Powered Parachute Buyers Guide

Powered Parachutes have gained in popularity because of their entry cost and the ease of flying.  Over the years many have been sold which is making more used aircraft available for sale.

A powered parachute is a personal aircraft with a propeller driven cart suspended from a parachute, which acts as the wing. The carts typically are either three-wheeled or four-wheeled.  The engines range from roughly 40 hp up to as much 190 hp.

Powered parachutes usually cruise at about 20–40 miles per hour and their slow speeds make them ideal for flying close to the ground.  In the US, they may be flown as either ultralights or as certificated aircraft. Ultralight versions are lighter, carry a maximum of five gallons of fuel, may only be flown during daylight hours, and are single-seat only. The benefit to the ultralight version is that there is no licensing involved.

Certified powered parachutes aren’t limited by the ultralight rules, but pilots need proper training and certification.

The FAA offers two levels of certification for powered parachutes, Sport Pilot and Private Pilot. Both ratings allow a pilot to take a passenger along for the flight. However private pilots are also able to fly powered parachutes at night. Easy Flight is one of the only schools in the United States that can train and certify students for both Sport Pilot and Private Pilot Powered Parachute ratings.

Buying Considerations

  1. Is it legal to fly? If the powered parachute is an ultralight, you are fine. However, if the powered parachute has two seats, has an empty weight of more than 254lbs, or can carry more than 5 gallons of fuel, then the aircraft needs to be N-numbered and have a valid FAA Airworthiness Certificate. If it doesn't have those two things, the powered parachute may be more trouble than it is worth.
  2. Can you legally fly it? If the aircraft isn't an ultralight, then you will need to receive the proper training and pilot rating in order to fly it.  While this doesn’t mean it isn’t a good machine to buy, you just need to consider the costs and time to become a legal pilot for the aircraft.
  3. Is the aircraft even servicable? The best test for that is to have the seller demonstrate it for you. If that isn’t possible, careful inspection by someone trained is a good idea and may save you a lot of grief.

How Are Powered Parachutes Different From Paragliders?

Powered parachutes have landing gear and powered paragliders are primarily foot-launched. However, some wheeled parawing aircraft are marketed as ‘powered paraglider trikes or quads’.  There are many things to consider when buying a used PPC (Powered Parachute).  This video outlines some of the considerations.