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If Only It Were True: Dual Instruction in Wheeled PPGs

By Jeff Goin

Jeff Goin

Jeff Goin, president of the U.S. Powered Paraglider Association (USPPA), filed this response in reaction to the announcement in our October 2010 issue of a training exemption for two-place wheeled powered paragliders. Read the original story here.

Last month, EAA Light Plane World published a news story where the CEO of Aerosports Connection (ASC) suggested that dual training in wheeled powered paragliders (PPGs) was now legal. While we would all love for that to be the case, in our opinion it is not supported by the facts.

Enactment of the Sport Pilot rule ended all previous ultralight training exemptions including those for foot-launched PPG. So the United States Powered Paragliding Association (USPPA) worked hard with the FAA to get a new exemption, including for wheeled PPGs. But the FAA would not allow wheels and made that very clear—we earned our exemption only after removing all references to wheels. A couple months later, the ASC got theirs with identical applicability wording and, not surprisingly, with no mention of wheels. Then this year, USPPA and ASC got their exemptions extended, again with identical wording, but, for some reason, ASC chose to broaden its interpretation. Let’s look at the exemptions’ wording (emphasis added).

USPPA #9751A: “This exemption applies only to flights for the purpose of giving instruction in foot-launched, two-place powered paragliders.”

ASC #9785A: “This exemption applies only to flights for the purpose of giving
instruction in foot-launched, two-place powered and unpowered paragliders.”

Sound similar? Some observations: 1) this is no different than what the USPPA has had since 2008, 2) we see no basis for redefining “foot-launched” as “foot launchable” and 3) think it’s reckless, at best, to unilaterally redefine a prime aspect of our exemptions in an apparent effort to broaden their appeal.
Also, USPPA got wording in its grant of exemption that allows the motor to support its own weight, reasonably inferring that it could have wheels as long as the pilot and student were supporting their weight during launch and landing. We sure hope that our collective behavior doesn’t put that allowance at risk, but I fear it might.

We readily acknowledge that foot launching is hard, and that doing this on wheels is safer, but being flippant with the authority we’ve been granted puts that authority at risk, so USPPA has asked the FAA for clarification. Responsible behavior is waiting to get an official clarification before accepting such a broad definition.

Note that the USPPA does not charge instructors for access to its exemption and, in fact, pays pilots a small training reimbursement for achieving ratings. ASC charges $100 per year for using the exemption in addition to the membership amount. USPPA is sincerely trying to encourage more pilots to graduate to instructor level to help others get started in the sport. Visit www.USPPA.org/Training for more information on our tandem program.

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