Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Chapter 5 — Preflight and Ground Operations

Where to Fly

The powered parachute can be transported by trailer from one flying field to the next. For as many benefits as this provides, transporting the powered parachute into unfamiliar territory also includes some safety and operational issues.

Make contact with the airport management to inquire about any special arrangements that may need to be made prior to departing from an unfamiliar airport. Check the Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD) for traffic pattern information, no fly zones surrounding the airport, and special accommodations that may need to be arranged.

Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91 states that powered parachutes are to avoid the flow of all other air traffic. In addition, you should inform local pilots about some of the incidentals of powered parachute flight (such as flying low and slow); the more information that other category pilots know about PPC flight characteristics, the more they will understand the specific needs of the powered parachute in flight. Sharing the same airspace with various aircraft categories requires pilots to know and understand the rules, and understand the flight characteristics and performance limitations of the different aircraft.

The ideal departure area for a powered parachute is an open grassy area clear of debris and obstacles with a groomed, even surface. Concrete and asphalt surfaces should be avoided, as well as lit runways, as the structural integrity of the wing and suspension lines may be compromised during takeoffs and landings if the wing catches on the runway surface or surrounding lighting.

Powered parachutes do not normally take off where the rest of the airport traffic takes off. This is to help both the PPC pilot and the pilots of other aircraft. A powered parachute requires time to set up and depart; it is not polite or safe to tie up an active runway while this is being done. Exceptions to this would be the edge of a very wide runway or an undeveloped area next to the active runway where setup can take place well away from the centerline of that active runway.

Another reason PPC pilots typically don’t use standard runways is that you want to set up into the wind to avoid a crosswind takeoff. While slight crosswind takeoffs are possible, they are usually unnecessary due to the short-field capabilities of a powered parachute. You should do your best to point the machine into the wind before you lay out the wing.

Extend consideration to land owners that may own a flight strip in their field. You need permission to use private property as an airstrip. Locate the area on an aeronautical sectional chart to check for possible airspace violations or unusual hazards that could arise by not knowing the terrain or location. Avoid loitering around residential structures and animal enclosures because of the slow flight attributes of the powered parachute and the distinct engine noise.

While selecting a takeoff position, make certain the approach and takeoff paths are clear of other aircraft, or will be clear by the time the equipment is set up. Fences, power lines, trees, buildings, and other obstacles should not be in the immediate flightpath unless you are certain you will be able to safely take off and clear them during takeoff and climbout.

Walk the entire length of the intended takeoff and landing area prior to departure. Look for holes, muddy spots, rocks, dips in the terrain, high grass, and other objects that can cause the aircraft to be damaged or the wing to snag during takeoff and landing. Physically mark areas of concern with paint, flags, or cones; a pothole may not look like a pothole from the air.

There are a number of preflight actions you must perform, mandated by 14 CFR part 91. You must become familiar with all available information concerning your flight, to include runway lengths at airport of intended use, takeoff and landing distance accounting for airport elevation and runway slope, aircraft gross weight, wind, and temperature. For a flight not in the vicinity of a conventional airport, this information must include weather reports and forecasts, fuel requirements, and alternatives available if the planned flight cannot be completed.

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