.
  • He can steer himself on the ground.

Hang glider: Cons

  • “The wind in your mug and I’m sparring” – this is about a motor hang-glider. Flying without a closed helmet is not very comfortable, especially in winter. And with it, visibility and impressions are sharply reduced. There are perverts.
  • The flight is not as comfortable as on the plane.
  • You need to fly in overalls, because even if it is hot on the ground, it will be cold from the oncoming stream, and the higher, the colder it gets. And it’s hot on the ground in overalls.
  • Inverse control. For many pilots, this is not very convenient, because back to the plane.
  • More susceptible to air currents. A strong gust of wind or an updraft can knock the control stick out of your hands.  
  • It takes physical effort to fly in a straight line.
  • In the event of landing/falling in the forest, nothing protects you. An example.

Option 6: Paramotor

This is the implementation of Carlson’s idea. Put the engine on your back and use the paraglider to fly. Great weekend hobby.

Paramotor: Facts

  • Engine weight from 7kg to 20kg.
  • Flight speed from 20 km / h to 60 km / h
  • They are practically not used as transport.
  • Usually single. But tandem flights are practiced.
  • A parachute is used as a rescue system. 
  • The cost of the new order is $6,000.

Paramotor: Pros

  • If you have learned to fly a paraglider, it is not difficult to learn to fly a paramotor, and the horizons of flight expand significantly.
  • Low fuel consumption.
  • The feeling of flying is more natural because no cockpit.
  • Low takeoff and landing speed.
  • Compact.

Paramotor: Cons

  • Learning takes place only by listening to the instructor on the ground. Nobody can fix mistakes for you.
  • There are no pilot training methods. Active pilots are trained according to their individual programs.
  • If the engine fails in the air, you have neither aerodynamic quality nor speed reserve. Landing in front of you.
  • Takeoff and landing from feet. The risk of injury.
  • A comfortable takeoff requires wind.
  • The wing can collapse in mid-air.
  • You need to have sufficient physical strength to take off and land with the engine behind your back.
  • It is difficult to call it transport. Rather entertainment.

Option 7: Paratrike (Aerochute)

It is a mixture of a hang glider and a paraglider. Those. they took a very large paraglider, a trolley from a motorized hang-glider, remade it, connected it to the paraglider – and such a miracle happened.

Paratrike: Facts

  • Empty weight from 60kg to 150kg
  • There are 1,2 and 3-seater.
  • Speed ​​from 25km / h to 60km / h
  • Instead of wheels, skis can be installed.
  • The cost of the new order is $ 9000.

Paratrike: Pros

  • Low takeoff and landing speed.
  • The crew is inside a rigid frame.
  • A natural sense of flight.
  • It is convenient to take off in calm weather.
  • Unlike a paramotor, the probability of wing collapse is lower.
  • It is the cheapest to ride two people.
  • The compactness of transportation.
  • Due to its very smooth flight, it is often filmed from the air.
  • You can fly over the clouds.

Paratrike: Cons

  • If it does collapse in the water, it can be difficult to deploy it.
  • There are no schools that have developed curricula. You can only learn from existing pilots who will teach at their own discretion.
  • Himself almost cannot move on the ground.

Option 7: Motor glider

A motor glider can be roughly divided:
  • With a non-retractable engine. This is actually an airplane and everything that is written above is relevant for it.
  • Retractable engine. But this is a real glider!
Engines are:
  • Internal combustion.
  • Electric motor.
  • Jet engine. Or cooler.

Motor glider: Pros

  • It’s a glider and has motor insurance. The other pluses are not important.

Motor glider: Cons

  • There are only 1 and 2 seaters.
  • Modern ones are very expensive.
  • Small motor resource (how many hours the engine can work).
  • The feeling of having an engine can push the glider pilot into a situation where only the engine can save him. And if it doesn’t start, there will be problems.

The article does not consider the Autogyro, because I have little experience with him.

Motor flight: Conclusions

The main thing: if you want to learn to fly safely – start with a soaring flight.

  • An airplane is an air vehicle. It can fly from point A to B.
  • A hang glider is a motorcycle or moped.
  • Paratrike is fun. Long-distance flights on it are rare.
  • A paramotor is an opportunity to feel like a Carlson and fly to the baby in the sky as cheaply as possible.
  • A motor glider is flying on a glider without a towing vehicle and with insurance.

The number of myths and stereotypes about aviation is extremely large. An attempt was made to dispel some of them. And in conclusion, one more point.

If you think that flying is a pleasure for the rich, you are wrong.
There are options even for those whose income levels will not allow them to fly on a commercial basis.

Regardless of the financial situation, the first thing to do is to COME TO THE AERODROME. Take an introductory flight (of course, paid). In the process, you will not only understand how interesting it is to you but also acquire your first aviation acquaintances. The best option would be to try not only an airplane but also a glider – these are two different worlds and concepts.

Returning to the option when there is no money: you can fly (including study) if you do some work at the airfield. This job is often unskilled (dig something or build), but you want to fly, right? Vacancies and announcements about such are not posted at the entrance to the airfield, but you can learn about them in a private conversation. That’s what you need to know at the airfield.

Another point of application of your strength, as well as a way to get acquainted with the world of aviation, is volunteering by profession. As, developers, designers, artists, OS administrators, electronics engineers, and so on.

Airfields, aviation training centers, aviation sports federations, as well as other “terrestrial” structures, require websites, graphics, and other IT-help. Also, teams of aviation restorers need help, among which there are teams that lift historical vehicles into the sky.


I started Paramotor.Guide to share everything I know about this amazing sport. This site has now become the top resource for pilots all around the world. I started flying light aircraft back in 2004, and I’ve been paramotoring at every opportunity since the start of 2013.

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