PPG training details & tuition schedule

Foot-launched instruction

Early training is done via pay-in towing without a paramotor.  Pilots must first learn how to fly a paraglider.  The paramotor is added later.  Towing has important advantages over training from a hill:

  1. Pilots have more time in the air for each flight because they begin their flights (after the tow up) much higher than at a training hill.
  2. Pilots can repeat flights in much less time because they launch from the same place they land and do not have to wait around for a ride back to launch.
  3. Training is safer because the launch routine (when the pilot's feet are still on, or near, the ground) can be stopped immediately and completely, something that can be difficult or impossible at a training hill.
  4. Task saturation is less and overall comfort of the student pilot is much greater.  It may be daunting for someone who has never flown to launch from a hill or cliff.  Nonetheless, as soon as the pilot is able, he will begin flying with a paramotor.  This is done from tow with the engine off and, once at altitude, the it is started.
  5. New students can learn and practice maneuvers that are impossible or risky at a training hill such as spiral dives, big ears, cravat clearing, deep asymmetric and symmetric deflations, and crosswind launches.
  6. From launching to landing the student pilot is always close to the instructor and his watchful eye.  The net result is that risk is substantially lessened.  Students will have better, faster, and more thorough training, overall.
  7. The only downside of towing is that it costs more because of the need for more personnel and equipment to train the pilot, a small price to pay for the advantages of a safer flying environment.

As the pilot progresses through the PPG2 course, both he and the instructor will work together to make the best decision on overall equipment needs.

Here is a professionally made video by David Guerin of a typical PPG launch, flight, and landing.  Here are the details on the USPPA ratings and requirements.

Wheeled powered paragliding instruction

It is much the same as foot-launched instruction, including pulling wheeled vehicles into the air with the engine off (see #4 above).  Item #5 above does not generally apply to the extent that it does for foot-launched flying.  There is no PPG1 training for wheeled PPG.  All wheeled PPG students must purchase their equipment and begin with the PPG2 Novice certification package.

Tandem training flights – no charge

A foot-launched tandem training flight is one way for someone to get an introduction to paragliding, either free or powered.  Please see our tandem operations page for more information.  The weight limit for persons wanting to fly tandem is 190 lb, not 200 lb as mentioned in the physical and mental requirements section.

PPG1 Beginner package $350 2-3 days (foot-launched only)


PPG1 basic training is the same as PG-1 training.  Our PPG1 program does not include any training with the paramotor.  Why is this?  The pilot, for any reason, may want to complete this introduction if he has doubts whether he can safely fly a paraglider.  Adding a paramotor will not help and why we make this introduction available.  PPG1 rating requirements (see page 2).  The vast majority of students have no need to take advantage of this introductory lesson.

PPG2 Novice certification package $1,500 7-10 days

Type of training requested

The discounted tuition package of $1,500 is only for new students who purchase their basic equipment package from Southwest Airsports.  Others will be charged on a per day basis*.  A minimum tuition payment of (1) day is required of pilots training on a per day basis.  Maximum tuition for the PPG2 course is $2,450.  After you pay your tuition, please contact us to purchase your flying equipment.  It is so much fun to learn how to fly safely!

PPG2 rating requirements (see pages 3-4)

This is the recommended course to begin your flying career as an independent pilot.  The time needed to train varies depending on the weather, student availability, and/or student ability.  Master the fundamentals of flight in a powered paraglider foot-launched or trike/quad.  This course includes training for both the PPG1 and PPG2 certifications by a USPPA certified instructor.  Training includes learning how to setup for landing in a specific area, increasing flying skills generally, covering the terminology, operation and preflight of the motor unit.  Upon completion of this course, students are ready for extended paramotoring flights with their own powered paraglider. This is the minimum certification level that allows PPG pilots to fly without the direct supervision of an instructor.  Those who have already completed the PPG1 training at Southwest Airsports will get a credit towards their PPG2 tuition equal to their paid PPG1 tuition.

If you are considering any PPG certification, purchase the DVD Risk and Reward and watch it many times.  It will give you a clear presentation of what foot-launched PPG is all about.  It is also relevant for those considering trike/quad PPG.  Unlike the textbook, this DVD is optional but highly recommended if you want to increase your knowledge on how to fly safely and keep from damaging your equipment.

We look forward to training you how to safely fly a paramotor!

Students will:

Training Includes:

* Students who are already USPPA rated members and started paragliding programs elsewhere or have a paragliding background pay $350 a day when working with Southwest Airsports toward completing their Novice certification program.  The amount of days required for each individual student to achieve Novice certification is at the sole discretion of Southwest Airsports.  Note: training for the same rating varies widely from school to school (especially from non-PASA schools) and it's impossible for us to guess what the student pilot did or did not learn until we see him fly for a bit.

PPG3 Intermediate training $200/day (no charge for our PPG2 graduates)


The time needed to train varies depending on the weather, student availability, and/or student ability.  Pilots training for PPG3 must be able to successfully complete a cross-country trip.  Payment of tuition of (1) day is required in order to schedule training. 

PPG3 rating requirements (see pages 5-6)

Crossover training (PPG to PG) $200/day (no charge for our PPG2 graduates)


The time needed to train varies depending on the weather, student availability, and student ability.  Payment of tuition of (1) day is required in order to schedule training.  Note: crossover training usually takes more than a single day, especially if the pilot trained elsewhere or is uncertified by either the USPPA or USHPA.

Tow training or Tow Tech training $350/day

type of training desired

This is the USPHA required training to be towed up by a winch or to become qualified to operate a surface tow (ST) winch for recreational towing (Tow Tech 1) or towing for compensation (Tow Tech 2).

For Tow Tech 1, these skills include demonstrating 5 or more tows, a minimum of two flights as the pilot under tow (solo or tandem), and the use of placarded written checklists for every flight.  For Tow Tech 2, the skills include demonstrating risk management, normal and emergency operations, and operations with students, experienced pilots, and tandem flights. Note: At our discretion (the Towing Observer), video footage may be submitted to meet these requirement.  For more details on this training, please read the towing program material from USHPA.

Payment of tuition of (1) day is required in order to schedule training.

Additional Notes

All PPG pilots need to be aware that a paramotor can quit at any time.

Kiting skills are essential for pilot safety.  It is one of the most important skills a pilot can learn that will dramatically reduce the risks of this sport.

Below, a new PPG pilot readies himself to be towed up with his paramotor attached (but not running).  This technique helps prevent task saturation, a very common problem for all new pilots.  photo by Guillermo Vargas

powered paraglider pilot prepares to be towed up during training